Monday, May 10, 2010

No Place Like Home

Twenty minutes into the workday this morning I got a call from my Mom, "By any chance, did you bring a broom with you when you moved?"

Now, I don't really think that's why she called me at work. The broom was standing right next to the back door, in the utility room, which, I imagine, is where most people keep their brooms. What she meant to imply was: A. clearly, the floor had not been swept; B. the place was so chaotic, it was impossible to find a broom; and C. that she intended to take charge, and the sweeping was about to commence. What I'm amazed by, is that she lasted twenty minutes. I would've had odds on ten.

The first question out of her mouth when I walked in from the office was, "do you have anything else you want me to wash?" (Anything else? What else? Friday was Clean Sheets Day... maybe better known now as "Not Clean Enough Day," as regular readers already know. ) She added admiringly, "Look at this stainless steel drum on this washing machine. I'm sure we could even wash the comforters in here." (And we could. Except that they just came home from the dry cleaners. But the way she said it, they are an episode of Dateline waiting to happen -- the ones where they turn the glow-lights on the hotel linens?)

Her mother's day grace period had already expired, so I left her in the kitchen to go open the laptop and get some work done. All houseguests know the rules -- if they visit on deadline days, they don't see me except for meals. But her joy doesn't come from the act of cleaning, itself, so much as the act of lecturing me while she does it.  She followed me in, sorting my mail with one hand, and carrying a spray bottle of bleach with the other. "Why did you bother to move all this mail?" she asked ("all this" would consist of this month's electric bill, a Triple A renewal, and an invite I had to have to "present" to get into a McSwankerton party). "Well," I explained, "I have to pay for the electric, or they turn it off." The return dirty look suggested she did not care for sarcasm.

I tried to get back to work, but it was maybe five minutes before I got yelled at from the kitchen, "Come in here. I need to show you something." It was a grocery list of cleaning supplies -- the right fabric softener, the right kind of Shout (Tide Sticks won't do apparently). This was accompanied by more hands-on instruction, "See here... when the dishwasher doesn't get the glasses clean? I just run a nice sink full of hot soapy water!" (She was mortified by the spotty wine glasses we used at dinner last night.)

"You know," she said dryly, but (I am convinced) not idly, "I was watching this woman on Hoarders? And they threw away nine years of mail from her house. You could not walk in her house for all that mail."

I believed her, just as I believe she really thinks I am a candidate for an episode of that show.

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