I suck at housecleaning. Mostly because I hate it. It’s never finished and it is completely unappreciated. Well, not really unappreciated. It’s just that you don’t get applause when you wash a floor, like you do when you serve a great dinner. (Yes, I have gotten applause. After I ordered my family to do it.)
I remember with great clarity the moment I realized as a new adult that life was not all Do Whatever You Want Because Nobody Will Nag You: it came just five days after I’d meticulously vacuumed, dusted, and scrubbed my eensy first apartment. As I settled down in my favorite TV-watching chair with a big bowl of popcorn, I noticed dust on the coffee table. But…but…but…didn’t I just DO that?! Alarmed, I looked at the kitchen floor. Oh no – small splots of yesterday’s dinner preparation by the kitchen sink! DUST BUNNIES EVERYWHERE!! With the frantic violin screeches from Psycho playing in my head, I realized the First Universal Truth of Adulthood: housework does not stay done. Since that moment, I have spent lots of time and money trying to create a wormhole of Easy through the universe of Hard Work. (No doubt the time would have been better spent actually cleaning the house.)
At first, I tried just not doing it. Just try to picture what my apartment looked like after a month or so of that approach. It was revolting, even to me. So it appeared I had no choice: clean the house, or die from dust bunny asphyxiation, which would happen because I stuck to the floor that I fell on when I tripped over something that I left where it dropped.
Then I became obsessed by cleaning gadgets. You know, the things that are supposed to make cleaning A BREEZE! First came the mop that I could wring without getting my hands wet. Awesome! But I still had to mop the floor – twice, actually, to dry up the pools that the Wonder Mop left. Then came the Swiffer Wet Jet™. Awesome! Except that I still had to use it. And mop afterward with the aforementioned Wonder Mop, as the Swiffer Wet Jet™ left a sticky film behind. Then dry up the pools left by the Wonder Mop. This morning, as I steam-cleaned my kitchen floor, I found myself resolving to hit the web when I was finished, in search of a better, more efficient floor steamer. See, the one I have leaves enough wetness behind that I have to follow with a dry cloth (I can’t lie. It’s a ShamWow.) to keep the floor from looking streaked and awful when it’s finished. Certainly a floor cleaner with more steam vents and a thicker cleaning pad would change my life forever! Yes! That’s the answer! And wouldn’t you know, that is exactly what I did. I had one all picked out and in the QVC shopping cart before it dawned on me: no matter what great gadget I bought to clean my house with, I WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE TO USE IT.
When I was a kid, I heard my mom talking about a friend who had a central vacuum installed in her house. I remember feeling giddy at the concept: a self-cleaning house! I envisioned a house in which you just flipped a central switch and all the crumbs & pet hair were magically sucked away. (I also wondered how this happened without sucking the actual pet away. I never solved that puzzle.) When we built our house, I had a central vac installed. Guess what? I ACTUALLY HAVE TO USE IT.
So the battle continues. Until someone invents a self-cleaning house, I will continue to search for ways to avoid cleaning. Short of just not doing it, that is. I don’t want my obituary to read “Beloved high school teacher dies from sticking to floor.”