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This story was recently published in Aj Michel's contributor-driven zine "Syndicate Product" (#15: Coming Clean!). If you would like a copy of "Syndicate Product" send $3 to: Aj Michel, PO Box 877, Lansdowne, PA 19050, USA or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: Thanks to Aj for the title of the story!
"Father Cleans Best"
My father has some serious cleaning issues.
As far back as I can remember, my father would wake up every Saturday morning around 7 am and spend 4 or 5 hours cleaning the entire house from top to bottom. He´ll be the first to admit that he´s
extremely anal retentive. He´s comfortable with it. He´s good with the mop. He´s
a pro with the vacuum cleaner. And he´s a mad genius (and quite entertaining)
with the dust rag. The dusting ritual was always accompanied by my father
dropping the needle on one of his old Motown records: Diana Ross & the
Supremes, Martha & the Vandellas, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Gladys
Knight & the Pips... He never listened to music during the week, but come
Saturday morning he´d listen to 5 or 6 albums in a row. It was like he was
storing up for the rest of the week.
As you can imagine, my father´s house cleaning obsession destroyed any chance I had of sleeping in on Saturday mornings during my childhood. He would kick open my bedroom door around 8:30
and enter with the vacuum cleaner blasting. He´d pull the sheets off the bed
(all the sheets got washed on Saturday) with me still wrapped in them. He´d
start scooping up all the clothes strewn across the floor and deposit them in
the clothes hamper. As a teenager this was the only real motivation for me to
climb out of bed – to retrieve all my clothes which, to my mind, were perfectly
good to go for at least another week.
As I would attempt to eat breakfast my father would come sliding into the kitchen across the freshly polished hardwood floor (with a dust rag in one hand & a can of Lemon Scented Pledge in the other) screaming,
“Baby Love! My Baby Love!!!” My mother
would shout, “Get the hell out of here! I knew I should´ve married Harold!” (Harold
was a guy my mother went on a blind date with once in high school, but that´s
another story altogether…) Please take notice of the fact that my mother was in
the kitchen. You see, my father truly enjoys cleaning, but the kitchen &
the bathroom… never. While my father may be a fairly liberated guy who doesn´t
see any problem with splitting the housework 50/50, the kitchen & the bathroom still exist in
that part of his mind labelled “women´s work”.
With all the house cleaning finished by Saturday afternoon my father could then spend his Sunday mornings playing golf. But the second he returned home after playing 18 holes he´d fill a bucket with
hot, soapy water & wash his golf clubs. And after his clubs were sparkling,
he´d vacuum out the car.
I moved away from home over 10 years ago. A few months back while talking to my mother on Skype I asked, “Where´s dad?” She said he was outside cleaning
his golf clubs. “He´ll be here in a minute. You know how he gets when he´s
cleaning.” She then proceeded to tell me that he hadn´t been playing his Motown
records lately because he needed a new needle. He didn´t need a new needle
because the old one was worn out, but because he got too close to the turntable
with the vacuum cleaner and the old needle got sucked into the machine! That´s
one of the hazards of being hopelessly anal retentive I suppose!