Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cleaning contretemps

I went out for a drink last night. I know, a drink! It felt wildly liberating. I hadn’t realized how long it had been until I did it. Walking down the street at night on my own, meeting a friend, sitting at the bar…It all came back to me surprisingly easily. In fact before I knew it I was halfway through a bottle of vinho verde and it was 10.30.

Anyway, that’s not really my point. My point is that I got home in a fabulous mood which only got better when the hubby announced he’d booked a cleaning lady to come today (a cleaning lady – such luxury!) and we were having a lovely chat until he mentioned The Shopping List.

Ah, The Shopping List. For those non-New Yorkers among you, The Shopping List is something every cleaner here has. It almost always features Ajax, bleach and ream upon ream of kitchen roll and your cleaner is within his/her rights to refuse to clean your house unless his/her exact specifications are met (at least, that's how they make you feel). It's been so long since I've had a cleaning lady I'd forgotten about it.

“I have to go and buy her a load of cleaning products in the morning,” he said. "She needs Ajax, Fantastik with bleach, toilet cleaner, Windex and kitchen roll."

“Er, no you don’t,” I said matter-of-factly. “We have all that Seventh Generation and Babyganics stuff, and she can use white vinegar for the windows.”

What happened next was weird. “I am not going to tell her to wash the windows with vinegar,” he exploded. “It’s not fair.”

I was a bit taken aback. I mean, it’s not as if I’ve been particularly quiet about my stance on cleaning products - you'd think he'd have noticed by now. Then it got weirder.

“Freya, she can’t do her job without this stuff. It’s like if I took your computer away and told you to do your job. She barely speaks English, she’ll be trying to clean with your crappy products and worrying if she’s doing a good job. It’s not fair on her. I won’t do it.”

See how he did that? Sometimes it’s really annoying having a sweet empathetic husband - one always come off looking like the b*%$h in the house. But I’ve been playing this game too long to fall for that one.

“Do you know women who stay at home have an 80% higher rate of breast cancer than those who go to work and it’s because of those cleaning products? And you want to expose Dot to this stuff because you won’t stand up to the cleaner? Blame me, tell her your wife is crazy, I don’t care, but I'm not having it,” I said - my turn to be all righteous and indignant. “And anyway, the products aren’t crap.”

“Yes they are. I want the house to feel clean. I want my oven shiny not all full of crusty shit,” he said, and then played his trump card. “If you want to clean the oven with baking powder that's fine but you do the cleaning.”

It's so boring when he does that. He knows I'm finding it hard to keep body and soul together and am indeed doing as much cleaning as I can muster on an almost full time job, mum-stuff, making Dot's food and five hours sleep a night and have devloped acne and a spare tyre as a result. (He does the same thing about the laundry. "If you don't want all your woolens shrunk to Dot-size, you do the laundry." Well, yes darling, but WHEN? And in case you're wondering, I write this on the subway these days so that's not a solution.) He flounced off to bed. We rolled to opposite sides of the mattress and went to sleep in frosty silence.

By this morning he’d mellowed. “Give me a list of what I have to get then and I’ll go,” he said grudgingly.

At lunchtime I called home to find out how things had gone. “Oh fine,” he said insouciantly. “She said she really likes Ecover products.”

And this evening? The house looked lovely. The lovely cleaner had been completely accommodating and was Dot's NBF. And the hubby was passing the Ecover off as his idea.

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At 4:54 PM , Blogger Amelia said...

Very funny!

At 5:07 AM , Anonymous Kyla said...

good on you for sticking to your guns. I find the 'if you dont like it then you do it' comments SO tiresome. and a bit passive agressive don't you think?


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