I’m what you would call a ‘closet slob’.
Not because my closet is untidy, which it frequently is. But because I’m in the closet about how messy I have the potential to really be.
I know this because every Tuesday I wake up at 7am in a panic because I realize that my cleaning-lady is about to show up at my doorstep and I had better get the place in order. Yes, I clean up for the cleaner. I’m pretty sure my mother did too.
The idea of the cleaner walking into my shambles of a home and seeing me for the slob I secretly am, fills me with dread. So I leap out of bed and scurry around the house collecting dirty clothes, towels and LeBron Jamesing them into the laundry basket that I bought during a moment of optimism.
My make-up and brushes (which magically seem to cover every surface of the bathroom) are pulled together, mineral foundation powder lids are screwed on, eye shadow compacts are clicked closed and stashed in an ever growing number of in flight toiletry bags that I’ve amassed like passport stamps. (I’ve of course given up on trying to keep the inside of these make up bags clean of make up. There are some battles that just cannot be won).
I swoop into the kitchen and unload the dishwasher (which is already half unloaded since I’ve been using it as a cupboard) pulling plates and glasses swiftly from it. I blast the tap and scrub the pile of plates and pots in the sink. Marble kitchen surfaces get a once over with a paper towel which is thrown into an overflowing bin that I then deliver outside my house into the blue bin, at which point is out of my jurisdiction.
My home’s entrance hall looks like a burial ground for shoes that I’ve slipped off immediately upon returning home from work. Heels, which lay like fallen soldiers are quickly placed into neat rows and shoved into one of my three bursting walk in wardrobes, as are the clothes I’ve peeled off that lie on the floor. I used to be fine wearing uncomfortable clothes but these days I can’t wait to extract myself from the torture devices that we call fashion. I also used to shy away from nudity, but these days comfort wins over shyness every time. My neighbors know me extremely well.
Next, the pillows are fluffed and straightened, the desk is (somewhat) sorted, and just as the beads of sweat start to roll down my brow I hear a gentle knock on the door and she’s here. And the place is presentable. And my secret is safe for another week.
Even my social life revolves around my cleaner’s schedule. Nobody is allowed into my home if she hasn’t recently waved her magic feather duster. As a result, my preferred evening for entertaining guests has become Tuesday, immediately after my cleaner has left. If you’re in the neighborhood please stop by. The problem is no one seems to appreciate a Tuesday night dinner party invitation as much as I do.
The truth is I live in perpetual fear that my cleaner will leave me. I just gave her a raise to try and buy her loyalty and I can’t stop apologizing to her and saying “Thank you !” each time she does anything remotely in the way of cleaning. It’s a lifelong habit. At one point I had a cleaner say to me, “You don’t have to keep apologizing”. To which I immediately replied, “You’re right, I’m sorry.”
My praising of my cleaner isn’t remotely patronizing, nor do I think cleaning is beneath me. I have genuine respect for what she does. The level of logistical problem solving required to keep my shoe closet orderly is Mensa level.
Looking back, it’s clear cleaning up and I have never been simpatico. I’m desperately incompetent when it comes to cleaning bathrooms and only slightly less so when it comes to the kitchen. My mother once aptly described my dish scrubbing technique as having “two left hands”. It pained to her too much to watch me do it so she invariable stepped in to put us both out of our misery.
Of course my dishwashing dyslexia isn’t entirely my fault. I don’t recall ever being taught how to properly stack a dishwasher or iron a shirt or vacuum a floor, let alone scrub a bath or clean a toilet. My cleaning style is entirely self-taught. In the way that Grey Garden’s Big And Little Edie Beale’s housekeeping style was self-taught.
My devotion to my cleaners has spurned many a close friendship with them over the years. When I lived in New York there was Selena, a kind portly Ecuadorian woman whom I would discuss all of my current boyfriend challenges with. She was such a great listener. I was several months into our “friendship” before the friend who referred her to me revealed that she didn’t understand English, at all. This discovery meant one of two things: we either had a connection that transcended language or I’m more of a talker than a listener. I’d like to say it’s the former.
It’s not just cleaning ladies that I like. I adore clean men. I’d go so far as to say that cleanliness tops my list of priorities for potential partners. Looking back at my assortment of past loves, it’s unnerving to discover the one-shared character trait is their OCD tendencies.
There was Anthony, my first love and the only 14-year-old rugby-playing schoolboy who enjoyed laundering his own jersey post game. David, a hedge fund analyst who used to call me into the bedroom and say “Let me show you how to make hospital corners”, which I found hot.
Jordan, a real estate developer had a conniption if I forgot to slip off my shoes before walking into his apartment. Jason, a man who could not concentrate on the television show we were watching if the remote control wasn’t at a perfect right angle to the edge of the coffee table it rested on. And my husband Siimon, who has a policy of donating an item of clothing each time he buys something new, a philosophy I deeply admire but could never adopt.
I view my wardrobe the same way a Chef might view their pantry, a compendium of ingredients on hand ready to whip up any outfit for any occasion at a moment’s notice. Need navy patent heels to go with a navy and tangerine knit sweater dress? Not a problem. As a result I can get dressed very quickly and can not recall the last time I said “I have nothing to wear”.
So while I’m not very good at keeping things in the closet, I have no intention of coming out about it.
Copyright Kathryn Eisman 2017 All Rights Reserved