Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Moment of Paranoia

We all have something, at least one little OCD thing that needles us.  When I was growing up, there was always a TV mom fretting whether she had turned off the iron.  Since I think a lot less ironing goes on these days than it did in 1970s sitcom-land (or, in my house, no ironing), we've diverted our paranoia to other matters.  Did I turn off the coffeemaker?  Did I blow out the candle?  Did I lock the door?

I've been known to leave the door unlocked, both on purpose and by accident, without anxiety.  What fixates my little brain is:  I have people coming over.  Did I clean the bathrooms?

On a day when someone is coming to my house (and today is one of them), I can worry about this off and on all day.  I've never been one to worry about impressing people--even less so as I get older--so when I entertain we are likely to be using melamine, not china and crystal.  When good friends are coming, I certainly don't care whether the house is vacuumed or dusted.  I may even leave dishes in the sink, and will certainly have piles of stuff on my kitchen counter.  However, common decency requires that any bathroom that may be used by your guests should be clean.

I've always (I believe reasonably) felt this way.  It turned into a full fixation a couple years ago when two women I know were discussing how positively disgusting the bathroom of an acquaintance had been when they visited her home.  One mother wouldn't let her two-year-old use the toilet without lining it with toilet paper.  I feel bad for this hostess, who I hope was just having a bad day, but her poor housekeeping has led to my obsessive moment.  What if, God forbid, people talk about my bathroom that way?  And so I worry about whether the bathrooms are clean.

Those of you who do not have small children may question why I don't just clean the bathroom the first time I think of it on the day I'm expecting company.  Those of you who do realize that cleaning a bathroom is a complete waste of time if the kids may use it before the guests arrive.  Those little buggers can pee anywhere in the vicinity of the toilet, and dirt, finger paint and pudding could be smeared all over the sink in the blink of an eye.  So, bathroom cleaning has to be the last thing I do before guests arrive, timed precisely so that the children will not use it again before a guest has the opportunity to enter it.

I guarantee that, in the next 5 1/2 hours before my friends arrive, I will worry about whether the bathrooms are cleaned at least 15 times. I will zippily clean and sanitize them the minute I send the kids up to bed, minutes before the guests are due to arrive.  So, friends, if you are coming over this evening, please wait a few minutes before using the bathroom, as it may still be damp from the disinfecting wipes.  It will be clean, but only recently so.


  1. Should I call you around 7 pm and remind you to check that they are clean?

  2. Also when they get older -- say 11-12 -- they will leave clothes they've shed in the bathroom -- often dirty underwear.

  3. Never worry about me - I've had the lovely experience of using the loo at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Also, if your house is overly sparkling I will worry about the beat up parts of mine that refuse to look like new.