Things I’m Not Good At

Venus and the Dog Bones

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Here’s how I clean my house.

I have miles of new laminate floors. They are like a sea of fiendish polished wood, rolling with wads of and long fat wisps of gray cat hair, dried weed stems and yellow stickers, grit and dirt. Blotches and blobs of dried spills are dotted everywhere.
I am overwhelmed by my floors.

Here’s my method.
Dust everything high up. Think about cleaning all the imposing dark granite counter tops in the kitchen but that can wait. Maybe for a month.

Get out the broom and sweep all the base boards and the sides of all the rooms and into the corners.
Step barefooted onto a sharp dog bone. Scream.

Go and lie down.

Sweep all the floors.

Check my email.

Wide sweep all the floors with a big commercial duster.
Moan long and loudly.

Bill opens the door from his adjoining studio and says, “OK that’s enough cleaning. I hate to see you suffer like this. I told you this last week.”

Ignore him.

Wander outside to the patio and lie exhausted in the ratty chaise lounge and get some sun.

Vac the floors.
Get myself wound up in the vacuum cleaner cord, step on another pointed dog bone, scream and fall to the floor.
Look around and say, “I just can’t do this. This is too much for me.”

Vacuum some more. Vacuum up the white tassels on a small oriental rug. The vacuum cleaner coughs and quits.
Moan and cry some more.

Bill opens the door from his studio and comes into my great room.

“Why don’t you hire some help?” he says. “You look terrible. You can do lots of things very well but you’re not good at this. I mean it, give it up. You’ve been moaning for hours. You’re losing the whole day.”

I tell him to leave me alone.

Get down on my hands and knees with a small, wet yellow sponge and clean the base boards by hand.

Sign heavily and sit against the wall for awhile.

Wet the sponge again and wipe and clean all around the outside of the rooms and into all the cracks and corners. Forget to keep a bucket of water at hand so make many trips to the sink to pull all the hair and grit and dirt off the sponge and re-wet it.

Lean my forehead on the kitchen counter.

Look around at all the stains on the floors. Think about getting out a mop. But first, get down on my knees and scrape off all the unidentified stuff that is three-D.

Get out the wet mop.
It’s new and I can’t get the handle to expand or the sponge to release. I can’t even get all the cellophane off the sponge!
Throw the mop against the dining-room table.

Go into my bedroom and rip the sheets and pillow cases off the bed and the pillows. Carry the pillows outside and put them in the sun.
Sling the brown feather blanket over the pool fence. Sling it too far and part of it drops into the pool water.
I say a bad word.

Go inside and lie down on the bed.

Get up reluctantly and take the dirty sheets and pillow cases and put them in the washer.

Check my email.

Wander outside.

Come inside.
Try and turn the mattress on the bed. Can’t do it. It’s too heavy for me.

Look through some of the tall, crooked piles of books that I have stacked by my bed.

Tip the small bedside table over to see if it still has black widows on the underside.
There is a tremendous racket as all the vitamin bottles and books and pens and nail clippers and all the stuff of life that is stored inside, rockets to the back of the table.
The bedside table is too heavy for me to hold at tilt position and it falls hard on it’s back. I go with it.

Bill appears in the doorway.

He has his cell phone camera. He’s very amused as he takes my picture.

I decide Bill is right. I can do many things well but there are a few things that I do abnormally badly. Housekeeping is one of them.
And then there is my cooking.

When I was in college, I had my two younger brothers visit me at my apartment. I made them dinner.

Years later we are talking about that evening when my brothers say, ‘You made the best pizza we ever ate!”
I’m puzzled. “I never made you pizza.”

“Oh, yes you did,” my brother Jim says, “Art and I agreed it was the best pizza we’d ever had.”

Suddenly, I remember.
“That wasn’t pizza!” I yell. “That was meat-loaf!”

Sometimes you just gotta’ say ‘Uncle’ about some things in life and concentrate on where you shine.

Tomorrow, I’m seriously looking for someone who shines at cleaning houses. And, when I find her, I will pay her well, and fill her arms with lilies and compliment her lavishly, but I will not make her meat-loaf or even attempt to make her lunch. I won’t want to lose her.


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