Sunday, February 27, 2011

Becoming a maid man

“That’s it, I’m calling a maid service,” my wife Kara threatened as she surveyed the wreckage where our living room probably was. I couldn’t be exactly sure which room we were standing in, since most of our home’s distinguishing characteristics were obscured by colorful plastic objects that sing cheerfully when you stub your toe on them.

“Go ahead and call them,” I said, “But then we’ll have to cut back on our chauffeur’s annual bonus.”

We have this discussion every couple of weeks, ever since our friends recommended a maid service that they’d hired to clean their house before a party. We hired the same service last summer, before our son Evan’s first birthday party, and the experience changed Kara forever.

“You mean, we can abdicate our responsibilities as adults and just pay someone else to clean up the messes we make? This is awesome!” she thought, or something like that.

I think my basic problem with the whole idea (besides the cost, which is my actual problem) is that it seems like a confession that we can’t handle things on our own. When you grow up, you have three basic responsibilities: overpay for cable; remember yourself as a much more attractive twenty-something than you actually were; and if you can’t find any decent YouTube clips to watch, clean up after yourself.

Now every so often, when I’m getting a little too comfortable exercising my self-given right to live happily in squalor, Kara will bring up the maid service, knowing that she’s pitting my sloth against my stinginess. Nobody wants to pay for the privilege of leaving their empty yogurt cups on the couch; living in filth is only fun if you can do it for free.

Of course, even if we did hire the service again, we’d have to clean the house before the maids came over anyway, like the bi-annual flossing you do before going to the dentist.

“We just need someone to give the place a good scrub down,” Kara said. “They do a better job than we do, and they dust everything, too.”

“That’s ridiculous. We do a fine job, and dusting is a chore for people who have officially run out of things to do,” I said, blowing across the top of the credenza to make my point. The resulting dust cloud shut down local air traffic for the afternoon.

Keeping the place tidy would at least be conceivable if we didn’t have a dog and a toddler for housemates.

Last week, Evan sat in his high chair, catapulting applesauce across the kitchen while saying, “Nono, nono! Nono!”

“Where did you get ‘nono’ from, buddy?” I asked. Has there ever been a toddler who learned to say “yes” first?

Just then, our dog Memphis began doing her heaving dance, the one she performs shortly before barfing on the most expensive piece of carpet she can find.

“No no no no no no!” I yelled, throwing the sliding glass door open and pushing the dog out into the snow, but it was too late. Perhaps it should have served as some small consolation that the Mystery of the Missing Crayon was solved at the exact moment that the dog barfed cadet blue on my foot. Or maybe it was periwinkle.

“Nono,” Evan said, smiling.

It’s a wonder Memphis still hangs out with me. If someone threw me into the freezing cold while I was heaving and retching, I’d have a hard time snuggling up to them later. But she trotted back inside without a care and went straight to the spot on the counter where we keep her treats.

When I held out a biscuit, she looked at up me as if to ask, “Got anything in a burnt umber?”

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  1. I need to find a way to forbid Jaime from reading this one, seriously... she might start to think that "lack of cleaning instincts" is genetic. Ohhh... maybe that's good! I WAS born this way (with a complete inability to pick up strewn-about yogurt cups)! xo

  2. I can just picture the whole scene with the housekeeping negotiations, Evan tossing applesauce across the floor ("nono nono") and Memphis puking up a crayon! Too funny!

  3. Ames -- That's right! It's completely out of our control. Also, it's possible we weren't raised correctly. We'll have to ask Mom and Dad about that.

    Anon -- Thanks!

  4. I heard that your mom had to RAKE your bedroom occasionally just to make a pathway through! Any truth to this rumor?

  5. Props for the 'burnt umber". Nicely done.