Monday, January 26, 2015

Room at the mop

My son, Zack, backed away in fear.  He’d never seen anything like it before.

“What’s that?” he asked, peering around the couch, staring wide-eyed at the strange device I’d just unearthed from the deepest bowels of our home. 

“This, my son,” I told him, wielding the staff like a middle-aged mutant ninja turtle, “is a mop.”

Silence.  I could just as well have told him that it was a banjo.  “What’s that?” he asked again.

“You clean floors with it.  Well, not YOU, but me.  Actually, someday you.  But we can build up to that.  For now, just concentrate on not wiping your nose on our couch pillows,” I said.  

He sized me up for a moment, saw that the mop had no electrical cord that might indicate the imminence of scary noises, and went back to ignoring me, in favor of Captain Hook.  Netflix only has two seasons of “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” available to stream, but Zack has watched them enough times that, even though he was only partway through season two, he was really on season sixty-four.

“Blasted barnacles!” Captain Hook yelled, again.  Zack crawled back to his spot on the couch, wiping his nose on the pillow as he went.

“Avast, ye swabs!” I replied, squeezing the warm water into the bucket and taking a first swipe at the floor, enjoying the fresh scent of a pine forest cloaked in a morning fog, a fog made of chemicals that didn’t quite smell like a pine forest.   

Would I have done this for free?  No way.  Mopping isn’t something I usually get too jazzed about, but last weekend, I was getting paid good money to mop my own floors.

How did I land such a sweet gig?  It started several years ago, when our friends had an engagement party at their house.

“Place looks great!” we said.

“We had a cleaning lady come help.  Her name’s Carmen.  You should call her sometime,” they replied.

And thus began our complicated relationship with Carmen.  She’s been over a few times over the years, usually before a get-together at our house.  She charges reasonably and does a great job, but I can’t shake the mental image of a vacuum cleaner reaching into our bank account and applying powerful sucking action every time she visits.

I can stomach having some help before an event at which we are likely to be judged by our ability to not have dog fur on our kitchen counters, but my wife Kara wants more.  She’d like Carmen to come over every two weeks, while I’d like to have her visit our house with the same frequency as Santa.
“The house is a mess.  I’m going to call Carmen,” Kara will say, periodically, the implication being that if I want to continue living in squalor (which I do), it’s going to cost us.

Having someone clean up after you sounds awesome, in theory, like you can treat your house the same way Axl Rose treated hotel rooms in the 80s.  But you have to clean up before they come over anyway, which defeats the whole purpose.  Not very rock n’ roll at all.

So I fend off Carmen the best way I know how, and my weapon of choice is a mop.  I’d hate mopping if I had to do it for free, but since I’m getting paid by not having to pay someone else, the sheen across the floor takes on the aroma of fake pine chemicals and dollar bills.

For other husbands in a similar situation, I hope this has been an inspirational tale.  With just a little hard work, you too can train your wife to let you mop the floor.        

You can trash a hotel room with Mike Todd at

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