I talk a good game about getting older. I’ve used this space to share about my defiant gray hair, and my courage in the face of mounting birthdays. Miss a birthday because I want to camouflage my age? Hah! I’m 52, dangit! Where’s my present?
While I don’t mind “older,” I do mind the part where I’m getting a whole lot more boring.
I asked my college-aged daughter what she wanted for her birthday and she hesitated. “It’s lame,” she said.
I was sure it wasn’t. What could she possibly want that would make her hesitate so? Embarrassed, she muttered, “A vacuum cleaner.” She continued, “I know I’m getting old and boring, but it’s what I want.”
Lame? Honey, I’ll see your lame and raise you a dull. You’re talking to a woman who once asked for, and received from a very reluctant husband, a George Foreman grill for Valentine’s Day. Hey, it was a fancy one with removable trays and even a grill sponge, so don’t judge.
But I can take this one step further down Uninteresting Street with this one: All I want anymore, no, all I crave are two lousy free days to clean my house.
Two. Days. To clean. Just like spring break in college!
Let me be clear about this: I don’t want someone to come and clean my house for me, because I would die of embarrassment right on the spot as the helpless housekeeper surveyed the wreckage and then picked up the phone to call the producers of “Hoarders.” What we’re looking at here is some sort of epic meltdown; an historic confluence of disasters; a perfect storm, if you will, of business trips and family emergencies and illness and construction projects run amok that have left me looking for an unimpeded place to sit and/or five uninterrupted minutes to mop.
It all started, as most of my home-related disasters do, when Dad Interrupted convinced me that the perfect wall unit for our family room would be the one we built ourselves. There’s a classic quote about this phenomenon: “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are ‘Honey, I’ll build it myself!’”
Cue the piles of temporarily-homeless books. Cue the carpenter equipment all over the couch. Cue the dust. Cue the dust in the refrigerator. Cue the television lying on my bed. For a week.
On top of this, let’s add late nights at work, two illnesses, two hastily-scheduled business trips and a suitcase I still haven’t unpacked from a week ago, and a family emergency last weekend that necessitated a sudden trip out of town. It all adds up to a snowdrift of dog hair, a bathroom that is about to generate its own civilization in the loo, and piles of books stacked up in the tub, just in time for house guests this weekend after I return from another business trip. In short, a house doing its best imitation of a frat party right before the cops were called and a woman who just wants 48 hours to shovel out the Augean Stables.
I used to yearn for travel. I used to long for elegant dinner parties with sparkling dinner conversation. Now all I want is a boring date with Mr. Clean and his little friends, the Scrubbing Bubbles.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears monthly