Man, long weekends sure screw up my internal calendar. I'm sitting here, munching on korean takeout and perusing some of my favorite blogs (your "Smut of the Month" is always a favorite, Melissa!) when I snapped to the fact that today is not Monday, like it feels, but Tuesday. And a Tuesday of a non-paycheck week, at that! Which means tomorrow is Wednesday of a non-paycheck week which is, of course, "Cleaning Lady Day Wednesday"! Holy shit, I'm sitting back on my fat ass, and I've got to clean the house before the housekeeper shows up tomorrow!
I take a lot of shit from friends about this. "Seriously?", they ask. "You clean the house your house BEFORE the cleaning lady comes?"
Yes, I do. Well, okay, what I do isn't really cleaning, but picking up, organizing, hiding, and stashing. Look, I'm a middle-aged gay man. I've got some shit that heterosexual women don't wanna deal with, okay?
I'm a bachelor and live by myself. Just before a visit by Little Miss Civilization, I have to do things like collect the scattered clothes that seem to just explode off my body when I get through the front door from work during the oppressively hot Texas summers. I have a bad habit of letting coffee mugs and empty Diet Coke bottles litter my computer table. You know, that kinda picking up: dealing with the Sloppy Guy stuff. Felix Unger, I aint. In order for her to get the real hardcore cleaning accomplished (mopping floors, dusting, scrubbing the kitchen and bathrooms), she needs to be able to FIND things like the floor and the counters and the furniture. That's my job. I unclutter and she cleans.
But, it goes beyond that. Anything remotely sexual in nature is filed away. Not because I'm ashamed or afraid that the cleaning lady will find out I'm a homo- no, I've explained that to her. She has assured me that she is cool with whatever my lifestyle is, that she's just here to provide a service. But I've had others tell me that and things weren't exactly 'cool'.
My ex had moved in with me earlier in the summer. When Christmas rolled around, I wanted to do something special for him as a gift. He had mentioned during the previous 6 months that he wished we could afford a cleaning service for the place. Two grown men in a small 1,000 sq.ft. townhouse could really do some damage, trust me. But I thought hiring someone to clean was an extravagance and a waste of money. So, my gift for him that year was a coupon for a year's house cleaning by a professional service. He was delighted. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I soon found out.
I discovered, as I began shopping for a service after the new year, that the big-time cleaning services were just too expensive for me to handle. The median price was around 90 bucks PER VISIT. I wanted someone to come in once a week. I was shouldering this expense by myself, and I couldn't swing that. I quickly realized I was going to have to find a person, not a company, to hire for this job. I hit the classifieds in the newspaper.
Several phonecalls into the process I realized that hiring a person who spoke english would probably be a good idea, since I speak no spanish what-so-ever ("Uno mas cerveza, por favor" is the extent of my bi-lingual skills). And that was going to complicate matters, it seemed. The phone interviews were disasters.
I finally found the number of a "Debbie" who was starting her own little cleaning business "One Day At A Time Cleaning". Sweet and easy-going on the phone, Debbie explained that she was a 12 Stepper and trying to get back on her feet. I invited her to the house for an interview. When she came over, she was completely professional in her appearance and demeanor. She assured me that she could whip the place into shape for 50 bucks a visit, twice a month. I was relieved. I could afford that. I made it a point to explain to her that she would be cleaning for two gay men and asked if she had any problem with that. Oh, no! Not a problem at all.
I told her that we could try it out and see if this worked for everyone. She agreed to start the next week.
Now, at the time, I had just been promoted at work, and was into having my dress shirts laundered and pressed at a nearby dry cleaners. It was expensive but, damn it, those places can make a dress shirt look fresh and crisp like I never can. Regularly, I was hauling loads of shirts to the cleaners, and bringing home a plastic-wrapped, hangered, and bundled batch of management-ready couture. Over the course of time, lots of hangers and bundle-bands kind of collected. Admittedly, it was getting out of hand. My ex would sneer, in his best Joan Crawford, about the wire hangers, and the bands that were these 4 or 5 inches in diameter, plastic, flexible circle-things that held all the hangers together for transport. I tried to keep the shit thrown away; the band thingies, the plastic bags the shirts were wrapped in, the fucking wire hangers....
Debbie's first visit was a rousing success. When we came home from work it was evident that the woman busted her ass throughout the house. I was so impressed that I tipped her an extra 30 bucks. She smiled when I handed her the cash, but didn't look me in the eye.
The next visit was less impressive. Things weren't dusted. The bedroom was, well, maybe vacuumed, but that was it. My ex and I had tried hard to keep a level of orderliness and clean since the last visit, and I thought we had made things considerably easier for her. When I asked her if everything was alright, she just mumbled, took her money (I tipped her 10 bucks this time, for a very half-assed job) and got out of the house as quickly as she could. My partner spent the better part of the evening pointing out things she didn't do that she should have done.
My first thought was that this woman admitted she was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I suspected that she was stealing things, and began an inventory to see if anything was missing. Nothing was. She wasn't stealing.
Two weeks later when we got home after work, Debbie had already left. I hadn't even paid her. The kitchen floor was swept, not mopped, and the toilet and tub was scrubbed but nothing else was touched. The kitchen counters weren't wiped down. The vacuum hadn't moved from it's corner in the closet.
"Are you going to pay 50 bucks for this?" my ex asked.
"I'll call her to see what's up." I said.
When I called her she talked very coldly to me.
"I'm sorry, but I can't work for you" she said.
"Debbie, what's the matter? What is going on?"
"Look, " she said. "Nevermind...but in the future when you hire someone to clean your house, you should be more careful about what you leave out for the person to deal with!"
"What? I...I don't know what you are talking about." I stammered.
"Do you really think I should have to deal with your sex toys? Do you know how gross that is?"
Sex toys? What in the fuck was she talking about? We didn't OWN any sex toys.
"Excuse me?" I was completely baffled by what she was saying.
"You know, my husband said that I shouldn't work for faggots, but you seemed like a really nice guy. I should have listened to him."
"Debbie, I don't -"
"Look, good luck to you, but there's no way I'm going to work for queers who leave their cockrings laying around for me to have to pick up!"
And she hung up on me. When I related the conversation to my ex, his eyes brightened.
"You have a cockring? When did you buy a cockring?"
"No, damn it, what was she fucking talking about? We don't have any sex toys!"
"Do you want to go get some?" He had always wanted a big dildo, and was taking a shot at it. Again.
"You know, you're not helping here." I said. I was perplexed about her comment, angry that I was called a faggot and a queer (for the first time), but mostly distressed that I was going to have to start the search for a replacement. For someone who initially didn't see the value of a housekeeper, I had gotten used to the idea of coming home to a clean house. Paying someone else to clean the toilets is a beautiful thing.
A few weeks passed and I hadn't found a new housekeeper, so I jumped into the cleaning chores myself. I wanted to handle this alone, since the housekeeping thing was my gift to my partner. I made a day of it. I tackled the bathrooms first, stripped the bed, did laundry all day, dusted and lemon-oiled the teak furniture, mopped the kitchen, scrubbed the counters, and did a load of dishes. Even dusted the fucking ceiling fan blades. Me. Jesus! I finished off with a thorough vacuuming.
As I was doing the carpet in the master bedroom, I opened the closet door and did a quick pass with the sweeper. Something in the corner caught my eye. Suddenly, it all made sense.
I was laughing out loud as I came down the stairway into the livingroom, where the ex was watching television.
"I think I found one of our cockrings!" I announced. I was twirling one of those huge plastic bands from the dry cleaners around an upheld finger as I approached him. "She must have thought I was hung like a horse!" I threw the band, ring-toss style, at him. It landed on his head, looking like a halo.
"Dream on!" he roared, taking the band and fitting it around his fist. "If you were hung like this, I wouldn't want a dildo!"
end of flashback
So, ever since, I keep an eye out for anything even REMOTELY looking like sex stuff and stow it away before the housekeeper arrives. It's just too hard to find good help nowadays.
Now, excuse me, there's an issue of "Grizzly" somewhere around here that's still unaccounted for...