My husband is a pig. I’m anal. It’s a happy marriage, but for these two facts. I can’t sit in a room if there’s a pair of socks on the floor. My husband can’t sit in a room without leaving his socks on the floor. It’s why we often watch TV in two separate rooms.
It’s also why I clean constantly. I am always picking up, putting away and straightening. It doesn’t bother me to clean — it actually calms me — but it seems to have the opposite effect on everyone else. People get touchy just because I might occasionally put a glass away that’s still being used. And okay, there’ve been a handful of times I’ve thrown away something important. So I clean around folks while they’re watching TV or reading the paper — sue me.
I’ve tried to be one of those relaxed women who have an inviting and creative home. My friend Karen’s kitchen is full of life: kid’s artwork on the walls, papers lying around, and coats crammed in a cubby by the door. She even has a toy Fonzie doll hanging from the kitchen chandelier. I’m not sure why, but I know there’s got to be good fun behind it.
When Karen comes to my house, she peeks in my living room and says, “Wow, does anyone actually live here?” Other people have said similar things – “Your house is always so clean.” I can hear it in their voices; it’s not a compliment. Sometimes it’s code for “Lady, get a life.” This I know.
Once in a while, I’ve left my husband’s socks in the middle of the floor and waited to see how long before he picks them up. The longer they sit, the more nervous I get. I’ve made subtle hints – taking an exaggerated path around them when I enter the room, gently nudging them out of my way. Inevitably, I’ll just pick them up, and my swine-of-a spouse has no idea there was even a heated sock stand-off. But I figure, either the socks go or he goes – and other than his piggish tendencies, I’ll take him.
No one leaves their dirty socks in my garden, however, which is good because its early spring and the place is a mess. Dead leaves are strangling dried stems. Weeds are staking claim. I see winter’s leftovers and they’re like the socks on the living room floor. I am itching to clean.
Yesterday we finally had warm weather, and I was able to sit in the garden with the sun on my back, hooked up to my iPod in total bliss. There’s nothing like spring in the garden to indulge my inner-Felix. No one hassles me. No one says snide things about being “so clean.”
Outside, my efforts are appreciated. My sedum greet me with their pointy smiling heads. My spirea enjoy getting a haircut. My lady’s mantle stretch out lazily in the sun, happy to be stripped of their winter blanket.
These days, it takes more effort to clean the garden than my house, so I let the house slide. My family revels in their dirty sock pile on the floor. I’m happy for the break, too. After rolling around in the mud for a while, I get to feeling like a pig myself. And guess what? I like it.