I like to imagine that I’ve really “evolved” and matured over the years. And then every once in a while, I realize there are some things that haven’t changed at all. The other day, I came across something I’d written years ago (back in prehistoric times when there was such a thing as video stores, and Dick Clark and Ed McMahon were still the big guns for Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes). Lo and behold, there I was in all my “will do anything to avoid this” glory:

The Time Had Come

I was afraid of what might happen, but I knew the time had come. What was my tip-off? Well, it could have been those little dust bunnies full of my three cats’ fur. Or the fact I could write on the surface of our coffee table and leave notes for my family. Maybe it was the caked food bits on the stove or the piles of unrecognizable papers in my office. Whatever the reason, it was here. The scary time, the awful time—the time when I must clean.

Why, you ask, is this such an agonizing thought?  I’m not sure—but I think it stems from a strange disorder. In this disorder, I feel terrified about starting to clean, because I truly hate to clean. Once having begun, however, I find it impossible to stop. In fact, this may be my greatest fear—that once I’ve started, there’s no end to cleaning—and by the time I think maybe it’s done, it’s already messed up again.

I’ve thought about various solutions to this problem—After all, didn’t Aunt Nellie simply throw plastic covers all over her 1950’s furniture from Macy’s? Maybe we could throw a plastic tarp over our entire house—once a month, we could simply lift it up, take it out to the back yard, and hose it down. Alas, I’m not sure that would work.

I’m sure if I just think hard enough, I can come up with other stuff that has to be done absolutely now, this minute. Where the heck are those sweepstakes I need to fill out?  I’ve really got to decide whether I want the gray car or the red car, and what time I want Dick and Ed to deliver the flowers to me. And wasn’t there that recipe I needed to cut out?  Oh, look at this—the last time, I organized my recipes was in 1992—I think I need to tackle that right now. And if I don’t get to the video store this minute, it will be too late to rent In and Out and see Kevin Kline being a straight gay man, and oh my gosh, will you look at the time? It’s almost time to start dinner.

Darned—I guess I just won’t be able to start cleaning after all.  Maybe if I just shove these dust balls under the bookcase a little further back.  You know, I should probably forget making dinner and just call Papa John’s.  Thinking about cleaning is so exhausting.

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