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The war against grime


Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
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Monday, January 29, 2001

I had a feeling that there was something in the wind. There seemed to be an unnatural quiet and I had a premonition that something dreadful was going to happen. It was as though there was a dense fog bank and I knew something was out there but I couldnít see it and I couldnít hear it but I knew that something wicked was coming my way. I did not know how to prepare for it or what I should guard against. I became jumpy and irritable and lost what little power of concentration that I had. I wanted to crawl into a deep hole and pull a large rock in behind me. I began to wish that whatever was about to strike would do so and then perhaps I could deal with it.

It was a Tuesday morning that the blow fell; the Earth quaked, lightning struck and I learned of my fate. I realized that there was nothing that I could have done either to prepare myself for it or to have prevented it. There comes a time when resistance is futile and a man, if he has any smarts at all, must surrender and accept his fate. There was no place to run and I couldnít hide. The Supreme Being of the House announced that she was about to launch the Spring Cleaning. It is not Spring but she declared, that since I was just sitting around the house taking up space, We might just as well get started. I feel that I must define the word We. When she says We, We is not the we Noah Webster had in mind. We means that I shall be under close supervision for the next few days; thatís what We means.

We first had to get organized -- which meant launching a successful attack on the must, dust, mold, and mildew that had somehow, unbeknownst to me, occupied our house. We had to mobilize a vast array of brooms, mops, pails, dust cloths, and vacuum cleaners and then We launch a successful attack on the forces of Dirt and Dust that had somehow taken possession of the house.

Well, the battle ground is a two story house with eight dirty rooms, two dusty baths, a dirty basement, and a double attached garage that, apparently to some, is in complete disarray and is in dire need to array. The plan is to start at the top in the bedrooms. The bed had to be stripped and then disassembled, the drawers had to be removed from the dresser and the contents dumped in a pile. Bed, dresser, night table, and lamps were removed from the room. The ceiling, beams, and log walls must be vacuumed. The closet emptied and clothes sorted. Once the closet is cleaned some of the clothes will go back in, the rest are put aside for a gigantic garage sale to be held sometime in May.

When it comes to preparing for gigantic garage sales, I know of strong men who have been driven to strong drink by the very thought of the ordeal, but that is another story. When the bedroom is cleaned, the bed and furniture are moved back in and the dresser is cleaned and polished; the contents of the drawers are replaced with the exception of certain articles that are headed for the garage sale, such as some of the cuff links and tie clasps.

The same drill is executed in the other three bedrooms and I wonder why the two of us need four bedrooms; but what would we do with all of the beds, tables, chairs, lamps, and other stuff if we didnít have the extra bedrooms; and where would my brother-in-law spend his summers?

There is one nice thing about bathrooms, there is little if anything that can be moved or carried out of the room. A little scrubbing here and there and the bathroom was done. And only the one in the basement was left. The upper story is now cleaned and We got the job done in only two days.

There are four rooms on the main level, kitchen with a fireplace, dining room, living room with a fire place, and my library, which as far as I can see, isnít in need of attention. It seems, however, that I donít see as well as certain other people do.

There, in what I refer to as my library, are twenty shelves which hold half a dozen or so books on English grammar and usage, four Spanish textbooks, a large coffeetable covered with books on movies and film stars of the twenties through the forties, a VCR, a couple of lamps, a stand for my unabridged dictionary, a large framed map of Ireland, various plaques and awards that I have accumulated over the years, my desk, chair, and typewriter.

It seems that each one of these videos must be removed, the shelves dusted, each video must then be dusted and put back into place. If and when We finish cleaning this vast depository for dust and dirt, We will descend into that bottomless pit which We call the basement. Once We come up out of the basement, We will stagger over to the garage where, I must admit, the situation is hopeless. There is a guy down the road who has a front end loader and a dump truck. I think that I can with the right number of dollars persuade him to remove the big stuff and then in two or three days I might be able to restore some sort of order and make ready to fill it up with all that junk thatís going to be put on sale for all of those suckers that are always looking for treasure and bargains.

Now the work is not finished. But by a stroke of good luck, my dentist called me and remined me of those root canals that I have been putting off for far too long. I will now be able to retire from the fields of battle for reasons of health and I know that Iím going to enjoy those root canals.

John Flaherty

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