Friday, April 3, 2009

Burning Down the House

I’ve been doing some housecleaning this morning trying to get prepared to leave and go back to sunny southern California. I am looking forward to going home to my dogs and my kids but I am also sad to leave. Housecleaning always reminds me of my mother. Every day we had specific chores we were instructed to perform. We could not just perform them the way we thought they needed to be done. We had to do them just exactly as Nurse Meme instructed or you would have to re-do your job. She demanded perfection from everyone, including herself.

I guess my best example of my mother’s penchant for perfection was vacuuming. We had plush carpet in a very light almost white grey. Now normally you would grab the vacuum run it across the floor until you could no longer see any fuzz, dirt or dust bunnies and you would be done right? Well we were not dealing with a normal housekeeper with Nurse Meme. She was Super Housekeeper. She didn’t have an ‘S’ on her chest she had a ‘C’ for Clean. She was the Queen of Clean. I have always said that my mother’s house was so clean you could eat off the toilet seats; yes it really was that clean. I digress. So when you would vacuum the floor you first had to push the vacuum all in one direction so that you had a pattern going east and west. Then you could not leave any streaks so you would then push and pull the vacuum north and south erasing the east and west streaks. Only now you had north and south streaks so you would go back to east and west and this would repeat until finally you would heft the vacuum over your head and toss it out the nearest window. The only problem was you couldn’t open the windows. The windows were all sealed shut to allow in as little dust as possible. The fireplace was capped off and the house was hermetically sealed. So you see the complete and total insanity of cleaning house with my mother.

I’ve told you all of this to tell you about the time Trooper Bob and I almost burned down the kitchen which resulted in Trooper Bob being banned from Sears.

I was in my early 20’s and my dad had taken on a new hobby. Home brewing beer. One bright and cheery fall day my dad and I put the big kettle on the stove and waved goodbye Nurse Meme as she left for work. We poured the hops and the barley and bubbled it all up then let it simmer on the stove. We both went off to do something very important like watch the end of the college football game and eat popcorn. Trooper Bob looked at me and said “I wonder who is barbequing? It sure smells good.” I took a big sniff of the air and said it smelled like a wood burning smoker more than barbeque. We watched a little bit more football and I said “Daddy, my eyes sure are burning must be allergies” as I wiped my eyes and looked across a hazy living room. He looked back at me then towards the kitchen. We both realized it was coming from the kitchen and jumped up banging into each other. The scene from there on out was like a scene from the Keystone cops.

We bumped into one another knocking each other in opposite directions. I headed to the kitchen from one door and him from the other. Then seeing the smoke billowing from under the counter of the built in stove I grabbed the pan without any pot holders. TB flung the cabinet doors open and started letting the smoke billow out. I was trying to find a place to sit an oversized Vat of bubbling brew screaming “hot, hot, hot” and he was climbing under the cabinet with the extinguisher to make sure there aren’t any flames. Luckily we had caught it in time. The pot was too big for the old fashioned electric stove element and had radiated the heat back down into the cabinet scorching the wood. Unfortunately we had ruined Nurse Meme’s stove.

TB and I did our best to clean up our mess. We scrubbed and wiped and did all we could including pulling out the stove top. Trooper Bob left me there to tend to the hops that we had now put on a make shift propane burner in the back yard while he went to purchase a brand new stove top.

TB entered the Sears and Roebuck appliance department and found the cook top that Nurse Meme had been coveting. He pulled out his wallet and sorrowfully parted with the large amount of dollars it would take to make amends. Since he had the box in hand or better said in shopping basket he went towards the front door. That is when the store clerk stopped him. “Sir you can’t take that out through the front door. You have to leave it here and pick it up at ‘will-call’.” Trooper Bob stood there looking at the young man then said “Son, that’s just pure bullshit. I have bought and paid for this damn cooktop and I’m walking out of here with it.” I won’t go into the details but let’s just say that store security was involved as well as management. Trooper Bob left through the front door with his purchase. He departed with the whole store contingent watching as he said “I’ll be gawd-damned if I ever step foot in this store again”. The only problem was the management had already told him it would be best if he purchased his appliances elsewhere from then on.

Nurse Meme arrived home late that evening. Trooper Bob the big chicken had already retired for the evening leaving me to wait for the fall-out. Nurse Meme came in and the first thing she said as she entered the kitchen was “What in the hell happened here? Who destroyed my kitchen?” Now honestly the kitchen had been put back together, the countertops scrubbed, the new stove top put into place. I confessed the whole thing to her and told her we had cleaned to her specifications. She saw none of that she instead saw the saw dust and smoke residue that I had missed on the top of the cabinet doors and refrigerator. Then she walked into the living room and said “Who left streaks in the carpet?”


Girly Stuff said...

I am pretty sure it is official. We are Cousins or something. Because my grandmother was:

1. A nurse until the 60's or early 70's
2. A nutjob clean freak who cleaned the bathroom EVERY morning. With chemicals. On her hands and knees. Before 7am.
3. Painted all of her windows shut so they could never be opened.

And she liked everything right where it should be. And she raked her shag carpet to keep it streakless.

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

Oh lawd, don't tell she hung every piece of clothing in a separate plastic baf and had these cuff things for the closet rods to keep the clothes perfectly spaced apart...if so, then we are related too. But then I didn't fall far from the tree :-s

rachaelgking said...

My bathroom hasn't been cleaned in... um, too long... thanks for the reminder...

Suzy said...

That blood type of yours is insane. You're a rare one, all right. Thanks for stopping by and reminding me of all the things I CAN'T do!!

The Texas Woman said...

I bet y'all had plastic slipcovers on the couch, didn't ya?

The Texas Woman

Gladys said...

Cher- No, we didn't that would mean would actually be allowed to sit on the couch. If you sit on the couch that squeeshes the pillows and that was not allowed.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I confess to having a lot in common with your mother.

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