Saturday, November 20, 2010

Done Any House Cleaning Lately?

Quick! What's the first feeling you get when someone mentions "cleaning", as in "we're cleaning this weekend" or "we can't put off the cleaning any longer"? Let's face it. It's a combination of dread, resignation and resistance. I like to call it "dre-sig-nis-tance".

When a wave of dresignistance comes on, suddenly climbing Mount Everest and cliff diving in Acapulco seem like things you ought to be doing instead. Now, if you could only find those travel brochures you picked up last year---as if you thought you'd ever actually do those things in the first place.

I'm not sure what makes cleaning such a chore. Maybe it's because it's almost the worst kind of chore. First of all, depending on how brutal you decide to be, you have to retouch everything at least for the second time---if not third, fourth or fifth---even the stuff you should never have touched to begin with.

Then there's the dust, most of it laying there waiting to explode with the slightest breath, like one of those dandelion seed tufts. How do those little dust bunnies form, anyway? There they are, just lurking in corners and under furniture, waiting to pounce---or escape ahead of your approaching rag or mop.

The worst part may be the mental battle between the left and right sides of the brain, first trying to remember what made some particular thing so darned interesting at the time, then reevaluating whether to delay its immediate demise---a-g-a-i-n.

Cleaning has no gender boundaries either---there's no preponderant male/female claims to chronic collector status. Doesn't everyone have stacks of cherished magazines and catalogs, from Playboy to Pottery Barn, from "O" to "Q", from Real Simple to REI? All of them are so hope-filled and glossy.

Sure, we'll get back to that compelling relationship article eventually or try that recipe for goat cheese-vegetarian lasagna with avocado and a hint of mint. Toss them out? How could we? To paraphrase the classic from Seals and Croft, "these may never come this way again." Hope springs eternal....

But wait. Maybe the act of the cleansing purge (we're talking housework here) has gotten a bad rap all these years. When you get right down to it, cleaning is really just a mini-archeological excavation, with surprises under every layer.

Now I know why retail stores rotate their product lines so often. It's really just a business exercise in cleaning. Much as a fresh, clean store draws the eye and corrals customers, so too will your home, divested of its dust and clutter, be inviting to all those visitors you've been meaning to have over---you know, someone besides your best friend who loves you even with all your warts.

Just think of the fun in the discovery, nay even the reward, that awaits you. Have you browsed through the rows of packages and cans in your pantry which are months or even years beyond their "best if used by" date. What about the caches of expired coupons in that little basket by the phone; the knic-knacs and chotchkys---priceless dust catchers lined up in formation on shelves and hutchtops; and the pages of three-hole punched portfolio reports added monthly and quarterly to the "file later" pile?

Ah, but the true irony lies in the well-intentioned buckets and bags of partially and never used cleaning supplies shoved into the dark recesses of "the under-sink"?

So, what's to be done with the dust and clutter of times past. Can we ever part with our accumulated stash of good stuff which seems to have taken up permanent residence? Isn't it time to toss off the tantalizing tyrany of "too much"? To soundly trounce the trash evolved from treasure? To finally unburden the body and soul?

Come on. You can do it. Compulsion is under rated. Just think of it as turning your cleaning quirks into fashion statements. That damp rag tucked under a rubber band at your wrist will eradicate errant smudges in a flash. White gloves with a spritz of dust spray? Perfect for swiping away new traces of pre-dust on the bannister? And what could be bolder than strapping on a tool belt filled with cleaning supplies?

But the ultimate? A stylish row of easy-reach hooks by the front door is ideal for hanging dustmops, brooms and the afore-mentioned tool belt---all at the ready so you can start cleaning as soon as you walk in the door and keep at it until you leave. Throw caution to the wind. No mercy! This is war! Be the first cleaning fashionista on your block. Are you with me?

Wait. Where's the TV remote? Isn't there a game on now? Dirty Jobs? Animal Planet? Jeopardy? Anything?

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