The cleaning gene

Posted 6/9/19

Taking a steaming cup of coffee into my office this morning, I sat down with purpose. I'll knock out my column early, and then I can have the rest of the day to do as I please, I thought. It sounded …

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The cleaning gene

Posted

Taking a steaming cup of coffee into my office this morning, I sat down with purpose. I'll knock out my column early, and then I can have the rest of the day to do as I please, I thought. It sounded simple, but that didn't happen. I tapped keys.

Some days I write stories. Some days I write columns. But today it was tap, tap, tap backspace, backspace, backspace. 

It's on days like this that I notice things in my office. Everything in the room is covered in dust. Obviously, the room must be dusted before I could possibly write anything meaningful.

I can't believe I actually talk on a phone that grimy. I mean, how can I pick up the receiver? Hustling to the laundry room, I fetched a dust cloth and headed back to my office. My great nephew Jordan spent the morning with us, and I heard him ask Jilda what I was doing. We've been together so long that she can read me like a book. She told Jordan, "This morning, he is tapping keys." Sometimes she makes me so mad.

Once the phone was clean enough to use in a hospital operating room, I turned to get back on track writing. When the laptop came alive from its sleep, the screen looked as if it had been licked by a bulldog with allergies. I was appalled. 

If company came into our house and saw a screen that begrimed, they might not eat the pound cake with fresh blueberries and whipped cream that Jilda had made. Cleaning that screen became imperative because it would be impossible to write a word on that computer without sanitizing the display.

I think the cleaning gene is a chink in my DNA passed on from my mama. When she was a young housekeeper with kids, she was obsessed with a clean home. Even though we lived in an old camp house with cracks around the windows big enough to toss a puppy through, our house was spotless. When you walked into our living room, the worn linoleum rug shined like a new dime. There was always a faint scent of Johnson's Wax in the air when you sat on our couch.

One of my chores, when I was a kid, was dusting furniture. Keeping dust bunnies off of the window fan in our living room was a never-ending job. That fan was as big as a Buick. It had steel blades that could easily lash off a finger if you accidentally poked one through the grill. We ran it on reverse so that it sucked air through our bedroom windows at night. Even on low, the fan would make the curtains flutter in both bedrooms. The thing is, we lived on a gravel road, and that fan sucked in dust from outside. It was my job to take it from inside and put it back outside.

I thought of mama this morning as I dusted the air conditioning vents and the pencils in the desk drawer.

Finally, after everything was spick-and-span, I could get down to the business of writing this column.

Tap, tap, tap. Backspace, backspace, backspace.

Slapping the laptop cover closed, I laced on my walking shoes and convinced Jilda and Jordan to go for a walk. Halfway through the first lap, I realized that a column idea had been tormenting me all morning. 

When I sat down at my laptop after the walk, this column came in a matter of minutes.


Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, "Life Goes On," is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at rick@rickwatson-writer.com.