Mar. 23, 2017

House Keeping

When my husband and I first started living together I put forth a lot of effort in being a good wife. Since I was a young seventeen and he twenty-seven, already established in life, and had even been divorced already, I was afraid I would not measure up.

I thought for sure the first time I used his electric razor on my legs he was going to call it quits. I was trying to do a rush job at shaving when all of a sudden, it started smoking. I panicked. I didn’t know what to do or how to tell him I broke his razor on my legs. I calmed myself down, put the razor away and decided I’d cross that bridge when I came to it; especially since he never used the razor in the first place.

Two months later he’s talking to a friend of his and the subject of electric razors came up. My husband, Reese, says “I have one, but I don’t ever use it because it starts smoking like it’s going to catch on fire.”

“Oh thank, God!” I exclaimed with relief. “I was using it one day on my legs and it did that! I didn’t know how to tell you though.”

Why not just say it?” He asked smirking a little.

“Because I was afraid you’d leave me.”

That’s a true story. For the first several months of our “togetherness” I lived in fear that anything I did wrong would be the break-up that tore us apart. After all, I had no housekeeping or cooking skills to back me up. I was truly winging it. I quit suffering that delusion after the first several months. 

He came home from work to find the vacuum cleaner in the yard. “What’s it’s doing out there?” He inquired as he drug it back inside.

“It’s broken! Every time I get it to pick something up it spits it back out.”

“Did you check the bag?”

I know a confused look fell over my face as I asked, “What bag?” He opened the vacuum cleaner and showed me the bag which was packed full of dirt and debris. “We never used bags at home,” I said in my defense.

“Then how did you clean the vacuum cleaner out?”

I explained to him how my step-mother would sit on the floor with the Hoover and cram her hand up inside and pull this stuff out. We didn’t have money for vacuum cleaner bags. “I tried to do that with this one but there was no opening for me to put my hand inside (the bag was in the way),” I continued explaining.

I finally came to the conclusion I would never be a good housekeeper. I made my declaration to my husband that I would go to work and pay someone to clean my house. I would freely tell people, “It’s not for me.”

All of our family and friends knew it and even laughed about it. It was kind of the running joke in our house. When my husband was in the hospital for a week, some friends came and stayed at the house for us to be with the children. Mary called to check on his status and to inform me, she’d just dusted my big 4-postered princess bed for me.

“You did what?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, I found some Pledge and a cloth and dusted it for you.” She was thrilled to death with herself.

“Is the bed still standing?”

“Yes, it’s still there,” she said laughing into the phone.

“Gosh, I was afraid to dust it because I thought the dirt was holding it all together.”

I’ve gotten a few tips over time on how to clean things: Like putting a cloth over the end of a broomstick and dusting cobwebs and strands of dust bunnies off the walls and corners of the room.

Of all the rooms in my house, I keep the kitchen the best. I love to cook so it is always the cleanest. I can handle surface cleaning but the odd and end things like scrubbing the floor or steam cleaning the carpet just threw me off. Even something simple like cleaning the ceiling fans was a bit over the top for me. We did the little things to keep tidy but that’s where “paying a housekeeper” came into play.

I remember having dinner with some friends one night and Sam says to me, jokingly of course, as I do not deep clean stuff, “You know, it’s real easy to clean the dust off the ceiling around those fans?”

“Really? They can be cleaned?” I looked up at the ceiling and there was a dark circle of dust around the blades. “How do you do it?”

“Get a cloth and put it over a broom; just like you do when you dust the walls.”

“That doesn’t work. That’s permanent, it’s not going away,” I declared defiantly.

“No, it’s just dust. You ought to try it.”

I spent the next three days staring at the circle of dust around the ceiling fan. Finally, deciding to prove Sam wrong, I did just as he instructed. Imagine my surprise when the dust came off in just one swoop. But now, I was left with a problem; I had to finish the job.

I called Sam and left a message on his answering machine that went something like this: “I did as you said and you were right, it came off. But now, I have to finish what I started. You’re an asshole for telling me this because you knew I was going to get curious and try it out!”

As I said, I’ve learned a good bit about keeping house with over 30 years of marriage. My husband doesn’t complain though that I’m not Martha Stewart. He accepts that I’m dysfunctional - I am housekeeping challenged.