COUNTY AGENT GUY
The Holidays certainly have their benefits – the main one being having license to consume coma-inducing amounts of food – but there is also a dark side to this season.
And no, I don’t mean the Dark Side in the new Star Wars movie, a flick that’s more popular this holiday season than Santa Claus.
One of the major downsides to the Holiday Season is having house guests.
It’s not that my wife and I don’t enjoy having company. Quite the contrary; we like nothing better than a household full of friends, relatives and the occasional stray dog.
What troubles me is all the housecleaning that I must endure in preparation for our guests.
My wife and I have been together for 35 years. During our decades of sharing living quarters, we have reached an understanding regarding household clutter.
She wants our home to be much cleaner than it is and I understand that. I don’t actually do anything about it, but I understand it.
As far as I’m concerned, the house doesn’t require cleaning until it gets to the point where heavy-duty earthmoving equipment is needed.
Our home has never has been (and never will be) spiffy enough to be worthy of a Martha Stewart Living cover.
But neither has it ever been declared an EPA Superfund cleanup site.
Our house usually inhabits Goldilocks Zone of the messiness scale: not so sloppy that the Health Department should be called and not so spic and span that you don’t dare exhale lest you disturb the house’s sanitized perfection.
There were stretches when our home may have been a tad messier that it should. These periods could best be described as “most of the time.”
While I may be comfortable with a certain level of untidiness, my wife feels that my slovenly habits shouldn’t afflict our houseguests.
As such, the Holiday Season is also Housecleaning Season.
“Could you quick do me a favor?” my wife asked one recent evening when I was engrossed in the critical activity of checking to make sure that all the TV channels were working.
Experience has taught me that “could you quick do me a favor?” can be a loaded question. Its follow-up could range from “Would you drink the rest of this bottle of beer for me?” to “My water just broke. Can you take me to the hospital?”
This time, the follow-up seemed quite innocuous. “Could you straighten that picture for me?” she asked.
Easy enough. I hopped out of my recliner and made the requested readjustment. But when I turned back toward my chair, my wife was handing a dust rag to me.
“Since you’re up, maybe you can wipe off that top shelf. It’s too high for me to reach.”
Rats. I had fallen for that old “can you quick do this for me?” trick.
I had just begun obliterating the herd of dust bunnies that had taken over the shelf when my wife said, “Quit humming ‘Short People.’ It’s not my fault that I’m vertically challenged.”
There’s no end to the requests for assistance once the perpetual housecleaning machine has been set in motion.
Before I knew it, I was teetering on a chair with dust rag in hand, inhaling the toxic fumes of Dust Bunny Buster spray as I mopped cobwebs from a ceiling corner.
“Do we really need to do this?” I asked as I brushed something stringy from my face. “We never look up here. And if you can’t see a cobweb, does it even exist? It’s like that whole tree falling in the forest thing.”
But alas. Waxing philosophical has yet to get me out of waxing.
Cleaning your stuff makes you keenly aware of how much stuff you have. I remarked to my wife, “Keeping the house tidy would be a lot easier if we owned fewer things. Remember when we first met? I was a bachelor farmer and all I had were a table and two chairs.”
“A gnarly old plank laid across a set of sawhorses isn’t a table,” she replied. “And empty 5-gallon buckets aren’t chairs.”
I went to the basement to retrieve some cleaning equipment. Our cat, Sparkles, meowed at me lazily from her bed. Sparkles is strictly a barn cat except for when it’s cold outside. She is then allowed to become a basement cat.
I was about to berate Sparkles for her sloth when I noticed that her whiskers were laced with cobwebs. Her mouse patrolling activities came with the added bonus of cobweb removal.
“Come here, Sparkles,” I coaxed, “I have some low corners that need attention. How do you feel about the smell of Dust Bunny Buster spray?”
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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