Opinion: An appraisal of house cleaning


Mary Ellen was frantic. We were expecting a special guest, and I had never seen her so meticulous about tidying the house—not counting, of course, the days before Nettie, our housekeeper, comes.

Actually, Nettie had just been here to clean two days earlier. Mary Ellen originally wanted her to come just a few hours before our important visitor arrived, but the timing didn’t work out. So, when Nettie heard that our guest wasn’t due for almost 72 hours, she had a very fair question for Mary Ellen: “Is Dick going to a hotel for three days?”

Mary Ellen thought that was pretty funny, and the two of them had a good time trading stories about my messiness.

“How does he get so much toothpaste on his bathroom mirror?” Nettie asked.

“Or potato chips under his pillow?” asked Mary Ellen, doubled over in pain, laughing. “I bet you’ve never seen that before!”

“And silverware under the dresser?” added Nettie, almost in tears.

For the next three days, I was not allowed to cook anything or walk in the house with my shoes on. I could take showers, but I had to squeegee the glass doors each time. Oh, and by the way, I still had no idea who was coming. It was a secret.

“I feel like we are adopting a child and Social Services is coming to inspect us,” I said.

“I don’t have time to discuss this,” Mary Ellen responded. “I need to decide what kind of songs to play while Brad is here.”

She said to our Amazon Echo: “Alexa, play music to make the house look expensive.”

Aha! So it was Brad, our real estate agent. He was coming to determine how to market our home to sell it, and to give us a ballpark estimate of its value. The ballpark I’m talking about is probably more like a Little League field than Yankee Stadium.

“Now, when Brad arrives, do not to refer to downstairs as the basement or the cellar. Please call it our lower level,” Mary Ellen instructed. “And let’s get an appointment with an electrician. With the hall light switch, you have to push down to turn the lights on. Who would want to live in a house like that?”

Then Mary Ellen asked me to remove some of the awards I have received over the years from the walls of my office. “It makes you look a little self-congratulatory. Not the image we want to present.”

“But I’m pretty proud of those honors,” I reminded her.

“OK, you can keep a few up, but the one that says, ‘Class Clown, Class of ’65,’ needs to go.”

Brad assessed the house and made a few suggestions to improve its appeal. As he was leaving, he gazed out the bay window that overlooks a densely wooded area. Just a few yards from our house was an entire family of deer. Brad snapped a picture, knowing this would be a great selling point for wildlife lovers.

Mary Ellen grinned as Brad commented about the idyllic scene. Could my wife possibly have arranged that?

I knew she was good, but who knew she was that good?

Current Morning Briefing Logo

Stay CURRENT with our daily newsletter (M-F) and breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox for free!

Select list(s) to subscribe to

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Current Publishing, 30 S. Range Line Road, Carmel, IN, 46032, https://www.youarecurrent.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact