Chapter 7 - A Reason to Clean
I was jolted awake by the ringing of the telephone. I had unfortunately placed it next to my pillow. I lay down for a short re-date nap for what I thought was just a few minutes.
“Hello.” I groaned into the receiver.
“Hi!” jumped a voice from the earpiece. “It’s me, Rick. I’m sorry that I’m late. I’ll be there in about an hour. I hope that you’re not upset with me. Bye.”
Upset? Huh? Whatever. I shrugged and fell back onto the pillows. Just as I was about to doze off again a thought entered my mind. Oh my God! Rick! What time was it? I frantically groped for the clock. Where the hell was it? I found it on the nightstand, exactly where I had left it, under a half-slip, a pair of panty hose and a plastic bag from the dry cleaners. It was seven o’clock. I had until eight.
I rubbed my eyes and took a panoramic glance at the devastation that I called home. To me, my house exuded comfort. To anyone else, who had even the weakest grasp on reality, it looked like the aftermath of a natural disaster. What is clean anyway? It’s all semantics.
Time management skills were essential in order to pull off an often practiced, pre-date ritual. I had just one hour to clean the entire house in addition to the vast cornucopia of other pre-date activities that included showering, outfit selection, dressing and practicing a winning smile while saying “Hello” into the mirror. It would be difficult, but not impossible. I planned to shower and dress last, to insure the minimal post-apparel application hazards including stains, wrinkling and perspiration.
The living room, Oh God! When had I granted permission to do nuclear testing in this room? As I stood there looking for someone to blame, I realized that drastic times, such as this one, called for drastic measures. There wasn’t enough time to sort through the junk that currently hid my furniture. Items that, in the past, may have been considered somewhat important or valuable would now, temporarily, be considered trash. Using a paper bag and a well-practiced forearm sweeping motion over all flat surfaces, I cleared jewelry, and lose change along with fast food containers, magazines, and newspapers. Then I opened the door to the hall closet, took aim and skillfully flung the bag into the corner, next to other bags from dates gone by.
The kitchen would be next. Various dishes, glassware, and other food stained kitchenware were stacked in and around the sink. I was faced with a well- known kitchen dilemma. The dishwasher was filled with clean dishes. he time factor needed to be considered. There wasn’t enough time to unload the clean dishes from the machine, yet I didn’t have the inclination to hand wash the dirty ones. The solution was obvious. I simply loaded the dirty dishes into the machine with the clean ones and ran the wash cycle again.
When it comes to straightening up, I have always found the bedroom closet to be the single most valuable space in my entire house. When time is of the essence and the bedroom is in shambles, simply and effectively remove all displaced items from the room by incorporating the technique of grabbing and hurling them into the closet. Shoes, socks, and other end-up-on-the-floor paraphernalia can be effortlessly placed under the bed by using a kicking-scooting motion.
Let’s face it, the bed and its preparation prior to a date could tell a man some or possibly too much about his date. Rumpled, devil-may-care bed prep or fresh sheets with tight hospital corners? The million dollar question. Should I ask the audience?Should I call a friend? I was extremely attracted to Rick and was hoping that he would spend the night. If I chose crisp fresh sheets, would I appear uptight? But, if I chose to bypass the fresh sheet option and we ended up there, would Rick think I was a slob? I’d be embarrassed. So, I rationalized my predicament. I chose a happy medium. I changed the sheets and folded the bedspread down. The motivating factors behind my fresh sheet decision were my mother’s rules of entertaining: a tidy home and always have something on hand to serve to an unexpected guest. Although, I doubt that my mother considered that her rules would be applied to her daughter’s sex life, they seemed appropriate in this case.
By 7:59 PM the house was clean, the scent of pine was in the air and the latch on the closet door was struggling to keep itself closed. I had had just enough time to get myself ready. I took a final look around. I was pleased with myself.
The phone rang. It was Rick. “Would it be out of the question to ask you to meet me at the restaurant? I’m afraid that by the time I drove to your house to pick you up, half of the evening would be gone.” He continued, “Besides, I have to get up early tomorrow morning and this way, I can head straight home after we eat dinner.”
As I opened the door to leave, I glanced around, shrugged my shoulders and kicked over the trash can.