Patsy Porco

People Can Change … But Not Always For the Better

In Humor on November 15, 2015 at 2:49 am

I used to be an excessively, compulsively clean person. All of my clothes were worn once, and then washed, dried, and ironed. My apartments were always impeccable: the windows gleamed with cleanliness; the carpets were vacuumed and hand-raked; the furniture was dusted; everything was in its place. Dirt was not welcome in my home.

Back when I was single, I ran into a guy I briefly dated and he said that I had pulled out my vacuum cleaner when he dropped a crumb on my carpet. I didn’t remember doing this, but it didn’t seem out of character. I do remember, in my husband’s and my first house, having my childhood friend visit and I vacuumed the rug immediately after we ate. She turned to my son and asked if he had inherited this idiosyncrasy. He assured her that he had not. I vouched for that.

Despite the comments, I didn’t fret about my compulsion. I was a neat-freak, and that was that. My fastidiousness earned the respect of my mother-in-law. She told anyone and everyone that her daughter-in-law kept a very clean house. That was a great compliment coming from her; her house glistens.

Then, one day, I changed. Drastically. I suspect that it was when we moved from a five-room, one-story house into a house with two floors and a finished basement. For awhile, we had a housecleaner, so appearances were kept up. Then, in an effort to tighten the family belt, I decided that we would all clean the house instead of paying a person to do it. I don’t remember if we ever actually did clean the house together. We certainly don’t now. Rooms get cleaned when it’s obvious that they should be either tidied up or burned down.

Then one day, I found myself smelling the socks I had worn the day before to determine if I could get another day out of them. This soon led to sniffing tops and jeans. I did draw the line at underwear; that line was drawn in the dust on the floor.

Recently, my mother-in-law visited our home and pulled my son aside. “This house is clean,” she whispered. “Who cleaned it?” Knowing that she would not approve of our hiring a housecleaner, despite my working full time, he said that he did. By this point, I had fallen so low in her estimation that she was willing to believe him. “Good,” she said. “Someone has to.”

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

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