Whispered Confessions by a Maid of Dishonor


If there is indeed a utopia to be found, surely it features among its endless litany of precious perks: perpetually glistening windows, self-vacuuming needlepoint rugs, and laundry that reverts to being “breezy” fresh, neatly pressed, and folded and yet put away. Sadly, here in the hinterlands, there is neither utopia nor hope of its discovery. The noble and almighty “Gods of Household Missions” taunt Jon and me.

Maytag, Hoover, and Windex are merely powerless muses who remind us that the overly exaggerated “Twelve Labors of Hercules” were actually “seven” one time obstacles. Of course, this was back in an era when historians were less persnickety about details and image, and more concerned about scaring the masses into submission … not unlike FOX News, the Westboro Baptist Church, nor that Coulter person.

True, we at Marklewood take our household missions seriously, constantly in fear of wrath of the housecleaning deities. But we amply mist our humble house with denial and burn the obligatory candles of neglect. We have become modern “maids of dishonor”.

We leave our spectacles bedside, so as to render us unable to scrutinize any dust. Pfluffer does, however, always manage to scrawl some cryptic message on the television screen with his “swiffer-esque” paws. I imagine he’s critiquing either litterbox maintenance or streaks on his otherwise shiny food bowl.

With five indoor pusses, it is always both safe and prudent to assume that at least one is napping. Obsessive worrier that I am, I fear waking them from a recuperative or healthy slumber … with the ugly and intrusive mumblings and moans of Velvet, our venerable vacuum.

Now that my beloved is retired, he is determined to catch up and thus stay ahead with laundry, although he is befuddled by the concept of sorting. He expertly cleans the lint trap as well as the dryer’s ductwork that “exhales” its hot, pungent breath into the nandina out back. He measures, wrings, and fluffs with a master’s finesse, but stops just short of folding. Clean clothing and linens are now a-mound on our guest bed, with shirts casually hanging from the posters. I am the real culprit as I prefer t-shirts, boxers, socks, and towels to be folded in a precise and consistent manner. Unsuspecting eyes have indeed caught me re-folding polo shirts and then re-stacking and “colorizing” them. Oy.

Although my most satisfying dreams involve both greater closet space and an “easier to maintain” Marklewood, I am a pragmatist … at least on a Monday. At the start of a week, I am easily teeming with resolve and vows.

But avoidance, denial, neglect, and habit play a mean game of Bridge, and I feel forever trumped. I suspect that should you drop by for a tall iced coffee and tasty puffed pillow cookie, you might find the downstairs lighting more ambient than expected. Velvet will be alone and likely up to no good in the linen closet. The guest bedroom door will be tightly shut. And Sam will be sound asleep in my favorite chair, safeguarding the television screen from Pfluffer’s scribbles and dreaming of his own version of Utopia.

(Image: “Messenger” by Ray Caesar, 2004.)