(If You Haven't, You're Not Alone....)

By Bill Kirk

Think quickly! What's the first feeling you get when someone mentions "cleaning", as in "we're cleaning this weekend" or "we can't put off the cleaning any longer"? Let's face it. It's a combination of dread, resignation and resistance. I like to call it "dre-sig-nis-tance".

When a wave of dresignistance comes on, especially immediately before "the holidays", suddenly climbing Mount Everest and cliff diving in Acapulco seem like things you ought to be doing instead. Now, if you could only find those travel brochures you picked up last year---as if you thought you'd ever actually do those things in the first place.

I'm not sure what makes cleaning such a chore. Maybe it's because no matter how well you do it, you are destined to repeat it. After all, "Been there. Done that." just isn't in the cleaning lexicon. Then there's the dust, most of it comfortably settled and waiting to explode with the slightest breath, like one of those dandelion seed tufts. How do all those little dust bunnies form, anyway?

There they are, lurking in corners and under furniture, waiting to pounce---or escape ahead of your approaching rag or mop. Some of the little devils are even bold enough to materialize on tile floors, linoleum or wood, right there in plain sight along the full length of baseboards. If dust bunnies had gall, the ones stretched out like so many snail trails (let's call them dust worms) would be the ones with the most of it.

As for gender boundaries, cleaning has none. Nor is there a preponderant male/female claim to chronic collector status. Doesn't everyone have stacks of cherished magazines and catalogs, from Playboy to Pottery Barn, from "O" to "Q", from Real Simple to REI? All of them are so hope-filled and glossy. Sure, we'll get back to that compelling relationship article eventually or try that recipe for goat cheese-vegetarian lasagna with avocado and a hint of mint. Toss them out? How could we? To paraphrase the classic from Seals and Croft, "these may never come this way again."

But wait! Maybe the act of the cleansing purge (hey, remember, we're talking housework here) has gotten a bad rap all these years. When you get right down to it, cleaning is really simply a mini-archeological excavation, with surprises under every layer---little trips down memory lane on the way toward self-rediscovery. Of course this assumes we actually want to remake those little discoveries in the first place. But let's not go there.

Just think of the fun in the discovery, nay even the reward, that awaits you. Have you browsed through the rows of packages and cans in your pantry which are months or even years beyond their "best if used by" date. What about the caches of expired coupons in that little basket by the phone; the knic-knacs and chotchkys---priceless dust catchers---lined up in formation on shelves and hutchtops?

Ah, but the true irony lies in the well-intentioned buckets and bags of partially and never used cleaning supplies shoved into the dark recesses of "the under-sink". Considering what's down there, a decision not to clean may actually be a survival statement. How can anyone be certain an inadvertent cleaning solution poisoning will be covered by their health insurance? Let's not go there either.

So, what's to be done with the dust and clutter of times past. Can we ever part with our accumulated stash of good stuff which seems to have taken up permanent residence? Isn't it time to toss off the tantalizing tyrany of "too much"; to soundly trounce the trash evolved from treasure; to finally unburden the body and soul?

Come on. You can do it. Compulsion is under rated. Just think of it as turning your cleaning quirks into fashion statements. That damp rag tucked under a rubber band at your wrist will eradicate errant smudges in a flash. White gloves with a spritz of dust spray? Perfect for swiping away new traces of pre-dust on the bannister? And what could be bolder than strapping on a tool belt filled with cleaning supplies? Throw caution to the wind. No mercy! This is war! Be the first cleaning fashionista on your block. Are you with me?

Wait. Isn't there a ball game on TV now? Animal Planet? The Brady Bunch? Anything? Where's the remote? I'm pretty sure I just saw it a couple days ago....

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