It is called spring cleaning for a reason. In the spring months after weeks of cold weather and accumulated dirt and grime, the warmer days bring the desire and opportunity to go through the house, garage, car, office, yard and everywhere else to spruce things up for that physical and emotional lift clean brings. This year, like most, I refrained in participating in the ritual for a couple reasons: one, I hate cleaning and two, by the time I felt like spring had sprung and no one ever heard of summer cleaning.
But like everything else in 2020, my plan on procrastinating “the big clean” for another year got upset by an irresistible force: my girlfriend, Leslie. While I view cleaning as dreadful and ignorable, she views it as a necessity and joyful task which brings peace and harmony to our existence, or some such nonsense. Before being widowed, I was married long enough to have learned the necessary truths, if Momma is happy, everyone is happy and an even more important answer to any debate, “yes dear, you are right, I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Therefore, when Leslie made it clear it was time to forge into my less-than-annual cleaning, I knew what the result would be, but being a guy I had two tricks up my sleeve.
The first was to suggest I hire a maid. She assured me in the present state, no maid
would touch my domain.
The second was a “hail Mary” attempt. I said I would be glad to participate… in the spring. She pointed out the calendar on my kitchen wall was still open to the month of March, meaning in my little world, it was the perfect time for spring cleaning.
So even with no heart in the project, we have undergone the arduous task of cleaning my house.
The task is not as easy as it may sound. I have learned there is a fundamental difference in how men and women look at the tchotchke in their world. A woman will ask, “have you used it in the past six months?” If the answer is no, to the trash pile it goes. A man looks at that same item and asks, “Is there any chance I might use this sometime in the next six years?” If so, it should be kept.
For those of you keeping score at home, the female answer is, if not correct, the one which is adhered to.
I like to think most of my items have great value, both monetarily and emotionally. Leslie sees most of it as trash paper and plastic. My suggestion when we started, to which she agreed, was everything would be divided into three piles: one to keep, one
to donate and one to throw away. To date, I have kept less than a breadbox full; charity has yet to receive a donation; and my trash man has had to call in reinforcements to deal with the front-yard pile of refuse.
What makes cleaning so frustrating is after days of work, you realize there are still days of work. My idea of a good cleaning is to take something off a shelf, run a feather duster in its vicinity and put it on another shelf, much like a grocer rearranging shelves to keep shoppers looking at new things. My philosophy has been “new shelf, clean house.” Leslie’s approach is more of a “off the shelf and into the trash makes a clean house.” She is right.
I also contend that men care more for function while women like things pretty. My example is a guy doesn’t mind having a tool in the middle of the house because he wants something functional close at hand. A woman, on the other hand, likes to put pretty things on the wall, not because they are functional, but because they are pretty.
I posed this quandary to Leslie by asking why do useless things always go on the wall. She answered with a question, “Why do I have a 2015 World Series base hanging on my wall? What purpose does it serve?” Again, as I should have known from the beginning, she is right.
Three weeks in and we have completed about one-quarter of my house. We are hopeful by the holidays I will have cleared my dining room table and a good home will be found for my VHS collection.
Personally, I still don’t see the fuss, but for the first time in a long time I have seen the carpet in my home office. I had thought it was gray, but when she ran the vacuum, we discovered it is actually red. Who knew?
As always, if you are out and about, please wear a mask.