Lost Journal: The Labor Day Housework Marathon

Tim Mollen, Lost Journal: The Labor Day Housework Marathon

Journal entry: September 7, 2009 (age 40) – Labor Day Housework Marathon

This afternoon, I wore a huge, frozen smile as I walked over to my wife, Amanda, and showed her the bottom of the wastebasket I had just washed out. “Yes, Tim,” she nodded, “that’s very good!” Like many men, I need this kind of validation after completing the simplest of household tasks. Amanda will clean an entire room without mentioning it, but I feel the need to show her each handful of dust bunnies that I pull from behind the refrigerator. “Look at this one, honey! Good thing I got it out of there, huh?”

The two of us spent the entire Labor Day weekend cleaning every inch of our house. Because I’m a neat freak, but not a clean freak, this is not a common activity. A neat freak obsesses over any piece of clutter on a counter, desk, or table, while ignoring the half inch of dust on the bookshelves and the Rorschach stains on the kitchen floor. But when I do clean, I clean like a maniac. I clean the tops of the blades on ceiling fans, and the grills of radiator covers. I dust the top of every picture and door frame. I scrub the flat surfaces of the sashes between windows and storm windows. I power-wash the downspouts. I gleam the cube (Rubik’s).

Amanda is a cleaning generalist. She likes to do housework in small, frequent bursts of activity. This ensures that our bathroom and kitchen are usually in decent shape. I believe in a more “hose out the living room on leap year” approach. This ensures that small ecosystems in our closets face unnatural disaster only once in a dingy blue moon. (“Run, my microbial fellows, the pale giant has a Swiffer!)

Having a cat makes housework more difficult. Having three cats, as we do, makes it somewhat futile. It will only take a week or so before our clothes begin to pick up pet hair every time we sit in, lie down on, or glance at a piece of furniture. To get even with our little dander-throwers, we vacuum a bit longer and more violently than is necessary. Cats have an inordinate fear of vacuum cleaners, as though they share a collective memory of the first upholstery crevice attachment being gifted to the ancient Egyptians by the dog-headed Anubis, god of death and crumb removal.

Speaking of things that drunken archeologists think about, a thorough housecleaning can unearth long-forgotten totems from the distant past. An earring. Grandpa’s recipe for tripe margaritas. A ticket stub from a Color Me Badd concert. These are hypothetical, of course. I’ve never worn an earring, and I’m not sure which would be worse – a Color Me Badd concert or a tripe margarita. Ah, college.

Now that we’re finished cleaning, I look forward to wallowing in my own filth. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be proactive. I’m going to put open boxes of baking soda in every room. I figure that’ll buy us a year or two. And I’ve written to the research and development people at Glade to suggest a few new scents: “Foyer That’s Been Dusted Within the Last Four Months,” “Basement That’s Damp, but Draped with Bounce Sheets,” “Couch that Cats are Allergic to,” and my favorite, “Cage-free Humans.”

The following two tabs change content below.
Tim Mollen
Buy your copy of "Lost Journal - the Book" at www.timmollen.com. Each Lost Journal column is a journal entry written in retrospect. In other words, Mollen chooses a different day from his past, and writes about it as though it were today. The date may be last week, Halloween 1980, or the day he was born (May 4, 1969). Some of you may be asking, “But how would he have been able to write a journal entry on the day he was born?” To you he says: “Lighten up. It’s a humor column.” Mollen is a nationally syndicated columnist and actor, and he is available as a speaker on writing and humor.
Tim Mollen

Latest posts by Tim Mollen (see all)