"If anyone tells you married life is bliss, slap 'em with a wet broom."

The Muse and I don't share everything. We don't, for instance, share a HouseCleaning ethic. What's clean for one of us doesn't quite pass muster for the other, so HouseCleaning days turn stressful for both of us. I try to stay out from underfoot, choosing an opposite side of the place to focus my efforts, hoping she'll get occupied somewhere else until I can finish, but the plot rarely unfolds that way. I'll be elbow deep in some special gift of a job, like dusting "her" plant shelves, and she'll show up to find the work somehow shoddy, or at least not quite the way she'd envisioned it being done. Yes, I moved every plant. Yes, I removed the shelves to clean both top and underside, but she'd wanted to move the shelves, too, so though I'd finished every shelf and returned the plants to the same places they'd inhabited before, she removes them again so she can move the shelves and vacuum beneath them. I go aargh!

A few iterations of this and I escape to the kitchen, figuring can clean the stovetop in peace. Three minutes later, she's occupied the sink to water the plants there while I stand aside, holding a dripping washrag waiting for access to the sink again.
She finally clears out and I finish that job before starting to polish furniture. I'm about finished with oiling the master bedroom pieces when I'm recalled back to move the furniture I've just finished polishing. She wants to vacuum beneath those guys, too. I finally retreat to the guest bedroom to hyperventilate a while until recalled back to the master bedroom to move this or that again.

I'm listening to a recorded book and she wants to chat or direct or whatever she's saying. I'm trying to maintain a certain rhythm and she seems either oblivious to my rhythm or working hard to break it. The day degrades into starting and stoping for me, the most exhausting and frustrating way to work. I seem incapable of anticipating anything as well as suddenly inept at completing anything. She turns terribly teutonic sometimes, determined to scrub the grain out of woodwork and suck half the fiber out of the carpet. For years, I begged off on dusting but assumed full responsibility for all the other HouseCleaning. I demurred on the dusting because I honestly could not see the stuff. I counseled her to just take off her glasses to make it disappear, but she grew up in country where dust thought it was king and continually reconquered everything. For her, a house just can't qualify as tidy as long as a spec of dust survives a cleaning onslaught. No matter how well I'd clean the rest of the place, when she spotted an undusted surface, she reacted as if I'd been slacking my butt off all day.

Like her mysterious laundry sorting algorithm, The Muse's HouseCleaning ethic cannot be described or explained except by omission. Miss a spot, and she'll tell me what she could not explain beforehand. This makes work ego-battering. A half hour into a HouseCleaning collaboration and I feel like an absolute idiot, as if I'd never wielded a broom or mopped a floor. What I considered a reasonably tidy personal HousecCleaning ethic feels offended. My feelings end up wounded and I want to just give up. When the only explanation comes as criticism, I don't even want to please myself anymore.

Whenever ethics get involved, it's difficult to find common ground. There, right is right and wrong is wrong with little negotiation room available or possible. Deep breathing seems necessary as the dust flies because murder by scrub brush, however hygienic, rarely turns a jury generous when meting out justice. We hired professionals for a while, but they left the place smelling like a Motel 6 and hardly satisfied The Muse's standards. If she's gonna be dissatisfied with the result, she can just rely upon me to complete the job and not pay any premium for the privilege. I consider myself to be a crackerjack house cleaner, but my opinion's in the minority here.

If anyone tells you married life is bliss, slap 'em with a wet broom.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus