A HOUSEKEEPING PRIMER
This is a house. People live in our house. Most of them are human. Humans thrive in a clean, orderly environment. Let's learn about our house.
This is the bathroom. Look! Oh, look! There is pee on the toilet seat. There is toothpaste in the sink. There is spittle on the mirror. There are wet towels on the floor. There are underpants under the bathtub. This is why Mother starts shouting when she gets ready for bed.
Here is the washing machine. Guess what! The washing machine can not wash fifteen towels and six sets of bed sheets in one load. Do not try, it will not work. Look at the soap. The ratio of scoops of laundry soap to loads of laundry is 1:1. Oh, oh, oh! "Ratio" is a big word. Say "ratio." Say, "Tide is expensive."
Say, "I must not touch the washing machine."
The kitchen is a happy place. It is fun to eat. Let's wash the dishes! Find the dishwasher. Try. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. We load dishes in a special way. We load them so that they can actually come into contact with soap and water.
The refrigerator is your friend. It is cold. Many foods like to be cold. See the meat? See the milk? They are happy when they are cold. We can not eat green meat. We can not drink lumpy milk.
Look at the shoes! Count the shoes! One, two, three, four..twenty-seven, eighty-six, three hundred and twelve. Shoes do not look nice. Put shoes away. Where is "away?" Mother will give you a hint. "Away" is not the middle of the hall or under the coffee table or in front of the toilet. "Away" means mother can not see them.
Let's play a game! It is a fun game! It is called "get the mail." Find the mailbox. Take the mail out of the mailbox. Put ALL the mail in the EXACT SAME PLACE every day. "Mother, Mother! Why is it so dark?" I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with the electric bill that got stuffed behind the couch cushion.
Jon, come quick! Mother has a pop quiz! A pop quiz for you! Is it ever acceptable to use the stove burners to light your cigarettes?
We are modern and enlightened. What does that mean? It means that we recycle. See the paper? See the cardboard? See the bottles, the cans, the #1 and #2 plastics? They are not trash. We put them in a special place. It is marked "RECYCLING." It is fun to recycle!
We have two dogs. How can you tell they are dogs? They have four legs. One, two, three, four.
See the funny puppy? Oh, oh, oh! The puppy is funny! See the puppy jump and play! A puppy is a special kind of dog. A puppy needs constant supervision. Puppies like to eat. Puppies should eat food. Examples of things that are food: ham sandwiches, scrambled eggs, dog food. Examples of things that are not food: library books, Mother's new suede kitten-heel mules.
Luna is not a puppy. Luna is old. How can you tell that she is old? She does not jump. She does not play. Old dogs have special problems. Say, "Incontinence." Say, "Last one out of the house in the morning is responsible for letting Luna out for one more pee."
Oh look! Look at the car! Look at the gas gauge! The car needs gas. If it has no gas, it will be sad. It will not go. It is fun to drive. It is not fun to run out of gas.
Mother! Oh Mother! What is mother doing? She is eating a half gallon of ice cream straight out of the carton. She is watching the gay fight scene from Bridget Jones' Diary over and over and over. She does not want to pick up shoes. She does not want to rescue the laundry. She does not want to reload the dishwasher. She does not want to fish recycling out of the trash. What else does mother have? Can you say DIAZEPAM? Can you say VODKA? Do you want Mother to be taken away in a strait jacket? Then shape up, up, up.
****This is an old, old entry that I've reworked, because sometimes things need to be reiterated. Just last night I again found the washing machine crammed with disparate clothing that shouldn't be washed together. What is it with men and laundry? I am reminded of my uncle, who, after more than thirty years of marriage was faced with the task of doing the laundry because my aunt was going out of town. He said to her, earnestly and totally without irony, "But how does the water get into the machine?" My uncle was, I should mention, a college graduate and business owner, a wonderful, generous, funny, intelligent, loving man, but so unmindful of the running of his household that he seriously believed that for thirty years, my aunt had been filling buckets at the sink and pouring them into the washer. What boggles the mind is that a man who had witnessed the space age thought a woman would put up with this antiquated method of washing clothes and not complain about it.
My apolgies to Erma Bombeck, whose "Primer for Imaginative Children" was my inspiration for this piece.