My father is possibly the worst housekeeper ever. If my father were a superhero, bad housekeeping woud be his super power. He seems to generate a chaos field that slowly shifts everything around him into disorder. He can take a brand new automobile and have it filled with old papers, decayed baseballs, broken umbrellas and other detritus inside of three days. Within a week, the cupholders and dash will be covered with a sticky residue that might’ve been either coffee, soda or jelly at one point in time.
My father’s bedroom has been off-limits to everyone for the whole of my 36 years. Mother insists the door to that room stay closed at all times. It’s like the mysterious locked door in the mysterious castle with the mysterious old man. “You may go everywhere in the castle, but you must never venture into this one room, on peril of your life!” Apparently, father’s chaos field has permanently warped the space-time continuum behind the dread portal. The old papers that seem to follow in my father’s wake whirl in the whipping winds of extra-dimensional vortices. Ancient tomes like harpies flap wildly around the room, diving to tear the flesh of unwelcome trespassers. Tortured, unpaired socks weap and gnash their gaping holes like the damned in Dante’s hell, warning those that walk the straight and narrow path between the door and the bed, “Stray not, lest ye fall!”
My father’s personal field of resonance also grants selective invisibility to dirt and disorder around him. Rather than entering his personal space, light reflecting off dust or grime in his path bends itself around him, disobeying the laws of physics rather than enlightening him to the existence of clutter. The things my father does see, he sees with a kind of super vision, the kind of super vision that sees “Potential Future Usefulness” in an item that is clearly trash to the rest of humanity. My family has a whole outbuilding devoted to these kinds of items. We tried to clean it out several times in the days of my relative youth. We’d cart piles of what we perceived to be useless junk to the roadside only to have my father cart half of it back citing its PFU. As far as I know, most of it is there still, lying in wait against the day when its potential value is revealed to the world.
Unfortunately, I am the son of my father. Fight my genetics as I may, I have inherited my father’s ability to create chaos out of even the most rigid order. I clean and organize and order, all to no avail. Stacks of letters, bills and other assorted papers slowly slip and slide into a jumbled mess and neatly folded clothes slowly unfold and crumple themselves into small piles on my floor and furniture. Shoes gradually migrate from the closet to the hallway and from the hallway to the den. Books find their way from the shelves to almost every flat surface that will have them. Dishes magically soil themselves and settle comfortably into the sink. Previously clean surfaces send out a siren call to dirt and grime and stickiness of all stripes. In my home, the Lords of Chaos rule.
Also unfortunately, cleaning seems to be a little far down on my list of priorities most days. Even when I have absolutely nothing else to do, I seem to come up with something more important than cleaning. Typically, this means going to Target to buy cleaning supplies.
Where I do not enjoy cleaning a great deal, I do enjoy buying cleaning supplies. Shopping for supplies is a wonderful delay tactic and it makes me feel that I’ve at least made some progress. It’s like stockpiling weapons for my fight against the Lords of Chaos. I tend to forget what supplies I already own, so I end up with multiples of any type of cleaner. I have three nearly full bottles of surface cleaner. I have two-and-a-half bottles of laundry detergent. I have several different kinds of glass cleaner, several bathroom cleaners, gobs of unused sponges, dusting wipes, disinfectant wipes, cleaning wipes, rust and lime remover, mildew and mold killer, bleaches, carpet cleaners, spot removers, stain removers and just about every other kind of cleaning product you might ever need. I figure if I have enough of the right weapons in my cleaning arsenal, I’ll eventually be able to overcome my own genetics. Most of it has been used once. So far it’s Genetics 1, Arsenal of Cleaners 0.
But I might’ve finally found an effective weapon in the fight against my own nature. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is amazing. You just wet it and go to town on soiled surfaces. Wipe out soap scum from the tub, obliterate scuff marks on the wall, destroy stains on the floor and annihilate unidentified ick on the counter. The Magic Eraser is all powerful. I loved using it so much that I scrubbed my bathroom from top to bottom and then went back to Target to buy more. I plan on scrubbing the kitchen next. After that I may search my home for other possible uses. It was that impressive.
In the end, it probably won’t make me any better of a housekeeper than I was previously. As far as I can tell, the Magic Eraser doesn’t fold laundry, much less put it where it belongs. But it does give me one more weapon in the war against my poor housekeeping heritage.