He Says: God Help You Dust Mites
My lovely wife has a problem. She hates dust. I mean hates it. She has a family friend that tells a story about my wife when she was younger. She used to go over to his place to clean when she was a teenager. Apparently, she would show up bright and early on Saturday mornings while he was still asleep. She would pull all the curtains in the house and open the windows. Then she would open the door to his bedroom and say, “Leave or forever hold your peace.” At which point she would twist open a large bottle of bleach and prepare for battle. As this family friend puts it, “The moment that bottle cap spun, you could here all the dust in the house scurrying for their lives…and I quickly followed their lead.” I can confirm the truth of this account. Over the years, I have learned to head for the hills when it’s cleaning day. There’s not a drop of bleach left in the bottle when she’s finished.
I also have a problem. I hate clutter. I mean hate it. I feel anxious and claustrophobic when my house becomes full of clutter. I go on tears where I pick up every dish, shoe, shirt, book, or bag that is lying around the house. I know, this is not very “guy like” of me, but I just can’t stand it. I don’t need to be worried about tripping over a high heel or computer bag every time I enter into a new room. Since when does the centermost point of the living room seem like a perfect place for a jacket? (All of you out there thinking just wait until you have kids, shut it.)
You would think these two problems dovetail perfectly into an immaculately clean house. While the latter might be true, the perfection of the dovetail is up for debate. You see, my wife loves clutter. Well, she doesn’t love it, per se, but she seems to have a tendency to attract it. This constantly drives me nuts. I’m always moving a book from the floor or sliding a bag out of the threshold. On the other hand, she hates how I clean. Her opinion is that it’s not cleaning if you don’t move every couch, table, chair, lamp or shelf. I try to argue that I’m maintaining the cleanliness of the house until the next big cleaning day. She doesn’t buy it.
To add to it, I seem to attract crumbs the same way my wife attracts clutter. They just gravitate toward me. I’m pretty sure I have a magnetic pull that crumbs simply can’t resist. What can I say. So every time a cookie or a bag of chips comes near me, my wife begins to stare at me, watching my every move. I try to do the hand-under-the-mouth move to catch the crumbs. You know, the one that dainty ladies in white gloves do while they’re eating their caviar. I catch every single crumb. Not a drop spilled. I’m impressed with myself. Then I stand up and the couch cushion has crumbs everywhere. Magnetic I tell you. I eat every bite in the same fear that my wife’s old family friend had every Saturday morning.
And don’t even ask about the terror I have during the nighttime bathroom run. For all the females that don’t understand the nighttime pee dilemma, let me explain to you what us males go through. There are some nights when we are woken up by the sensation to have to urinate. After fighting it for about 10 minutes and trying to fall back asleep, we eventually cannot hold it any more and have to make our way to the bathroom. Once entering the bathroom, we have a decision to make. We have suffered through getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom, but we’re still half asleep. To avoid waking up any further, we opt to use the toilet sans light. So there we stand, in the pitch black, prepared for the nighttime pee. It is at this point that a uniquely male fear occurs.
At the moment of streamage, if we hear water, we relax and finish in a dreamlike state. In fact, oftentimes we actually fall back asleep right there in the bathroom and sleep walk back to bed. The nighttime pee was a smashing success. However, if we don’t hear water, but instead hear the sound of porcelain, we freeze like someone that has seen a ghost. Which direction is the edge of the toilet? Which direction is the water? Can I just finish where I’m currently aimed? Am I too close to the edge and I need to adjust? Should I try to reach for the light to assess the situation? It is a truly terrifying moment for males that the muliebrous just wouldn’t understand. Now imagine the trepidation with which I approach the nighttime bathroom break, knowing the dust-Nazi is probably somewhere watching me in the dark.
Such is my life, though, constantly living in fear of a crumb falling from my mouth, a drip falling from my…well…, or lint falling from my belly-button onto the floor. It’s a hard cross I carry, I know. But I carry it well. Nevertheless, I just can’t help but wonder, if I am constantly trying not to drop a miniscule crumb or a piece of atom on the floor, how come my wife never seems to try to put things back in their place? No, honey, really, I love 18 lotions and hair products strewn about the bathroom. I really do. It goes perfectly with the bra you immediately removed after work that is now draped from the television I’m trying to watch.
I’m not kidding when I say that I’m obsessed with cleaning. It’s perhaps one of my most favorite past times. I always knew I liked it. In fact, I spent most of my youth cleaning homes of my own family and my parents close friends for a little spare change. Even when I’d get called off to babysit on a random afternoon, I’d spend almost as much time cleaning the children’s bedrooms as I would entertaining the children themselves.
I thank my mother for this character trait and for proving that bleach and a mop really can be your best friends. She taught me how to fold clothes, do dishes, scrub a floor on my hands and knees and even how to implement the most effective way to vacuum a room.
I can honestly say that these tutorials began just out of the womb. I distinctly remember not having the coordination or height to sweep dirt into a dustpan or to communicate my inability to do so around the age of two. Instead of risking my mother’s wrath that afternoon by complaining I couldn’t finish my task, I commissioned siblings to assist. One would hold the dust pan and another would hop on my shoulders to help me push the tall broom around collecting the dirt into the pan. Afterwards, I’d hustled outside to mow the lawn, build a deck or do something equally as challenging before it was time to start cooking dinner.
You can only imagine how my love of and expertise in cleaning has had a place in my marriage. My husband comes from an equally chore-conscious family. But he himself lacks the obsessive compulsive disorder trait that compliments the passion so well. Because of this, arguments over how to clean have sadly arisen on many occasions.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am pleased as punch that my husband faithfully blurs the traditional female slash male home making roles established back when my parents first wed. He expects me to mow the lawn just as much as he expects himself to fold my straight-from-the-dryer delicates. And I appreciate his every effort made to help keep the house tidy. I just wish he’d let me tell him how to do it.
Once upon a time, he called me The Foreman. Unfortunately, this only pertained to how he painted the house because I literally sat watching his every brush stroke. Is it weird that I’d like him to call me the same when he’s sweeping? Or dusting? Or throwing in a load of laundry? Or is it odd altogether that I’d prefer he just watch sports or tinker in the garage while I wash all the windows myself?
The topic is now open for discussion …