Cleaning has never made it to the top ten on my to-do list. How fortunate that the technology boom provides endless opportunities to avoid hygienic endeavors. I’ve spent days troubleshooting with IT gurus about how to get the TV, computer, smart phone and other digitalized gadgets up, running and synched. Despite the inconvenience, I am grateful for the glitches built into this trendy equipment. The setbacks offer a welcome distraction from what I abhor – housework.
Before the existence of texting, emailing, Googling, Kindling, Facebooking, apping, streaming, Spotifying, Twittering, and troubleshooting, I expended an equivalent amount of time and energy engaged in productive activities. I stoked Ma Bell’s coffers with cash aplenty. In exchange, she offered world-wide connections via a landline. This breakthrough appliance tethered me to the phone for hours while I collected and parceled out gossip, weight loss tips, recipes, complaints, movie, book and restaurant reviews, and other vital statistics. Oh, the joys of skirting the dreaded broom.
There are also multiple diversions beyond my doorstep to entice me to clutter-free and dust-free surroundings. I often immerse myself in the library’s book stacks or browse through back-issued magazines and newspapers. Daily walks cleanse my mind. A Frisbee match with Nugget, the household mutt, serves double duty: It diverts him from plucking used paper towels and tissues out of the trash. Man’s best friend never fails to shred and distribute these used paper products throughout the house. Like his human housemates – the kids and my husband – our canine garbage collector never cleans up after himself. So, yes, engaging our dog in outdoor sporting events reduces my ever-accumulating workload.
From an early age, my kids learned to shun a dust mop and broom. Homework, social engagements, extracurriculars and other must-dos channeled them away from such menial exertions. But, once my offspring moved out of the house and into their own places, a transformation overcame them. They lost their desire to wallow in unmade beds and disarray. Dishes encrusted with fossilized spaghetti and containers half-filled with stagnant beverages no longer teetered on stacks of books, magazines or paper-strewn table tops. Dust thick enough to sign an I-was-here message is no longer accumulated on end tables.
This turnaround not only shocks, but shames me into cleaning up my own act. With the soap and calcified toothpaste spatters gone from the bathroom mirror, I’m stunned by my own transformation. I’ve aged.
The next time I get the urge to give our home a once-over, I’ll remember Erma Bombeck’s mantra: “My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.” Hear, hear.
Carol, in keeping with her tradition of pursuing low-income professions, has launched a new career – writing. She has completed two memoirs, Tails Behind the Scenes: the Uncanny Parallels Between my Zoo Career and Family Life, Desert Deliverance: a Tongue-in-Cheek Memoir, and a multitude of short stories. Most of her work is accumulating dust in the computer’s hard drive, but retirement from parenting, zookeeping, and teaching the visually impaired has stripped her of an identity. That compels Carol to remake herself, this time – with any luck – as a world-acclaimed writer.