Every two weeks we have a household ritual known as Cleaning Up For the Cleaning Lady. If you’ve been visiting here for a while, you already know about my complete lack of skills when it comes to keeping house. But after many months of doing without, we have a new cleaning lady and our ritual is back in place. It involves clearing tables and counters, rounding up shoes and sorting through mail. The kinds of things most of you probably do on a daily basis. But at our house, not so much.
Once upon a time, cleaning ladies were like Hazel or Alice on the Brady Bunch. They were members of the family. They knew the inside of your underwear drawer as well as you did. They cleaned and cooked and gave out advice with packed lunches. Today it’s different. Today someone comes in while you’re away. They dust and mop and clean grout and wipe off mini-blinds.
I’ve daydreamed about being one of those people who is just naturally neat and organized. The kind of person who’s counters are never cluttered. With closets organized according to color, cloth and cut. I used to work with a person like that. This is an actual conversation we had one day when I was a few minutes late for work.
Me: Sorry I’m late. I couldn’t find my shoe.
Her: What do you mean?
Me: I couldn’t find my shoe.
Her: I don’t understand.
Me: (resisting the urge to speak louder) I. couldn’t. find. my. shoe. (I mean really–how hard is that to understand.)
Her: Your shoes are in the closet.
Me: No…your shoes are in the closet. My shoes are under the bed, outside on the deck, in the car…and there’s no guarantee that the two of them are together, either. So this morning I was late because I couldn’t find my shoe. Until I looked behind the couch and there it was.
She literally could not fathom a world in which shoes were not in their proper place. Unfortunately, she found herself in an office with two left-handed bleached blondes where spontaneity and chaos were the rule, not the exception.
I understand the concept that shoes belong in the closet. Honestly I do.
But truly, the only person cleaning up at my house is the cleaning lady. And I don’t just mean the housework.