If Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, the Angels Have Nothing to Fear from Me

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If Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, the Angels Have Nothing to Fear from Me

There is a sign hanging at eye level at my front door that reads; “A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.”

When I die, I may be accused of having done a lot of things, but misspending my life will not be one of them.

It’s not that I have anything against cleanliness or neatness. I am, in fact, a big fan of the philosophy that advises “A place for everything and everything in its place.” I might even try to put that into practice, if only I had that many places.

When it comes to actual house cleaning, however, I stumble over two major difficulties: One, I can always think of something to do that I much prefer over dusting or vacuuming (sleeping, for instance) and two, once you start housework, there seems to be no end.

Consider, for instance, the potentially daily chore of making one’s bed. This is, in my considered opinion, a ridiculous waste of time. Think about it. What are you accomplishing here that might be of any lasting benefit? If you do make up your bed, the very next exchange between you and the bed is that, presumably, some time later in the evening, you are going to un-make it and slide your body into it. Now, I ask you, is this an efficient use of time? You’re doing a thing purely so that you can undo it later? I mean, you could be spending the time required for making the bed actually lying in the bed – which to my mind is a considerably better idea. (I believe I mentioned earlier my fondness for sleeping.)

Now, without even trying very hard, I can hear some of you arguing with me that a made-up bed looks neater, and I won’t argue back that you’re mistaken. I will, however, ask you, to whom does it look neater? Nobody has any business in the bedroom except whoever’s going to sleep there, and that person presumably knows what the bed looks like under the covers. So what have you gained?

One other point that just begs to be made is this one: If there are various other people traipsing through your sleeping quarters, and making note of whether or not your bed is neatly made up, I suspect that the quality of your housekeeping may be the least of your difficulties. The potential for trouble of one kind or another seems to grow exponentially with the number of individuals occupying one bedroom for any length of time.

Let us move on to a lighter subject – that of dust. Dusting is one more chore that I find unnecessary, not to mention futile. Where do you think that dust goes when you wipe it off the piano? On the floor, that’s where. So then you vacuum, which stirs it up again, so it can resettle on the piano. And so then you dust the piano again, disturbing the dust so that it flitters to the floor, which requires you to re-vacuum, and…See my point?

If you consider dust unsightly, there is a simple solution. You have only to buy some of those nice low-wattage, soft-white light bulbs. Then, instead of blinding brightness, all your lamps can cast a nice hazy glow over everything (which resembles dust, anyhow), and your dust will fade from view at the flick of a switch.

I’m not on intimate terms with my vacuum cleaner, either. This may be largely due to a personal problem, however. Without my contact lenses, I am as blind as the bottom side of a flounder, so I frequently fail to see the need for vacuuming. With 20/200 vision, not only is the dirt invisible, but the carpet as well. This is sort of one of those “when God closes a door, He opens a window” sort of things. Who knew there was going to be such a valuable upside to poor vision?

And speaking of windows, here’s a word or two about them. Window shades, blinds, curtains and draperies are called window coverings. If you use those items as that term indicates they should be, and keep your windows covered, how can they get dirty? And if they do, who can tell – as long as the shades are down? Which is easier – pulling a shade or wearing out 17 paper towels with Windex (not to mention your arm)?

Mopping floors is pretty near the top of my list of disgusting activities. Frequent visitors to my home will not be surprised by this admission, as a few formerly close friends have been known to mention something about feet sticking to the floor, and one brave soul offered to buy me a mop. I offered to loan him a pair of socks.

I will confess that, periodically, even I can see – or more accurately, feel – the need to improve the state of my kitchen floor, but I do not mop it. I do not even own a mop. I have never in my life seen a mop, string or sponge, that ever approached being clean after the moment of its first use. String mops are generally found either in a bucket of thick gray water, presumably soaking, or standing, head-up, in some out-of-the way corner, with their cotton strands grayer than the head of any middle-aged woman who’s missed her last salon appointment. For sponge mops, the idea of the cheery bright yellow they once were is a very dim memory; once used, their hue more closely approximates expired mustard.

So what do I do with my kitchen floor? Well; you know that lovely little sprayer nozzle at your kitchen sink? It takes nearly no practice at all to aim that little gizmo all around the kitchen, neatly hitting the previously-applied streams of dishwashing liquid, effortlessly creating just the right amount of suds. Then I can toss down a raggedy and retired bath towel on to the floor and skate myself around the kitchen, not only cleaning my floor but getting a little exercise at the same time.

It’s worth more than a casual mention, particularly given the current economic climate, that adopting a laissez-faire attitude toward housekeeping not only frees up large quantities of time for other more pleasurable activities, it also results in quite a bit of money-saving. Dusting paraphernalia, vacuum bags, window cleaners, floor preparations, along with paper towels and the afore-mentioned costly mops, have been pretty effectively deleted from my shopping list. I am also immune to the temptation to purchase expensive household appliances designed to keep one’s environment sterile. Why buy a Dust Buster if you rarely use the vacuum? To make the vacuum less lonely by making it think that it’s acquired offspring? Perish the thought.

It should be fairly clear by now that I’ll never have to worry about being disturbed by those kind folks who give out the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. In fact, it occurs to me that the only seal that might ever show up on my door will probably be one of those official yellow legal tapes that warn people not to cross the line for fear of some danger on the other side. I’m sure there’s probably some lurking health hazard contained in my layers of dust, or my smudgy windows, or my unmade bed and, Lord knows, it is just a matter of time before someoe will feel the need to protect the public from the impending epidemic. Come to think of it, that yellow warning tape could offer a little benefit of its own; at least no one will be disturbing my naps.

About this writer

  • There is a sign hanging at eye level at my front door that reads; “A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.”

    When I die, I may be accused of having done a lot of things, but misspending my life will not be one of them.

    It’s not that I have anything against cleanliness or neatness. I am, in fact, a big fan of the philosophy that advises “A place for everything and everything in its place.” I might even try to put that into practice, if only I had that many places.

    When it comes to actual house cleaning, however, I stumble over two major difficulties: One, I can always think of something to do that I much prefer over dusting or vacuuming (sleeping, for instance) and two, once you start housework, there seems to be no end.

    Consider, for instance, the potentially daily chore of making one’s bed. This is, in my considered opinion, a ridiculous waste of time. Think about it. What are you accomplishing here that might be of any lasting benefit? If you do make up your bed, the very next exchange between you and the bed is that, presumably, some time later in the evening, you are going to un-make it and slide your body into it. Now, I ask you, is this an efficient use of time? You’re doing a thing purely so that you can undo it later? I mean, you could be spending the time required for making the bed actually lying in the bed – which to my mind is a considerably better idea. (I believe I mentioned earlier my fondness for sleeping.)

    Now, without even trying very hard, I can hear some of you arguing with me that a made-up bed looks neater, and I won’t argue back that you’re mistaken. I will, however, ask you, to whom does it look neater? Nobody has any business in the bedroom except whoever’s going to sleep there, and that person presumably knows what the bed looks like under the covers. So what have you gained?

    One other point that just begs to be made is this one: If there are various other people traipsing through your sleeping quarters, and making note of whether or not your bed is neatly made up, I suspect that the quality of your housekeeping may be the least of your difficulties. The potential for trouble of one kind or another seems to grow exponentially with the number of individuals occupying one bedroom for any length of time.

    Let us move on to a lighter subject – that of dust. Dusting is one more chore that I find unnecessary, not to mention futile. Where do you think that dust goes when you wipe it off the piano? On the floor, that’s where. So then you vacuum, which stirs it up again, so it can resettle on the piano. And so then you dust the piano again, disturbing the dust so that it flitters to the floor, which requires you to re-vacuum, and…See my point?

    If you consider dust unsightly, there is a simple solution. You have only to buy some of those nice low-wattage, soft-white light bulbs. Then, instead of blinding brightness, all your lamps can cast a nice hazy glow over everything (which resembles dust, anyhow), and your dust will fade from view at the flick of a switch.

    I’m not on intimate terms with my vacuum cleaner, either. This may be largely due to a personal problem, however. Without my contact lenses, I am as blind as the bottom side of a flounder, so I frequently fail to see the need for vacuuming. With 20/200 vision, not only is the dirt invisible, but the carpet as well. This is sort of one of those “when God closes a door, He opens a window” sort of things. Who knew there was going to be such a valuable upside to poor vision?

    And speaking of windows, here’s a word or two about them. Window shades, blinds, curtains and draperies are called window coverings. If you use those items as that term indicates they should be, and keep your windows covered, how can they get dirty? And if they do, who can tell – as long as the shades are down? Which is easier – pulling a shade or wearing out 17 paper towels with Windex (not to mention your arm)?

    Mopping floors is pretty near the top of my list of disgusting activities. Frequent visitors to my home will not be surprised by this admission, as a few formerly close friends have been known to mention something about feet sticking to the floor, and one brave soul offered to buy me a mop. I offered to loan him a pair of socks.

    I will confess that, periodically, even I can see – or more accurately, feel – the need to improve the state of my kitchen floor, but I do not mop it. I do not even own a mop. I have never in my life seen a mop, string or sponge, that ever approached being clean after the moment of its first use. String mops are generally found either in a bucket of thick gray water, presumably soaking, or standing, head-up, in some out-of-the way corner, with their cotton strands grayer than the head of any middle-aged woman who’s missed her last salon appointment. For sponge mops, the idea of the cheery bright yellow they once were is a very dim memory; once used, their hue more closely approximates expired mustard.

    So what do I do with my kitchen floor? Well; you know that lovely little sprayer nozzle at your kitchen sink? It takes nearly no practice at all to aim that little gizmo all around the kitchen, neatly hitting the previously-applied streams of dishwashing liquid, effortlessly creating just the right amount of suds. Then I can toss down a raggedy and retired bath towel on to the floor and skate myself around the kitchen, not only cleaning my floor but getting a little exercise at the same time.

    It’s worth more than a casual mention, particularly given the current economic climate, that adopting a laissez-faire attitude toward housekeeping not only frees up large quantities of time for other more pleasurable activities, it also results in quite a bit of money-saving. Dusting paraphernalia, vacuum bags, window cleaners, floor preparations, along with paper towels and the afore-mentioned costly mops, have been pretty effectively deleted from my shopping list. I am also immune to the temptation to purchase expensive household appliances designed to keep one’s environment sterile. Why buy a Dust Buster if you rarely use the vacuum? To make the vacuum less lonely by making it think that it’s acquired offspring? Perish the thought.

    It should be fairly clear by now that I’ll never have to worry about being disturbed by those kind folks who give out the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. In fact, it occurs to me that the only seal that might ever show up on my door will probably be one of those official yellow legal tapes that warn people not to cross the line for fear of some danger on the other side. I’m sure there’s probably some lurking health hazard contained in my layers of dust, or my smudgy windows, or my unmade bed and, Lord knows, it is just a matter of time before someoe will feel the need to protect the public from the impending epidemic. Come to think of it, that yellow warning tape could offer a little benefit of its own; at least no one will be disturbing my naps.

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6 Responses to “If Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, the Angels Have Nothing to Fear from Me”

  1. Lucinda Barksdale says:

    Lynn, you’ve done it again. I must also add, your logic makes perfect sense to me. I think I will print a copy of this story and give it to my husband.

  2. shelli cornelison says:

    We are kindred spirits. I believe you would feel right at home in my house. But I fear you are a far better hostess. I never thought to offer to loan anyone a pair of socks. I do often ponder why dust bunnies can’t be considered dependents and if I might qualify for an artistic grant of some sort if I draw in my dust.

  3. donna says:

    Just wondering if spending money goes along with this way of thinking, mind you that you have plenty to spend? If some folks have certain things in order; beds made, floors swept, dishes washed, etc… then they can begin their day, like combing hair and brushing teeth. There are reasons for tideness in people’s lives one having good heigene. If something is messed up on the outside you can be sure it stems from something being messed up (neglect, attention, overweight, loneliness, depression) on the inside.

  4. donna says:

    When entering someones space, let it be or lend a hand. What ever works but that is their space and respecting and excepting it will be ok. your ok, im ok.

  5. ben bolt says:

    Haven’t talked to you in a long time. It might be a lng time before you see this. Its 12/21/10 and I’m on the way back from Jacksonville ,FL.. I passed by Jeckell Island and your name came to mind as it usually does. Anyway I don’t know what you are doing don’t know if you are still in Oak Island or not, just wanted to send you a Merry Chirstmas message. Take care.

    Ben Bolt

    • Lynn Ingram says:

      Ben!

      I just now saw the comment you left on my story in Sasee. Amazing.
      Email me
      lynningram99@gmail.com
      Yes, I’m still on Oak Island. Went back to school, got my master’s in psychology, have opened a practice here….still trying to figure out what to do with my life….would love to talk to you.
      Lynn

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