Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Professional Help

Last weekend, while friends in other cities were participating in their local Pride celebrations, I was being domestic. JB has his sister and her family coming to visit this weekend, and since he was in Venice, Italy (drinking wine, eating the best pizza he ever had in his life, you know, working) it fell on me to tackle some household chores.

Gilbert and staff.
For years my buddy Gilbert has been offering to give me the number of his cleaning service. I listen with fascination to him describe how his team of maids files into his condo, each carrying her own weight in cleaning equipment and supplies. As the queen maid immediately begins barking orders in spanish, the worker maids obediently divide and conquer in an frenzy of dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing and polishing. Twenty minutes later the squad is filing out, leaving his home magically transformed with nary a dust mote or orphan pube in sight.

Aside from making the interaction sound eerily entomological (ironic from a man with a debilitating ant phobia) I do admit being enamored by the luxury of it all. But while I'm a huge believer in playing to my strengths by throwing money at my weaknesses, the idea of hiring a cleaning service still strikes me as a little too self-indulgent. This coming from someone who adores indulging himself.

The other day I read an article about Mrs. Beeton's classic Book of Household Management. Written over 150 years ago, whole chapters are devoted to the hiring and firing of servants. I checked to see if it could teach me how to do laundry, but all I learned was how to hire a Laundry Maid. Too bad too, a Laundry Maid would have known better than to wash the white bathmat with the maroon shower curtain.

I'm going with "I meant to do that."
I returned to Mrs. Beeton's book to see if I can fix my mistake. But instead of bleeding colors, all I could find was how to treat apoplexy by bleeding from the arm with leeches. I don't even know what apoplexy is, but if I catch it I'm sure as hell not going near any leeches.

My mother raised four kids without the help of a single servant. Relying solely on the training provided by Catholic nuns teaching Home Economics, her household management strategy was to escape into a stack romance novels with a carton of macaroons and a thermos of "apoplexy medicine". Eventually, hunger motivated me to learn how to make my own damn Kraft mac & cheese. I caught on that keeping my own room tidy was preferable to stitches and tetanus shots. And simple schoolyard peer-pressure encouraged me to maintain my own hygiene and wash my own clothes.

So I wore a lot of pink growing up. Mom raised us to be self-sufficient, and I like to think that was her strategy all along.

What's next? Hiring sumo wresters to test my home against the danger of furniture collapse?
I'm sorry, but I'm completely capable of taking care of that on my own, thank you.

1 comment:

  1. I will give up my cable before I cut out my cleaning service.