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Commute 003

Fri, Jul 20th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, July 16, 2001

I read an article last Sunday that said Americans are giving less attention to cleaning their houses. Once again, Im way ahead of a national trend.

My lack of cleaning skills is somewhat legendary in my family. Though they chide me on it, I know they appreciate that Ive given them a handy point of reference. My sisters (there are three) will always shine if compared to me when it comes to housekeeping. And woe to the cousin that my mom recently pronounced as having a "house messier than Bonnies!"

Im not proud of being messy. I was properly embarrassed at having my 2-year old daughter run screaming from a vacuum cleaner a few years ago. "Youd think shed never seen one before," someone muttered.

These days, if my kids notice me with cleaning tools in hand, theyre likely to shout with glee, "Grandmas coming!"

Im a good sport about it all, but I do wish there was a kinder, gentler name for my condition. I dont like being called "messy" or, God forbid, a "slob." I prefer to think of myself as Disinterested In Tidiness.

Probably underneath my Disinterest In Tidiness (DIT, for short) is the fact that Im not very good at cleaning. For starters, I dont seem to notice when things are getting a little "cluttered." Surely this is some kind of perception disorder. Then, when I do make up my mind to clean, Imwellinefficient.

For example, it crossed my mind recently to scrub and wax my kitchen floor. When I found myself with one hour home alone, no children in sight, I could hear opportunity knocking. A whole hour! I figured with that kind of free time I could deal with the kitchen floor, then play piano, get caught up on my reading, and write a poem or two. Imagine my frustration when it took a full forty minutes to scrub red crayon marks, that I hadnt even noticed before, from the vinyl floor. I barely had time to slap on the acrylic before I heard the pitter patter of tiny feet.

Its not that I had no examples to follow. My mother was the Master Cleaner. Her house always was, and still is, amodel of tidiness. But this apple fell far from the tree. Her cleaning lectures never seemed to leave an impression on me. Once I asked, in exasperation, "Why do you care so much about it anyway? Is that really what you want people to say about youthat she keeps a clean house?"

She stared at me like Id just asked whether the purpose of shoes was to wear them on your feet. Duh! See what I mean about my perception disorder?

When I was about fifteen, and Mom was out of town for four days, she left me with a list of housework to dothe things shed normally do everyday. I couldnt believe how exhausting it was! When she came home, I made the comment that she must be an "ace" to be able to do all these things. The name stuck, and to this day, twenty-five years later, we still call her Ace.

Okay, Im starting to get cold feet about this column. Surely there will be some who are shocked and disgusted at the way Im flaunting my moral failing, my Disinterest in Tidiness, to the whole world. Maybe it would help to know I do spend a lot of time feeling guilty for my housekeeping sins. If there was a "hair shirt" for bad housekeeping, maybe something made of SOS pads, Id wear it.

I know that my neatnik friends and relatives have long thought of my condition as something to pity, like a mental disorder that I cant help.

What they dont realize is Ive often wondered the same thing about their neatness.

Bonnie Prinsen

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