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Around the House: The Clean Routine

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I also like the inference that you don’t have to clean the rest of the year. But there’s the rub: “Spring cleaning” is a misnomer. We clean year round, which to me, takes much of the meaning out of “spring cleaning.”

I’m not a cleaner. Cleanliness might be next to Godliness, but for me it might as well be next to Amelia Earhart, because I have yet to find it.

Meanwhile, compared to me, my wife, Stacy, looks like a clean freak. Of course, next to me, Bluto from “Animal House” looks like a neatnik. Regardless, Stacy does in fact like a clean house — so much so that she will spray bleach on the shower floor and scrub it with her feet as she washes her hair. Not only does the shower floor get clean, but now Stacy has egg-smooth skin on the bottom of her feet.

We have our skeletons, cleaningwise. But because we try to maintain relatively uncluttered closets, we keep the skeletons in the garage. That’s not the only thing we keep in our garage.

The garage accommodates 10 years of accumulated junk, a few bona fide HGTV-quality furniture finds, many hopelessly broken toys, sporting equipment that makes my joints hurt just to look at, lots of underemployed yard equipment — and not a single car.

It’s the “Mona Lisa” of ugly. It looks like a natural disaster area, if the natural disaster happened at Fred Sanford’s house. It looks like the after picture in a search-warrant-training manual.

I used to take such pride in getting our cars in the garage. I scoffed at neighbors scraping their windshields on frosty winter mornings. Now we couldn’t get one in the garage if the car were a Shrinky Dink, and two cars in the garage is as likely as two qualified and honest candidates for president.

We’ve grown so accustomed to the clutter that we even keep the garage door wide open when we’re out working in the yard. There’s something incongruous about making the yard and house presentable while our family junk hangs out our open garage door. It’s like standing in the front yard in ratty underwear, fixing your hair. I fully expect our neighborhood architectural-review committee — called the yard police by lawn-challenged Libertarians, but not within earshot — to request that we either clean up the space or have the garage door welded shut.

But cognitive dissonance be damned, Stacy continues to insist that the house proper be clean. She came up with a great way to force us to clean every week by volunteering to host a Bible study every Monday. So every Sunday — the day of rest, I have reminded her — you can find us dusting, vacuuming, forcing the kids to clean their rooms and on and on, until the house is spotless and hairless (cats, you know).

Finally, after endless minutes of cleaning on Sunday night, we are ready for the Monday morning Bible study participants who, I have pointed out, aren’t supposed to be judging us anyway, so why do we have to clean?

On the bright side, I think I’ve figured out where that whole “cleanliness is next to Godliness” thing got started. And … it may be possible … that Ms. Earhart is somewhere in the garage.

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