We can land a vehicle on Mars, we can dream up insane 3D-printed projects, we can even use Facebook while we’re on planes now. So how come we’re still scrubbing toilets? Come on, science, you’ve got some explaining to do!
I’m not saying the entirety of man’s scientific achievements in the last 50 odd years aren’t impressive. All I’m saying is that science fiction gave me unrealistic expectations for the future of housekeeping. The likes of Star Trek and The Jetsons promised us robots and automated housework and what do we have to show for it? The Roomba. It’s just not good enough.
Unfortunately for me, I seem to have been born lacking the Maltese gene for being extremely house-proud. Sorry, guys, but you just won’t catch me sweeping the pavement in front of my door and ironing my underwear. Much as I’d like to live in a gleaming, sparkly, well-organised palace, I would really rather it was someone else doing all the organising. And if they could manage the ironing too, that’d be grand. However, since my vague plans to become rich beyond my wildest imaginings have yet to come to fruition, I am sadly lacking a Downton Abbey-style fleet of servants to do the dusting for me.
I firmly believe that keeping a clean house is important, but there are so many other things I would rather be doing with my time… like chewing on tinfoil, or listening to nails scratching across a chalkboard.
I’m not the only one out there; there are others like me. You’ll recognise them as the people staring blankly at the rows upon rows of cleaning products in the supermarket. Those sink-polishing, toilet-whitening, lime scale-removing potions that everyone else seems to have conquered – we have no idea what they are. There are so many of them, how different could they possibly be?
I just pick the one with the prettiest flowers on the label and hope it does what I want it to do
Mostly, I just pick the one with the prettiest flowers on the label and hope it does what I want it to do. So far, I have managed not to dissolve anything I own, so I’d say this method is going reasonably well. I’ve received guidance on the matter, of course, but it doesn’t seem to do me much good. Whatever information my mother patiently imparts time and time again seems to leak slowly out of my brain just as I’m about to need it again.
She tells me that it is possible to use an iron without having completed a 16-week course and earned a handler’s licence for it, but I’m still really sure she’s skimming the truth there. Maybe, given enough years of practice, I’ll manage to iron shirts without making it look like I’ve been using them to practice my origami skills in secret.
The more housework I’m forced to do, the happier I am that I wasn’t around to be a housewife in the 1950s. Sure, the hairstyles were fabulous and times were simpler, but I’ll take that nine to five office grind over mopping floors any day of the week, and I’ll do it with a smile. I used to think that staying home to cook and clean was the easy part, but then reality set in. And it brought laundry with it.
Now, I’m reasonably convinced that the patient matriarchs of my family are privy to some kind of Mary-Poppins-style magic that they just haven’t seen fit to share with me. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I stand in the middle of my bedroom whistling A Spoon Full of Sugar and snapping my fingers, my sheets never seem to find the energy to tuck themselves in.
Of course, it’s not too expensive to have a cleaner pop around once in a while, but that brings in a special kind of panic in itself. I tend to try to make myself scarce when the maid is about. Lovely and trustworthy person that she is, I’m not sure I could bear the judgmental looks at the healthy crop of dust bunnies which forever seem to be multiplying beneath my sofa.
Even if I won’t be home when she pops around, that doesn’t stop the blind panic that grips me the night before. If you regularly leave your socks on the bathroom floor, ignore the smudges on your mirrors and turn a blind eye to clutter that’s out of your line of sight, you’re suddenly Martha Stewart when you know the maid is coming over. God forbid someone you’re paying to do the cleaning up should actually realises that there’s dirt in the house.
Invariably, I spend the evening cursing myself as I feverishly wipe down cabinets, vacuum carpets, and sneakily trying to shove odds and ends into hiding places around the house. Look, I know it doesn’t make sense, but I think we’re already past the line of common sense.
The day or so after my flat gets a good top-to-bottom clean up by hands much defter than my own are probably the happiest ones out of the whole fortnight… but of course it isn’t long before it all starts all over again. There’s always more dishes to wash, more floors to sweep and more ironing for me to crease into interesting new patterns. Maybe, given enough time, I’ll finally learn how to care a little bit more about sorting out my dark washes from my coloured washes and polishing the silverware.
Or maybe I’ll just stick to over-stuffing my washing machine and hoping for the best, while science finally delivers on that robot I’ve been waiting for.
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