Monday, January 17, 2011

The Big Clean

I love Ian, I love him dearly.  I love him so much that I feel guilty about the cleaning frenzy I indulged in after he went back to school.  He had appropriated a corner of the dining room table, where he set up his lap top and books, his cigarettes, his phone, his bowls of popcorn and his empty mugs and glasses.  That is where he sat when he was at home, except when he was spilling bacon fat in the oven or sleeping, or taking long showers, or spreading all seven disks of The Mighty Boosh out on the coffee table.  One day I tried to tidy the dining room.  Ian said angrily, "Stop it! This is an active coffee drinking and cigarette rolling station!"

As soon as I got back from dropping Ian at the airport, I decided to do a major kitchen clean.  I felt that I couldn't tackle the now-dormant coffee drinking and cigarette rolling station in the dining room until I had gotten a grip on the kitchen.  It isn't Ian's fault that my kitchen is filthy.  It's the fault of my sluttish housekeeping.  The sort of cleaning tasks that most women do monthly or weekly, I do yearly, or even once in a decade.  My favorite cleaning product is a can of white latex semi-gloss.

I decided that the best approach would be to take absolutely everything out of the kitchen and thus have flat open spaces for easy wiping.  It would be "easier."  And it was easier.  Easier than diving to the bottom of the Atlantic and removing every item from the Titanic one by one with my teeth.

The problem with this all-or-nothing approach to cleaning is that if you don't start until 11:00am and then at 12:30 you take a tea break and fall asleep on your bed and then waste a lot of time ineffectually trying to wipe the grease from your kitchen ceiling--which you could have done without moving a single teaspoon out of the way-- it will suddenly be close to dinner time and you will not be prepared to cook anything.  And you can't order pizza because you ordered pizza last night because it was Ian's last dinner and that's what he wanted, but you had planned to make meatloaf, so there is a great hunk of ground beef in your fridge, already defrosted and you have to cook it tonight or it will go bad.  You are, to put it crudely, fucked.

The meatloaf was served at 8:00pm, in a kitchen that was still missing most of its implements.  It's pretty disheartening to have half-cleaned your kitchen and then mess it up with the preparations for a meal.  I gave up and went to bed without even washing the dishes.

Today I moved the stove and cleaned under it--something I do more often than most people despite my general laziness where cleaning is concerned.  I can't stand the idea of dirt collecting in areas where I can't see it.  I am unconcerned about the inch-thick dust on the desk in my front hall, but I obsess about the dirt underneath the stove and the refrigerator.  So the space under the stove wasn't as dirty as you might expect, and there were no mouse droppings.  The space under the stove used to be a prime spot for mouse droppings.  I don't know if I should be happy about that or not.  I don't like mice--nasty shit-spewing creatures--and for years we were sorely troubled by them.  Then suddenly they disapeared.  I worry that the lack of mice is a sign of a deeper problem--a snake or a lethal disease or some sort of subterranean flooding but there is no way I am braving the crawl space to investigate.  If someone held a scary basement competition, mine would definitely win.

Now it is Monday afternoon and the kitchen is still pulled to pieces.  I have to work tonight and Tuesday night, which means I will be absolutely useless until late Wednesday afternoon, by which time the kitchen will be as dirty as if I had never attempted to clean it in the first place.  Such is the life of the servantless American housewife.


  1. #1 - I love that you said "sluttish housekeeping."

    #2 - I admire you for cleaning under your stove, even if you never clean anywhere else. I have NEVER cleaned under my stove. Or refrigerator. Or washing machine. Ever.

  2. I'm with madhousewife, I love that you used the phrase "sluttish housekeeping."

    I don't ever clean behind my stove.

  3. I remember the post you first mentioned "sluttish" in, and it is still an enjoyable adjective to pair with the housekeeping.

    I have cleaned under my stove and fridge (we used to get ants in the kitchen annually), but I have never cleaned under my washing machine. Good lord of the dance, what could be under there?? I shudder to think.

  4. You may not clean much, but don't you paint your house every year? Now that is dedication! My status as a housekeeping slattern involves only dusting on sunny days and never moving appliances to dust under or behind. My kids are a tag-team of destruction and sloth, thereby encouraging my inclination to procrastinate.

  5. Recently I considered pulling out my stove, too. If I found mouse droppings behind it, I'd faint.