Quick! Hide the Toilet Brush
Guests bring out our frenzied cleaning skills.
By Hillary Ibarra
We clean our homes differently for strangers.
When a loved one stops by suddenly — seeing the clean clothes hamper strewn about the living room and dishes piled in the sink — we smile sheepishly as if to say, “You still love me, right?”
But we care what strangers think! They don’t know our housekeeping skills can’t compare to our many other great assets. There’s no bond of blood or friendship. Our quirky sense of humor and baked goods won’t distract from the vomit stain on the carpet, and they might not forgive us for exposure to that mystery smell. It’s certainly not easy to explain the empty booze bottles we’ve been meaning to take to the recycling bin.
I was reminded of this when I volunteered to host a dinner for my daughter’s sports team.
As I attempted to make my home the showplace it wasn’t, I contemplated all the extra stuff we do for strangers.
For instance, the dysfunctional microwave that serves as an “upcycled” stand for our functional one? I hid it in the garage. The piles of paperwork mess? I hid those, too. Other people, I suspect, have house elves in crawl spaces who sort through bills, junk mail and schoolwork for them.
I even eyed my toilet bowl brush as I scrubbed the guest bathroom, wondering if I should hide it as well. Had I ever seen this vulgar contraption in a home decorating magazine? Do the homes in those articles even have such things, or does the maid bring it with him/her when they come? What happens if there’s an emergency due to a stomach virus or a bad batch of Carne Adovada? “Quick, call our cleaning service, honey — and tell them to bring that magic toilet wand thingy!”
After my harried cleaning and decluttering, our house smelled and looked so immaculate that I wondered if I’d forgotten to put a “For Sale” sign out front.
Marveling at my great achievement, I snapped a picture — the proof I needed. My loved ones would never believe me!