I’m not going to lie: I’m not the best housekeeper. I employ the ancient art of collecting lots of pretty baskets, throwing random junk in them until they get full, then purchasing additional baskets to handle the overflow. My whites come out barely whiter-than-black. It doesn’t help that Stadler-the-Dog cultivates terrible smells so extensively that her resume should list “Stink Farmer” as her primary occupation. Also, my beloved yard lizards have recently decided (evidently en masse) that they’d much rather be house lizards. They keep sneaking through the dog door and stowing away in my orchids. This has resulted in several dropped pots, and terrible evictions wherein both lizard and landlord caterwaul about the unfairness of the situation. Todd, a reptilian recidivist who enjoys dog food, may actually have squatter’s rights by now.
This said, for the most part my home appears clean(ish) and reeks like “Kitchen Sunshine” (which in turn smells a lot like Lemon Pledge) wax cubes which can be purchased for a mere $2 at HEB. I am aware of certain filth pockets which I typically try to forget — out of sight and mostly out of mind until some sunny Saturday in spring when I find myself precariously perched atop a step ladder, gangster rap blaring, dusting as though I channeled a tornado made of wolverines, and wondering how things could “possibly have gotten this bad.” Prime examples of this blissful ignorance include filthy (possibly lizard-y) ceiling fans and tops of picture frames.
This week, however, my out-of-sight routine encountered a hitch. My friend, Lena (yes, you probably know her) decided to drive to Corpus from Charleston, South Carolina with her giant dog, Scooter. She told me her plan well in advance, giving me plenty of time to incrementally tear the house apart and clean all the grossness pockets. Yeah, right. I, of course, procrastinated.
I started cleaning the morning of the arrival. Mistake #1. By 10 a.m., my house was torn apart, only a little razor wire short of looking like a Latvian missile testing facility. I had dramatically careened into the stage-of-scrubbing-for-company where everything was much, much worse than when I started. Cleaning products dripped all over the kitchen floor. The freshly washed curtains created an inadvertent tent city, held up by my disassembled couch. The bathroom was coated in bleach and Comet layers so thick that they resembled striations in antediluvian granite. Despite the mess, the front of the house was so quiet you could hear a lizard fart. I had paused all of the above because I decided mid-stream that it was most important to focus on the spare bedroom.
Calling my second bedroom a ‘multipurpose space’ is a nice way of saying that it provides storage for various overflow problems that are too big for baskets. My collection of shoes I don’t wear, but still like to look at is the worst of these. Last January, the floor to shoe ratio in the spare room finally tipped to the “unfavorable to human survival” side. Because the deadliness of five inch platform heels approaches that of a spilled bucket of Legos, I began referring to the area as “Shoe-ma-geddon,” and purchased a vertical storage rack.
When I’m involved, “some assembly” requires several distinct phases.
Phase #1: Build it backwards. Figure out that project is backwards due to project falling on self/floor/dog/dinner/lizard. Start over.
Phase #2: Build correctly. Project still falls apart and lands on head/dog/family heirloom/lizard because I had to take it apart with a claw hammer. Phase #2(a): Throw project on floor in spare room and cuss at it every time I see it. This can take months.
Phase #3: Super glue. (The BAD phase). I once glued my right foot to a carpet with Liquid Nails and had to cut myself out with scissors. I had a hairy heel for two weeks.
At this point, I was still only on Phase #2. I either had to fix the rack, or throw it out and pile the shoes on the closet floor. “That just won’t do for a guest,” complained my inner Heloise. I took the hint. Time to initiate Phase #3! Amazingly, I got the thing glued/pounded together without sticking anything to myself. However, the shelf had a gazillion parts, each of which must irrevocably stick to some other piece, or risk further total tower collapse. Construction took hours, but I got it done at about the same time Lena was fighting her way through Houston. “Ab, a city bus just crossed four lanes of traffic! It almost took out some old pickup without tags going 28 in a 70. We’re going to die for sure.”
“No way, Lena! That’s just the Houston version of Tokyo Drift. Quick, see if you can spot Vin Diesel’s counterpart, Van Weasel.”
“I don’t know, some weasly looking guy driving a windowless kidnap van?”
“OH! I see four of those!”
The race was on. Time was of the essence. I realized that I was never going to get things both actually clean and reassembled in the approximately three hours I had left, so I evolved into the final stage of housekeeping-for-company: “Flying to Phuket.” Suffice it to say, that while every lizard I could find was forcibly evicted, and the house really looks clean, it’s all just as cosmetic as ever. At any moment, a painting might shift, dislodging a deluge of filth (and possibly lizards). Lena is a good person, though. She may notice the dust, but I’m pretty sure she won’t write in it. The jury is still out on the lizards.