I have an addiction to cleaning.
The smell of OxyClean and Clorox arouse me the same way dark chocolate does; it completes my sense of self.
As a result of my singular addiction to tidiness, my friends think (and rightly should they) that I am crazy.
My friends make up a group of go-nowhere, do-nothing gamers with Mountain Dew bellies and a surplus of frozen pizzas to their name. They are, what I would consider, my exact opposites.
Perhaps this is why I feel like an astronaut on an alien world when I enter their kitchen. Things grow there on ruins that resemble ancient Tupperware and coffee mugs. Rainbows of colored mold and rotting remnants of week-old meals greet me like General Lee greeted Grant at Appomattox.
On sight of my yellow gloves and grim set eyes, and perhaps sensing the dish soap which I wear like a belly gun, there is a systematic attack of smell from my extra-terrestial adversaries.
Every fungus and spore release their most powerful odor against me but, I KNOW, it is only and matter of time… Soon, the perfume of chlorine will wipe away all trace of this alien life on sink and sponge. Soon, I will see countertops and stainless steel and relish my victory with a Hostess Snack Cake.
After the initial attack on my sinuses, hot water begins a joyous flood over alien terrain. I draw my first weapon and put it to judicious use; my Cascade dish soap.
It fights, valiantly enough, but too quick it exhausts itself. My eyes narrow as I note the casualties of my enemies with the bitter twist of the gut of someone cheated. But I cannot let disappointment over-power my logic; if I wait too long, my enemy will launch a devastating counter attack.
The thought of myself lying prone on the floor, sponges and soap bottles littered around me like spent round from a Gatling gun, is on that gives me pause.
But I proceed onwards, By God!
I had my best fighters at my side! No one can defeat Mr. Clean, or Scrubbing Bubbles, or Lemon Scented Wipes!
And I do not befriend the generic brands of cleaner and cloth, they are far too wishy-washy. I invest in the fines John Wayne’s and Clint Eastwood’s of the Wild, Wild Kitchen Cleaners. You can’t get a good generic “John Wayne”, I don’t care if your some French-made organic miracle cleaner like Method. It’s impossible.
The battle wears on into the wee hours with neither side giving nor asking quarter. My hands become tender and sore, my eyes blood shot and teary from the fumes of enemy and ally alike. I refuse to lose heart in the face of this enemy invasion; it is the sheer will to prevail that presses me onward.
Then…the dish washer breaks down in a hiss of steam and the odd crunching of plastic and cheap steel.
I freeze up, stunned and mortified; this is the end. My troops are doomed! All my effort, wasted! I force myself not to cry. I will not show such weakness in view of enemy ranks.
I look around at ground I had gained being retaken by the enemy. My own fighters cannot advance, it’s like seeing Custer’s Last Stand and I am General Custer…
And I’ve lost my gun.
Then panic, and it grabs onto me with it’s vice-like grip. I try to shout “Retreat! Fall Back!” but my voice won’t work and all I do is yawn.
I see emptied bottles and sponges on the floor as though open-eyed casualties on the field, dressed in brightly colored suits, wearing name tags with flowers and lemon logo’s.
I see myself, as I did in my vision, lost, fallen, among them.
“Did you break it?” my friend asks, and I look at him. I do not know when he arrived, but he points to the dishwasher.
Rage then, and pure adrenaline; I am fueled by hate. Hatred of these friends who would lie in cahoots with this determined foe. Hatred of the God Damn Dishwasher and it’s ill-timed failure of the nerves! Hatred of this stench, of the soreness, of this war, of the enemy.
I grab the nearest blue sponge and a steak knife and attack single handedly against the massed horde in what is the Molly-Maid equivalent of the “Last Charge of the Light Brigaide.”
My friend has long dove out of sight to safe cover, the enemy is being butchered in what will one day be known as a massacre of mold and lice.
When it is over, I stand victorious, panting and drenched in sweat. I smell of all the fine sanitizers of the world and have an aura about me cast by the brilliant shine of counter top and kitchenware.
With a smile, I whip out my Hostess Snack Cake, and have a bite.
© 2008, Anna M. Jordan, All Rights Reserved.