This time of year I have to be very careful with whom I strike up a conversation. Many of my friends and acquaintances tend to have these long and detailed conversations about a topic that, quite honestly strikes fear into my heart. You know what I’m talking about: Spring Cleaning. Don’t get me wrong, I am generally in favor of cleaning; it’s just that I don’t want to do it.
And it’s not even that I don’t want to do it. I just can’t. I don’t have the coordination, patience or attention span to plan to clean.
I think it would be pertinent and ironic to mention at this point that one summer I supported my family in part by cleaning other people’s homes. These poor people didn’t know about my deficiencies nor was there any reason to tell them. Fortunately for them, I was merely bucket holder and mop toter to a frighteningly obsessed woman who knew how to sweep through a home and leave it literally tingling with cleanliness. I simply followed her lead.
These conversations that I refer to reveal people who take a, well– perverse, thrill in chasing dustbunnies down to their demise. I was having coffee with my friend and writer’s group Trudy one day and she mentioned that she needed to get home and wash her kitchen floor. I was floored. You do that? Like, get a buckets and sponges and some kind of cleaning fluid and plan to wash the floor. Like all at once? Not with a paper towel when you spill some spaghetti sauce? I was both impressed and baffled. I believe I had the same confused look on my face as I did when my friend Sue once said to me, “Sorry I was late, I had to iron my blouse,” and I had to ask, “What’s an iron?”
But back to this cleaning thing. Spring cleaning is an age-old tradition – I’m told – which is the practice of thoroughly cleaning a house in the springtime. The practice of spring cleaning is especially prevalent in climates with a cold winter. This is true…I looked it up on Wikipedia. In another ironic turn, I found that this activity apparently finds its roots in the Persian New Year celebration of Norooz. Now, I was at a Norooz celebration this year as a matter of fact. We did not clean. We ate and drank. It was fun. Not like cleaning at all.
Now before you all shrink back in horror and make a mental note to never, ever come visit me – my house is not about to be condemned by the Health Department. I’m not a reality show. The problem is that I’ve tried to clean. I just can’t do it. Here’s an example: Recently I realized that my husband had not replaced the mini-blinds in my bedroom with darker ones; the beige ones we put up when we moved in were still hanging in place. The new color wasn’t a new color at all…it was dust. And, embarrassingly, it was about several years worth of dust. I thought that raising them up and down shook the dust off, in a sort of self cleaning function. In addition, I have had several cleaning ladies on various occasions who apparently still don’t do windows. I’m not going to talk about the cleaning ladies…they were my husband’s idea, I didn’t want them in my house and it was painful and horrifying for me personally. I had to attempt in my challenged way to get the house in order and then flee to another state while they were in my home. And they didn’t clean the mini blinds.
So it was up to me.
The first task was getting them down from the windows. There were three different kinds of hardware holding them in place so it was difficult three different times. I prepared my cleaning supplies…a full bottle of cleanser, a brush, a sponge and took them outside to the front yard to the hose. I will spare you the ugly details but suffice it to say that an activity that would have taken most people about 20 minutes took me over an hour. I couldn’t decide whether or not to clean them fully extended or fully collapsed and it turned out neither was very manageable. I hung the once beige mini blinds over the side of my porch to dry and they looked worse than when I took them down. Seriously. They looked like I took them outside and threw dirt on them.
So, I’m done with Spring Cleaning. I’m not talking about it, I’m not worrying about it, I’m not doing it. It’s a nice concept for those among us who have some coordination and endurance, but for those among us who don’t – and I’m just talking about me here – I will simply pull the shades when the morning sun streams in and highlights the dust on my bookshelves. Besides, I’ve found that there is a plastic container that dispenses handy moist wipes for cleaning almost anything: wood, bathrooms, windows, babies. They’re better than ketchup in a squeeze bottle and they keep the Health Department at bay.
Who wants to talk about cleaning anyway?