Monday, October 26, 2009
Cleanliness is next to Godliness
This week George got a bath at our local groomer, and after we got home, my husband petted him and told him he loves him more now that he’s clean. And sometimes I think he means it. If George has gone without a bath for a while, Lance doesn’t want George on the couch as much, and he doesn’t like to pet him as much. I, on the other hand, could care less what George smells like, and I’ll hug him and give him a kiss on the top of his head no matter what.
This difference of opinion regarding cleaning has caused some conflict during our relationship, because we have different definitions of clean. For me, things are usually clean enough, and I can go for weeks without noticing the dust ball in the corner, while Lance notices right away. I clean the things that matter and leave the deep cleaning for later.
I guess I wish I were a little more like him, but on the whole, I have better things to do than obsess about cleaning. A clean house isn’t going to get me ahead in the world. I’d rather finish my novel with piles of dirty laundry around me than take years to finish it in a spotless house. It’s all about priorities.
A family member of my husband’s was once referred to as a “good wife” because she was such a good housekeeper. I’m sorry, but I’d rather be remembered for my great deeds and great works of art than for my clean towels.
This feeling of mine can be attributed to two things: my Mom, and my travels to other countries. Mom’s family taught me that if you’re having a really good discussion at the table after dinner, the dishes can wait. If it’s a beautiful day outside and the green grass is calling, the laundry can wait. Or you can kill two birds with one stone and hang the laundry outside while enjoying the fresh air. Even better.
When I was in high school, my Spanish teacher planned a trip to Spain for her classes, and she said we didn’t need to pack shampoo because we would only be gone for two weeks. Being spanking-clean, shower obsessed Americans, my classmates were shocked. And while two weeks does seem to be a stretch, my experience of living in England sure put things into perspective. They didn’t shower every day, and they were still good looking and popular. Their socks didn’t match their shirts, and the world didn’t come to an end. I came away from my time there with the impression that Americans are a little neurotic in their clean-frenzy, with their prissy sanitizers and two-shower-a-day habit and huge hosed-down backyards.
I’d rather take a cue from other countries and lighten up. Take the plastic cover off the couch, pet the dog even if he’s dirty, skip the second shower, let the dishes sit for just a little while. What are your priorities?