Saturday, September 15, 2007

Weekend Chores

I subscribe to the public health model of housecleaning: prevention of illness, disease and injury. This allows sufficiently wide berth for clutter, dust, dirty laundry, and funky leftovers. Because I have allergies, my threshhold for squalor has dropped a bit in the past year but generally speaking, I spend as little time cleaning as possible.

I grew up in a very tidy and clean house. There was a strict schedule of weekly chores that included dusting, vacuuming, laundering sheets and towels, and thorough bathroom and kitchen scrubbing. Except for getting to spray heart-shaped blobs of Pledge on the coffee table and making satisfying patterns in the carpet while vacuuming, it was torture. It felt rigid. The house didn't even seem dusty. The sheets often still smelled of laundry detergent, which in my book, meant they were still clean.

Fast forward to college, when I cleaned the house of a professional couple, no children. Their house was very beautiful and they appeared to spend no time in it. As a result, it was like a museum: still, untouched, and spotless. I had no idea why they hired me, but every week I dutifully wiped clean counters and scrubbed gleaming toilets. The only part of the job that I liked was cleaning the copper bathroom fixtures with Brasso. Talk about gratifying, wow. Also, they were from Europe and had a lot of interesting food in their pantry. Back in the early 90s in the midwest, pesto in a tube was provocative stuff.

Broadening of culinary horizons aside, these weekly visits seemed pointless, almost depressing. Not unlike how it felt to be forced to vacuum imaginary dirt when I would rather be reading, climbing a tree or simply staring off into space, doing absolutely nothing.

In past jobs, I have had the opportunity to be around dying people. I heard many regrets and wishes for what could have been, but none of them involved keeping a tidier house or finally cleaning under the refrigerator. I know that Martha Stewart has attempted to elevate domestic duties to an art form, but I can't imagine even her deathbed regret will have anything to do with the cleaning she never got around to.

Today, however, while I was opening a cupboard to put the sugar away, a giant roach fell out, bounced off my face, landed on the floor and scurried away. I have lived in roach infested places--the kind where flipping a light on in the bathroom launches a swarm across the toilet seat--so my tolerance is pretty high. But being facially assaulted by a creature generally considered to be the epitome of filth and disease? I had a disturbed moment.

Yet when I thought about actually taking everything out of the cupboard to find and remove whatever that roach was grooving on, I thought, no fucking way. Maybe there is a pile of spilled something somewhere in the depths of my canned food, but maybe it's the neighbors roach just popping over for a visit. I'm already doing laundry and just scrubbed the toilet and that is more than enough housecleaning for one day.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

i found worms on my ceiling, like 10 of them, a couple of weeks ago. My house is infested with "pantry moths". it's disgusting. i swear i have killed about 400 of them, just swatting at them. and they leave a mess of guts on the walls so i have moth guts everywhere too. and my inlaws are here.
lynchb

Kellan Rhodes said...

I have OCD (so my family and friends say) so ... I am a cleaning freak (everything has a place and there is a place for everything). But, I have had roaches and pantry moths (those are not fun) and ants. No matter what you do ... if they want to get in - they're gonna' get in. I like the view that they are just visiting from next door, though. I'm gonna start using that one. If it makes you feel any better, I cleaned toilets today and also did laundry and thats all I'm doin'!

Professional Critic said...

Kellan, do you have ideas to help lynchb rid herself of vile pantry moths? At least roaches have the good sense to run and hide in the presence of people.