Molly Fisk: House Shame

Tomorrow, a long-time friend from college is coming to visit. I’m trying hard not to have a fit. You know, one of those fits about how my house isn’t presentable, my life isn’t presentable, and I should never let anyone come over.

This morning I washed the dishes, folded last week’s laundry to get it off the couch, made the bed, and put 312 cat toys back in the cat-toy basket. Jack is now sleeping on top of them. Then Gracie threw up in the sink, so I had to clean that up. On the one hand, of course, better the sink than the living room rug. On the other hand, yick.

By then it was time to face the real music, which is my kitchen countertops. For some unknown reason, I like to put things down on them. I think they might be magnetic: mail, groceries, magazines, cans of cat food, receipts for Christmas presents that aren’t even tax deductible, everything ends up there. The car rental paperwork is on top, for the car I needed last week after someone totaled mine while it was parked on the street.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but if I had made one it would have been to figure out this countertop traffic congestion and try to change it. Efficiency experts tell us we should only touch something once. If there’s a bill in your hand, open the envelope, take out the bill, and put it in your folder or shoe box or desk drawer where the to-be-paid bills go. Do not put the bill down, unopened, on your counter.

Well, fine, but what if you still have your coat on, and your gloves, because you just walked in the house? Are you supposed to keep the bill in your hand as you struggle out of your parka? What about your keys? And if you’re a woman over 50, you probably want to take off your bra immediately after your coat, since now that you’re home respectability is less important than comfort. Have you ever tried removing a bra while clutching the propane bill? I didn’t think so.

In my house, the sensible thing is to put what’s in my hands down on the counter. The trouble is, once it’s out of my grip, I’m a free agent, and just as likely to reach for the phone, make tea, or turn on the laptop as I am to pick up the mail again.

If I were smart, I’d put a big basket on the counter, drop things in there, and then once a week empty the basket. And although I am smart, I’m also the kind of person who’d empty the basket on alternate Tuesdays under a blue moon. Plus, a basket would just attract cats, whom I am trying to keep off the counter.

I can see that I may have to entertain my friend on the front porch all afternoon. Luckily, over the 40 the years I’ve known her, she’s been up for anything.

I just hope it doesn’t snow.


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  • jan hersh February 20, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Love this essay. We are soul sisters in the struggle for neat and clear counters, tables, etc.

  • Patricia February 12, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Thank you, Molly, for being so human. I can relate to all your “problems”, except the cat thing! Love to read of your adventures every Sunday morning, first thing!!

  • Shirley February 12, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Haven’t most of us suffered this feeling? I have discovered that people are usually so dang glad to be going to someone else’s house that they don’t notice things that’re out of order or not spotless that we hostesses obcess about beforehand.

  • hillsmom February 11, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Oh Molly, We must be “soul sisters” because I can absolutely relate to what you have written. Only I just have one cat now. This morning I was thinking that Gussie hadn’t thrown up for awhile. Perhaps it was due to the fact that she had her teeth cleaned last week, which included an extraction. Her breath is nice now, too. However, she wormed her way out of the bathroom, because I had to go in it. She gets fed in the bathroom, and has to stay in there for 15 minutes, because it’s easier to clean barf up off the tile floor. So, Mr. Murphy allowed her to run right into the carpeted guest room and toss her cookies! Sigh… She then continued on into the vestibule, but fortunately tossed the rest on the slate floor. As to the counter top, in addition to the “dropped and stays”, my DH loves sweets. He keeps cookies and chocolates in clear containers, at the other end of the counter. It calls to me constantly. You get the picture and it’s not pretty. A friend came over to watch the Super Bowl Sunday, so I had to scurry around and sweep papers, etc. into piles. I just today finally found my W2 form. “And so it goes…”

    I know you like birds Molly. I think I”m starting to see the faintest tinge of yellow on the Goldfinches. The brilliant male Bluebird was checking out the nest box in the front. I did go and make sure it was cleaned out, because you can never see enough Bluebirds. Oh, a friend gave me a pillow which says, “A clean house denotes a misspent life”. =^..^=

  • C.J. February 11, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    I LOVE Molly Fisk. That’s it. That is all………….