21 September 2007

Smudged Porcelain

I have often talked, self-deprecatingly, about my habit of cleaning the bathroom before anyone comes over. It is a remnant of my mother (although she is most certainly not dead, at least not last week when I talked to her), a vestige of her influence, a tidbit of training. I simply cannot have guests over, even for ten minutes, knowing that my bathroom is not sparkly and lemon-scented.

My mom would make me clean each bathroom in the house (yes, even the basement one) whenever we were having guests. Guests, in her mind, included anyone who did not have a bedroom in said house. This meant that each time my grandmother or great-aunt came over, I would be dispatched to the loo bearing a bucket of Soft Scrub.*

(* It has just occurred to me that in addition to being a good hostess and showing guests that she keeps a clean house, this might have also been a symptom of proving herself to her mother. I emphatically sympathize.)

And so I find myself doing the same. There is a small voice over my shoulder, that says "But they will notice, and they will judge!" When I have people over, even if I know there's no possible chance they will have to use the bathroom, out comes the sponge. I can clean a toilet, sink and mirror in six minutes, and a tub in another eight. Practice, baby, practice.

I have guests over this weekend, friends of mine from a former life. I know perfectly well that they will not think less of me for having smudged porcelain, but nevertheless I was up at midnight last night, scouring and wiping and polishing. As I did so, I thought about my mom, about the profound influence she has had on my actions. I decided to start an early Mothers Day gift, a list of ways that she has changed me and things she has taught me.

1. Cleaning the bathroom when guests come. Must be done. No exceptions.
2. Tea is infinitely superior to coffee. (nb: Well, sometimes. Dad's influence is in there, too.)
3. A balanced meal consists of a protein, a vegetable and a starch. No more is necessary, and no less is acceptable. You may not have two starches; that is carbohydrate overload.
4. It is possible, and desirable, to use wrapping paper more than nine times. Gift boxes may be used infinitely.
5. Clothes should fit, and can be altered to fit. Although I draw the line at having skirts sit at my natural waist.
6. There is a right way to load the drying rack/dishwasher, and a wrong way. Mine is the the correct one.
7. You can always add more water to the orange juice concentrate to get a couple extra glasses out of the can.
8. I can fit three weeks' worth of clothing into a weekend bag, and I can do it in four and a half minutes. (I'm rather proud of this fact.)

Okay, the mother in question just IM'ed me. Tootles!

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