Friday, February 17, 2006

The White Glove Test

A man gave our house the white glove test last week.

It was part of a study I'm participating in for a hospital. They pay me $300 to clean my house with my own products and then clean again with Clorox products. I'm not supposed to do anything unusual, just the normal routine.

Which is: Plan a party. Run around the house in a panicked frenzy wiping counters and scrubbing floors and stacking the closed off stairway with broken toys, crumpled paper, stained clothes and torn shoes. The boys follow me around dropping Cherrios and stepping on them and moving all their dinosaurs to the living room floor to avoid a flood happening outside and carrying full containers of water outside to make the flood and walking back in with the mud all over their shoes. My husband comes home and I tell him I am losing my mind. I repeat this two or three thousand times. He asks me what he can do. And I ask him to just be aware that I am losing my mind. Company comes. We laugh. We dine. They leave. I rest for three months. And repeat.

It's not that I have something against cleanliness. I'd do anything to have a clean house...except clean it.

I was under the impression that the white glove man was just testing the bathroom and kitchen, so I dumped Comet all over the place and wiped the rooms so clean you could taste it in the air. Bleghk. But when he got here, he said he'd take a dust sample from the boys' room and living room, and an air sample from the basement.

Hold the phone. Did he say the dungeon, I mean, basement? The only thing scarier than the state of that room would be if we kept live alligators down there. Which, for all I know, we do. There'd be plenty of room to hide.

"Our house--not all of it is clean," I explained delicately to the man, who hadn't stopped coughing since he walked in the door.

"I have three kids," he said. "You don't have to explain anything to me."

Really, I thought. Not the donut bag stuffed with clothes--a forgotten overnight bag--in my sons' room? Not the pile of trash in the corner of their room?(It's not what it looks like. It's a junk collection. Okay it is what it looks like.) Not the mushroom experiment growing in a plastic cup the basement? Or the dead hermit crab in the aquarium, for whom the wake has not yet progressed to a burial? (We're not ready to say goodbye to our beloved 56789.) Nothing?

After I got the poor man a glass of water and he finished explaining to my son what that thing with the long pole was, (Something called a mop? It sounds British,) he carried out the tests room by room and gave me a basket full of new cleaning supplies and a book that told how to use them.

We read the book this Wednesday during homeschool because, after seeing our house through a cleanliness expert's eyes, I was determined to learn how to clean. We started with the boys' room. First, we donated the junk collection to the Deffenbaugh Company. Then we captured the bad guy Superhero figures hiding under the bed--conspiring against our family, no doubt. Next we cleaned with Clorox wipes, Johnny paying attention to every surface and Richie cleaning off one shoe and calling it a day (He obviously takes after me.)

By the time we finished, it was lunch time. Then library time. Then reading time. Then dinner time. Then girls' happy hour. Then "Lost." Then bedtime.

One room down, six to go. Unfortunately, we were busy the rest of the week. Washing our hair and what not. But I did find something that will make this process a little easier. A cleaner that you just spray and leave there. No wiping. It literally eats your dust. Finally, a way to have a clean house without cleaning it. And I'm sure I could pay a neighbor kid, like five bucks, to spray that stuff all over our house.


Anonymous Jeanne said...

A woman after my own heart!

5:22 AM  
Anonymous pat brewster said...

Absolutely hilarious! I laughed all the way through! Move over Erma! I don't know if your cleaning ability came from me or your father. He sees no need to clean - ever - it will just get dirty again. We have to have a really long conversation before I can get him to help with cleaning day - that is -for him - dust mopping the floors, and vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms. For me - the dusting - I know , it might not sound fair, but you know my back! I loved the Dr when I asked,"Can I still vacuum?" He said "Do you want to?" I said "No". He said, "Then, no". He was an enabler to my block against cleaning. What a guy!

7:02 AM  

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