I keep a clean house. I kept a clean room as a kid and I kept clean dorm rooms in college, and so on down the line. But having been house-bound for the past few days during the unusual Polar Apocalypse we’ve been experiencing from Coast to Coast, I have come to the sobering realization that my house is not as clean as I thought it was. This is because being house-bound we are forced to look at our house.
On the surface, all seemed fine, but there are these places (these nooks and crannies) that have escaped my diligent eye for some time. Hell, in some cases maybe for years. And so, armed with an arsenal of Windex, paper towels, newspapers, sponges, scrub brushes, furniture wax and various poisonous household potions, I went at the deep cleaning with the heart of a warrior and the cluelessness of a clubbed duck. Unbeknownst to me (because had I known I would never have begun this brutal campaign) I had opened a veritable Pandora’s Box of the here-to-fore unknown and unclean. And I blame the sun for most of it.
Think your house is clean? Let a little sunshine in. Let a little direct sunlight in and all your domestic flaws are revealed because the sun does not lie. The sun has no empathy. The sun is a bitch. Let me go down the list for you…
I have 15 windows. But there are 4 windowpanes to each window. That’s 60 window panes. And the sun hates all of them, especially when it is out. And just because it is -14 and supposed to drop into the negative 20s, the sun is indeed out. What I learned here is that even though you think your windows are clean—one single laser-thin ray of sunshine will tell you otherwise.
I have a lot of wood in this place, some of it over a hundred years old. And I dust and wipe and pamper this wood. But that sunshine says (in reference to virtually every piece of wood in this house) “Hey, YOU! Yeah, YOU! PIGPEN! You missed a spot.”
Behind the washer and dryer was a world of memories and mystery: Nerf Gun Bullets. Four bucks in loose change. Half a Dozen Socks. Pens. Bleach and detergent bottle caps. Hangers. Broken Hangers. Pez Dispensers. Enough lint to stuff a sofa. And my favorite find —3 red and white fishing bobbins.
In every drawer, in every closet, I discovered a wriggling worm-ball of phone chargers, laptop chargers, audio/visual hookups, miles of USB and HDMI and PlayStation and Kindle and 3DS and power supplies and splitters and variations on all of the above. I have “re-bought” these frigging connectors a dozen times over. They now ALL sit in one spot—THE MAGIC BUCKET, a five gallon bucket of crap on the closet floor. The MAGIC BUCKET will cure all your electronic needs, even those from 35 years ago. THE MAGIC BUCKET is the electronics equivalent of the Crash Cart in the Emergency Room.
MEDICINE CABINETS: I seldom get sick. As a matter of fact, from the time I started kindergarten until the time I graduated 12th GRADE I did not miss a single day of school. And that includes catechism. Let that sink in! Perfect Attendance. Not Faithful Attendance. Not Good Attendance. But Perfect Attendance! Point is, I am seldom sick. And I am not a pill taker or a drug user of any kind, unless I hear these exact words from my Doctor: “If you don’t take these pills you will die.”
With this in mind I ponder “Why is all this crap in my medicine cabinets?” “Who LEFT this crap here?”
“Why do I have five bottles of Pink Calamine Lotion and about 70 disposable razors?” I don’t even use disposable razors. I’ve got baby aspirin and baby shampoo and baby cough medicine and baby cue-tips and baby diaper pins and baby dupa lotion and BABY BABY BABY! There hasn’t been a baby in this house in 15 years!!! Are people popping in with their babies when I’m out getting furniture polish? What the hell? “Whose birth control pills are these?” The last dose is dated Thursday, July 7th 1997?” I don’t know, but I hope they remembered not to be amorous on Thursday, July 7th 1997.
LASTLY…THE CEILINGS. This was my biggest adventure and also my biggest failure as a non-moron. Because it proves that indeed I am a moron. Because after I had tackled every hidden dirty spot in my humble home within reach and felt the job complete, I looked up at the ceilings and said, “Oh, crap.” These are stucco ceilings. I hate stucco almost as much as sunlight on my TV. And talk about nooks and crannies?! Every square inch of a stucco ceiling will hold as much cob-web and spiderweb and dust and dander as your household can kick up. So I took a broom to these ceilings and realized in about 30 seconds I should have done this little chore FIRST! But dusting down your ceilings is a lot like falling off a
roof. Once it starts there ain’t no stopping it. Needless to say, when I was through with the ceilings the rest of my here-to-fore immaculate house looked like a couple of shedding St. Bernard’s had an Ultimate Fighting Match in every room of the house.
A VITAL POSTSCRIPT: F— WINDEX. I did not do all my 60 windows today but I did 30 of them. This involved taking out screens, removing windows, ladders both inside and outside the house. And when I was done they all looked beautiful. And then Mr. SUNSHINE showed up and bitch-slapped me once again by highlighting a couple of hundred streaks and smudges. You may blame this upon my lack of window washing skills. But I say NAY! I say F— WINDEX! Die WINDEX die!
So until next time, keep your shades drawn and never, EVER look up at your ceiling.
By Douglas Delaney, All Rights Reserved 2024
Douglas Delaney is a Levittown native and an award-winning author of fiction, non-fiction (Tower Dog: Life Inside the Deadliest Job in Ameria, theater (The Last 10 Miles of Avery J. Coping) and cinema (All Roads Lead Home.)
Doug’s documentary on the Levittown Red Devils (The Devils You Knew) is in the final stages of production and his latest written work regarding life growing up on Long Island is available on Substack.