Cleaning is one of those things like running or word searches that other people seem to find simple and fun but I find impossible and demoralizing. Even when I try to clean, which is often, I still do a bad job and feel like I am just sort of smearing around house detritus and cat fur. My house, when it is clean, looks awkward and temporary in its cleanliness, like a five-year-old wearing a too-small blazer.
But yesterday, I did something I’ve never done before: I hired a cleaner, and asked if she was willing to come teach me what I am doing wrong. This was definitely a luxury for me, and I know it’s not an option for everyone, but it is the best $50 I’ve ever spent.
My head is now full of cleaning knowledge. For example! Did you know that Dawn dish soap in hot water beautifully cleans everything from laminate surfaces to hardwood floors? Did you know that the secret to getting cat hairs off things is first to wipe down with a wet, soapy rag and then dry with a dry rag? I should’ve, but I didn’t.
Karen was also wonderful enough to discuss her daily, weekly and seasonal chores, and made a great point about not feeling bad or embarrassed to call a cleaner: “A dirty house means nothing to me,” she said. “For me it’s work, so the dirtier the better.”
“We were discussing homosexuality because of an allusion to it in the book we were reading, and several boys made comments such as, “That’s disgusting.” We got into the debate and eventually a boy admitted that he was terrified/disgusted when he was once sharing a taxi and the other male passenger made a pass at him.The lightbulb went off. “Oh,” I said. “I get it. See, you are afraid, because for the first time in your life you have found yourself a victim of unwanted sexual advances by someone who has the physical ability to use force against you.” The boy nodded and shuddered visibly.“But,” I continued. “As a woman, you learn to live with that from the time you are fourteen, and it never stops. We live with that fear every day of our lives. Every man walking through the parking garage the same time you are is either just a harmless stranger or a potential rapist. Every time.”The girls in the room nodded, agreeing. The boys seemed genuinely shocked. “So think about that the next time you hit on a girl. Maybe, like you in the taxi, she doesn’t actually want you to.””—