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There is nothing I like better to read than plans, tips, and strategies for keeping the house clean and orderly. A large household in a relatively small living space quickly degenerates into chaos and disorder without constant vigilance and persistent rectification of why is this sticky. Can I not just once in my life sit down without getting all sticky.
So that’s why I like to sit there with my feet up, reading about how to clean.
I especially like the schedules that tell you exactly what to do, how often. You’ve seen these: mop up spills immediately, tidy living areas daily, deep-clean bathrooms weekly, scrub baseboards monthly, douse upholstery with kerosene, strike a match, and delight in the glorious inferno of the final answer to domesticity quarterly. I mean, “never.” Never even think of that. What is the matter with you?
The one thing I haven’t found anywhere is a guide for what kind of cleaning to do depending on what kind of guest you’re expecting. It does make a difference, n’est-ce pas, you animal? From my Tohu wa-bohu to yours:
Female guests age 11 and up: Scrub shower curtain, because women are insane and are going to judge you on your shower curtain, even if they aren’t taking a shower. Decades from now, the master of ceremonies at your funeral is going to ask, “Does anyone have a memory to share of our extraordinary friend Simcha, who lived to be 106 years old, won the Nobel Peace Prize twice, and figured out how to desalinate ocean water with a simple wooden spool and a paper clip?” and that woman who stopped by to pick up a free typewriter you listed on Craigslist, and who asked if she could use your bathroom, will stand up and she will say, “Her shower curtain had mildew.”
Did you know you can just put the whole shower curtain in the washing machine? Don’t actually run the machine with a shower curtain in it, stupid; you’ll tear it to shreds. I’m just saying, you can put it in there.
Nice French Canadian ladies named Enid and Célestin who are bringing over a casserole because you just had a baby: Just have the baby waiting by the door. They are there for the baby, and the casserole is their ticket inside. If you want to make them extra happy, hang up some gooey picture of Our Lady of Maybelline. Note: Do not let them leave with the baby. Check their bags. Nice try, Célestin.
Any kids age 7 and under; and boys age 12 and under: Just clear a pathway, practice those breathing exercises for when they start tracking unspeakable things through the hallway, and make sure at least one toilet works and/or you know where the shovel is.
Priest in the house: Buy extra beer and extra meat, and crate the dog. Other than that, do nothing. He really needs to know what goes on.
Husband’s work friend: Meet him in the driveway and shunt him directly into the backyard where the beer is. He definitely doesn’t need to know what goes on.
College friends who always thought you were fairly dim, because you fairly were: Upgrade bathroom reading material. Aim for Lexile score of 1400 or higher. National Geographic is acceptable, as long as it’s not too wet and nobody has written “ha ha boobie” on the African parts. If you went liberal arts, poetry anthologies are a solid choice. No Magic Tree House or Animorphs. They wouldn’t understand.
Anybody: No NFP charts on the fridge. Come on. And yes, everybody knows what “I” or “*” or “:)” or “ha cha cha” notations mean, especially if they’re clustered around the end of the month. No visible cups of pee, even if there is a good and holy reason for having cups of pee hanging around. No boxes of test strips that say “HELPS YOU GET SUPER EXTRA PREGNANT MUCH MUCH FASTER!” Even people who love you, love your kids, and are totally on board with the whole “culture of life” thing are going to stand there, transfixed, their eyes darting back and forth between the forty-six toothbrushes you somehow have, and the toilet paper you’re forced to buy in bulk sizes that would shame an army barracks, and those words “PREGNANT FASTER,” and they’re going to think, “I need to leave before these people try to hide a spare baby in my purse.”
Hey, come on back. There’s plenty of beer in the back yard.