After more than five years living in our apartment, I don’t think I have ever cleaned behind the refrigerator (or in front of it or inside it, for that matter). It just never occurred to me.
As inept as I am at cleaning, I am also rather compulsive. Once the idea strikes me, not another moment can pass before I clean behind the refrigerator. For all I knew there could be an entire colony of mice back there, feasting on leftover Veggie Booty.
I finally manage to wedge the white GE Profile fridge a few inches away from the wall. No mice, but I do find some stray crayons and enough cereal to feed a family of four.
While I'm at it, why not poke behind the kids’ Fisher Price plastic toy kitchen? Surprise! I gag when I discover a rancid sippy cup dripping with days old milk and orange juice, a particularly deadly combination.
Clumps of hair, stray cheerios and unidentified detritus clings to the wet toilet paper I have been using in place of a sponge. Ahhh. So satisfying to see the results of my labor.
When Avo finally saunters in, beaming with pride after managing to score his wife’s favorite ice cream at the fourth bodega, I beckon to him from the kitchen, “Honey, I have a surprise for you!”
No doubt, he pictures me in something slinky, ready to shower him with wifely affection. When he sees me on my hands and knees, his face breaks out in a naughty grin. Instead of sexy lingerie, I am clad in a paisley flannel nightgown straight out of “Little House on the Prairie.” Not exactly what he had in mind.
“What’s that you’re doing?” he asks with the same pitying look you might give a mental patient. “Um, I’m scrubbing the kitchen floor with a paper towel!”
“I can see how I can get compulsive about cleaning,” I confess and we both break out in laughter. Soon, he is on the floor with me – feeding me ice cream from the container. Once again I ask myself – what did I do to deserve such a good man?
“If I start to clean, I’m afraid it will never be clean enough,” I admit. “You know, I have an obsessive streak. What if I become one of those compulsive types who never leave the house because I’m too busy keeping it spotless?
“Somehow I am not worried about that,” he says.
As always, his cobalt blue eyes reassure me. If I squint, he looks a bit like George Clooney. Same salt-and-pepper hair, dark eyebrows and killer smile.
“I guess I’m just one of those people who feel there is no point in making my bed in the morning because I’m just going to have to mess it up at night.”
“So then I guess there’s no point in showering because you’re just going to get dirty again,” says Avo.
“But housework seems so endless.”
“It is endless. You just have to accept that cleaning is a Sisyphean task. There’s something Zen about keeping house. You have to accept that it’s endless. It will never be done.”
I resolve to make peace with my inner housewife. But then I wonder: do I even have an inner housewife? If so, why has she never revealed herself to me?