Column: Mr. Clean he's not, but he puts on good act


Brynne texts. She’s leaving Indy. She’ll arrive in 2.5 hours.

You know that sound in cheesy submarine movies when an alarm goes off, signaling that an emergency dive is imminent? That’s the sound I hear any time I see her departure text. Instead of sending me into a deep dive, it sends me into a state of deep dread. I have only 2.5 hours to make my house somewhat presentable.

My house is in perpetual disarray. Think Sanford and Son, minus the son, but add two cats and a dog. Home Sweet Hairball Hell. The house is so messy that it could be the setting for a new reality TV show, Habitat for Inhumanity, which could provide me with the sole credential apparently needed to become President of the United States: reality TV star.

The only downside to Brynne is despite the geographical distance between us, she likes me enough to actually visit. I’d rather drive to Indy just to avoid having to clean my house. If a therapist dug deep enough into my psyche to determine why I am actually in a long-distance relationship, he or she would discover it’s because long-distance relationships don’t require constant house cleaning. A week or two might pass before it’s necessary to chisel away at the dried-up toothpaste.

Don’t get me wrong. I love nothing more than to be around Brynne; however, I hate nothing more than the pre-visit preparation.

Cleaning the shower usually means accidentally bumping the corner tension caddy just enough to set off the spring-loaded mechanism that creates an explosion of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and apricot scrub bottles, as if I actually activated a dirty bomb, sending my daughter’s Bic Soleil razors to whizz dangerously past my ears. It takes a good 20 minutes to wrestle the shower caddy pole into submission so that it once again fits snugly between the ceiling and tub.

Cleaning the toilet usually results in the blue cleaner splashing into my eyes when I over-aggressively brush the bowl, causing me to waste a few more minutes flushing out my eyes due to fear of blindness. If I ever do go blind, I don’t want it to be due to toilet cleansers. How awkward would that be when explaining the eye patch?

I vacuum the latest crop of cat hair rolling through my house like sagebrush in a Western. The cats shed like a three-month-old Christmas tree. The hair is so abundant it should be baled.

Having a dog in the house also doesn’t help matters. Once, it barfed on the kitchen floor, which instantly set off the always-observant white cat’s gag reflex, causing it too to vomit on the kitchen floor, leaving two messes to clean up — almost three when I felt the dry heaves coming on.

Though Brynne possesses the couth to not comment on my messy house, I still put pressure on myself to greet her with a clean home. Mainly it’s because she is the cleanest person I know. She actually confesses to liking to clean. Her house is spotless. She loves giving her abode attention. Apparently, she just can’t give enough. She gives her long kitchen table a weekly 90-degree twist so that whenever I visit, it has been repositioned to run in a different direction, pointing north to south one visit, east to west the next, back and forth, back and forth, the table beautifully decorated with mats and napkins matching the current season or holiday. Either Brynne moves the table herself or she has very tidy, OCD poltergeists.

Recently, Brynne decorated the outside of her house with ghoulish things for Halloween. She even hung cobwebs. Fake cobwebs! As in store-bought cobwebs! That’s how clean her house is — Brynne has to buy cobwebs! Mine are natural, thank you. I basically celebrate Halloween year round. Oh, and yes, those spiders on my kitchen floor — they’re not rubber, buster. 

The greatest housecleaning tool is the tablecloth. It’s a total time saver. All I do is cover whatever mess is there, leaving behind the tell-tale shapes of uncleaned plates and glasses from a past dinner or the inhaling, exhaling lump of a lazy, tablecloth-covered cat. At least the tablecloth tent keeps the cat hair in check.

Time flies. Brynne arrives in Jasper. As usual, there’s still much cleaning to be done, resulting in my favorite housecleaning trick. I move the vacuum near the front door so she has no choice but to notice it, its black cord still plugged into the socket in the next room. I lean a broom against the wall, my stingy attempt at a Halloween decoration. I leave on the kitchen faucet, giving the impression that her arrival has surprised me and pulled me away from whatever it is I might have been doing there. As an added touch, I set out the Windex.

This exercise in creative staging gives the impression that I have been on a major housecleaning spree. It also might insinuate that I plan to do even more. Or best-case scenario: Brynne enters, cannot resist the squirt sound of Windex, and seconds later, all the dog nose smudges and human handprints on my sliding door windows are wiped away.  Note to self: Next time leave out an open bucket of paint. That Brynne, she’s a keeper.

The Live at the Beehive Will Read and Sing For Food show scheduled for this Friday at 7 p.m. has been moved indoors to Sultan’s Run Golf Course. It features Channing and Quinn, The Honey Vines and the WRASFF players. The public show benefits the Jasper Community Arts’ program for individuals with special needs. Admission is $10.

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