(This is my attempt at heart-shaped red Snickerdoodles for a kids’ neighborhood party: not so lovely. But excellent baked goods would be wasted on a crowd who thinks Blues Clues is high art, so I worry not)
Groom and I are gifted. We really are. He can run long distances, like 30 miles, and feel better at the end than at the start. I can fold laundry at 1 a.m. He can plan a weekly menu of meals so good that I proclaim each one fine enough to be “company food.” I can cut a wriggling preschooler’s fingernails without drawing blood. Together, we can just about finish a Sunday New York Times’ crossword puzzle.
Obviously, we have our merits, and you’d be smart to want us as members of your tribe on Survivor.
However, when it comes to household precision and general domesticity, we are underwhelming. Sure, we fight the daily battle: heaving dirty clothes toward the basket in the corner, washing up the bowl that contained pesto noodles, rinsing the spit toothpaste down the drain. We do what’s necessary to make sure Child Welfare Services doesn’t have an excuse to confiscate the children.
But, while the place looks all right on the surface, and we can occasionally pass for “neat,” we can rarely pass for “clean.” No white glove should ever come knocking, lest it flee our house, dingy gray, choking back sobs and dusty coughs, mere moments later. For example, within an hour of one of us sweeping the kitchen floor, it will, predictably, look like this:
Indeed, I often am forced to admit, “We can be a lot of fun at a potluck, but otherwise, we’re pigs.”
Despite this reality, we do have one consistenly clean patch of floor, one upon which I would serve even Domestic Ballbuster Martha Stewart a heap of Baked Gemelli with Spinach, Ricotta, and Prosciutto; it is the two-foot patch of hardwood floor just in front of this glass of water:
You can see where this is going. Contrary to what psychologists might predict, I don’t learn from my mistakes. Every night, I put my water glass just under the edge of the futon, where I can reach down at my convenience and have a sip while watching Weeds and commenting, “Gawd, if only we sold marijuana out of our house. Then we could afford a housekeeper.”
And nearly every night, I invariably whack said water glass with my foot after getting up to retrieve yet another fleece blanket to warm me up in our frigid house (tv room thermostat reads 58 degrees). Natch, the water spreads immediately, sopping my wool socks, running into the cracks between the floorboards, causing me to scramble for a dishtowel–dirty, of course–to mop things up.
Even more invariably, I have to take a quiet moment after the mop up to gasp and admire: “My, my, doesn’t this floor look spiffy after the application of water and scrubbing? Someone should market that idea. It could catch on.”
In our household tiara adorned with old tires and crunched-up Bugles, we have this one shining jewel of floor space. It sparkles. It glows. It hums with cleanliness.
The rest of the place? The Clampett shack before striking black gold, Texas tea.
Thus, you can imagine the sheer pleasure with which I greeted our cheap toilet’s overflow the other evening. I watched the water level rising and rising. Then it started to seep over the top edge. Marvelling, I stood rapt, torn between a desire to run for a plunger and a sense of possiblity.
The longer I let it overflow, the larger the patch of bathroom floor that would ultimately get cleaned.
I sat down and filed my nails.
Then I ran for the plunger and a stack of towels.
“Dear Martha Stewart:
I request the pleasure of your company for an intimate picnique underneath my toilet paper dispenser. Wear your best chinos, as you will be eating the Cucumber and Smoked Salmon Sandwiches, sided by Asparagus Panzanella, directly off the tile. ”