April 2, 2015

the hausfrau blues

Warning (no, wait---WARNING): the following domestic rant may contain MANY ALL-CAPITALS WORDS, indicative of extreme exasperation and profound sarcasm. Sensitive persons should not proceed...

Like other mothers and housekeepers, I am a very talented person...Out of three people in the household who are (theoretically) in possession of their full mental and physical faculties, I am the ONLY one who can perform many of the tedious daily or occasional tasks necessary to keep a house running in reasonable comfort and hygiene. Some of the tasks that only I can do:

Washing dishes by hand. Well, getting them TO THE SINK for starters, and then washing them. Specifically, washing them in hot---not cool or luke-warm---water AND soap, and rinsing them properly so they are grease-free and soap-free, and stacking them intelligently in the drainer. I would suggest that cast iron pots should not go on top of delicate old cups or crystal glasses, for example.

Washing dishes in a dishwasher. The first, most critical step in this complicated process is moving dirty dishes from counter or sink INTO THE DISHWASHER. Apparently, this is very challenging. The next hurdle is deploying them in the washer such that they actually get clean, i.e., glassware etc on top, pots and plates in the bottom (there are these cleverly designed racks for various types of dishes!), and all more or less facing the direction of the sprayer. Oh, and NOT putting large items over small items is helpful; for some unfathomable reason, the top items don't get clean when that is done. I used my superior powers of deductive reasoning to determine that it occurs because the bottom item is blocking the top item...genius! I KNEW I went to university for something!

Sweeping or vacuuming, (let alone mopping), floors. I know, it's difficult to see when it needs to be done...I have to go on subtle clues, like looking down and seeing filth, or detecting tumbleweeds of cat fur, or walking barefoot in the house and thinking DEAR GODDESS WHAT IS THAT CRUNCHY CRAP UNDERFOOT? My sensitive and indeed, abnormally acute, sensory organs must put me at an advantage here. Clearly no one else notices the filth.

Scrubbing the loos and bathtubs. Ohhhh, believe me, I do know that this room's chores rate very low on anyone's list of rotten crap that must be done. It's pretty well at the bottom of mine. but when it is neglected, things get DISGUSTING. Please, please, people---this is NOT a fun job EVER. But no one person is exempt from doing his/her part to maintain a bare minimum of cleaning-up-after-oneself, so that the poor sod (ME, in this case) who has to deal with the lavatories etc doesn't want to drown him/herself on bathroom cleaning day. If you are older then 3 years, you SHOULD be able to use the facilities accurately. Tooth-brushing CAN be done WITHOUT spraying toothpaste all over the mirror and/or walls/vanity. Make-up CAN be applied without tinting the sink, counter, walls, mirror. Still, I know that I'm the only one talented enough to scrub mildew and soap scum from shower walls and bath, polish that toothpaste spray off everything, and clean the loo. I know that I'm a rarely gifted person, because I see people in public restrooms leaving puddles of water, smears of soap, trash, and assorted unmentionable filth for other poor bastards---whose miserable, underpaid job it is to clean those places---to deal with. They are probably the same people who take toddlers and small children to eat in restaurants, and leave behind an unholy mess, which I presume they just don't have the proper eyesight to see, poor things. But I digress...

Trash duty. From throwing away teabag wrappers to taking the trash out to the bigger rubbish bin when it's overflowing, this rocket-science level chore is mine, all mine, 99% of the time. I'm also the only one who has discovered the concept of trash compaction: sometimes, there is no room in the bin because it's largely filled with fluffy, uncompressed, large-volume things like styrofoam take-away boxes. I know when this has happened, because I find the lid on the bin sitting up, ajar, often with random bits of trash strewn about the base of the bin. Again, using my blindingly brilliant insight, I found that TRASH CAN BE SQUASHED. That's right, one can compact the rubbish downward, making space for MORE trash. (Don't hate, I'm just that smart.) Then, shockingly, the lid will stay shut, and excess bits of trash don't end up on the floor. There's a catch, you say? YES, YES THERE IS...Only one person has hands that are, well, profane enough, low-status enough, to perform this annoying task of trash compaction. Can you guess whose hands are deemed worthy of this unpleasantness that no one else wants to do? MINE. I'm the scullion, the grubby little minion who gets that one. 

Pantry and refrigerator inventory. Sometimes, a family member will be rummaging in the fridge, and will---it happens---run across an item that is clearly in need of being thrown out. Something ICKY. Something unpleasant. But despite having sufficient sensory processing capability to identify it as disgusting, they seem to lack any idea of where it SHOULD go. So naturally, THEY PUT IT BACK IN THE FRIDGE. What else could they do?! Only my expertise with filth, trash, and dishwashing can tackle this sticky wicket. It's really gross to have to scrape out spoiled food into the bin, and to rinse the container and either recycle or wash it, as appropriate. Really, only I am equipped to deal with that. Sometimes, too, they are looking for an item that we may have run out of, and that triggers a crisis moment. Yes, there is war and abuse and suffering and miscarriage of justice all around the globe, but what can that matter compared to the outrage of being OUT OF PEANUT BUTTER? Yet, inexplicably, my psychic abilities occasionally fail me, allowing us to run out of family member preferred staples. Mea culpa. Perhaps I shall (again) suggest that the tragic absence or impending absence of these can't-live-without items should be noted on a simple list. I am pretty sure that everyone in this house CAN WRITE.

Turning off lights. It SEEMS simple---modern homes are equipped with lights that switch on and off via handy little wall switches or buttons or lamp switches, which are designed such that anyone with a functional opposable thumb ought to be able to operate them easily. Sadly, they failed to design for the fact that a person must be able to REMEMBER to turn lights off when they leave the closet or room or task area where they were using them...I'd suggest that scientists need to work on creating a "get your head out of your arse" feature that could be added to lights, which would somehow train these people to turn off the lights when they were left on in the absence of motion for a certain period of time. A brief electric shock would do nicely, perhaps. If successful, the device could be added to cupboard doors and dresser drawers in order to train people to SHUT THEM, as well.

I seem to recall that most of us are taught as little children a simplistic view of life, in which the concept of self-management is communicated. One hears (heard) things like: If you take it out, you put it back. If you spilled it, clean it up. If you turned it on, turn it off. If you use it up, tell someone more is needed. This rather sadly sets people up for a lifetime of confusion and dismay, because obviously, many of them will grow up to find that they simply lack the proper skills and awareness to maintain this level of self-governance and environmental cleanliness. Oh, sure, they may shuffle along distressfully for some while, narrowly avoiding disease and death, but eventually they will acquire other people in their lives---a paid housemaid, a significant other, a mother, a room-mate with more finely tuned sensibilities---who will, perforce, take over the tiresome duties that these more challenged people cannot manage. People commonly known as HOUSEWIVES: the few, the clever, the capable... tirelessly doing for others what they so evidently cannot do for themselves, in the name of human health and sanity; boldly going where others choose not to go...

Now please tell me we are not out of vodka... 

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