Therefore, when the editor guy at Mother Jones told me they wanted to send a cleaning consultant with a doctorate in history (his thesis was on 17th-century Dutch household-management techniques) to my house, the proper warning bells and whistles did not go off in my head.
I knew less then than I know now. Last Thursday this overly educated UC Berkeley poster child showed up at my door. After what seemed like a normal greeting, he put on knee pads and a face mask. In fairness, he’d never been to my house before and didn’t know what to expect.
I was hoping he would do something like Samantha on “Bewitched” with a quick wiggle of his nose. But he was never gonna actually clean. He was gonna consult. At best he might have watched me clean and said, “You missed a spot. There was a time in Holland when that sort of thing wouldn’t have been tolerated, you know.”
If I could get my house clean, I think I could make some headway on the problems of the world. So everyone suffered when he told me my house wasn’t the kind of house he could do much with. He asked if we had a lot of friends over, and I said, “I don’t have friends,” and he said, “Good, they bring in germs.” My social life would have been the envy of 17th-century Holland.
This guy normally makes $100 an hour. But thanks to Mother Jones, without spending a dime I learned that each time a toilet flushes without the lid down a fine mist of fecal matter lands on everything in the bathroom. I try not to use the bathroom anymore, and I certainly don’t brush my teeth. I don’t know how well-informed people sleep at night.
I used to think that, while politics and issues of the world were beyond my control, I could reign supreme over the kitchen counters. It was all I had. The cleaning consultant took that away. He informed me, while steadfastly not lifting a finger so as not to be thrown out of the Consultants’ Club, that sponges and dishcloths are germ factories. Wiping with a sponge or dishcloth only spreads the germs breeding within it.
I, of course, sponge and wipe almost constantly. I can’t tell you how depressing a talk like this can be for me. It’s like when I found out Dentyne didn’t really prevent cavities.
He said you could clean your sponge in the dishwasher. I don’t even wash dishes in the dishwasher. I use it to store to-go menus and warranties for electronic equipment. I wash dishes in the sink with warm water, soap, and a germ factory with flowers on it.
He told me I could use bleach on the counters, but that rinsing afterwards was even more important than cleaning because, of course, bleach is poison. I’ve been walking around in a daze ever since, trying to figure out how I rinse the bleach off without using a cloth with no bleach on it, which would, of course, have germs, because it didn’t have bleach, unless it’s been in the dishwasher, which would totally soak the to-go menus and electronic equipment warranties.
By the time the cleaning consultant put his knee pads and face mask back into his briefcase and left, I was spent and hopeless. I can’t believe he gets $100 an hour. My shrink doesn’t make me feel this bad, and she only gets $90 an hour.
Is there nowhere to hide? I might as well just watch the news.
I’m sure Cinderella doesn’t know she has been merrily spreading germs around the palace all of this time. I would really like to be the one to tell her, though. God, I hate her.