Clean Living

Mt. OtisBadBlood suggested a new bar.

I, by nature, am reluctant to change. My roots dig in when I find a place I like. I lived in the same house for eighteen years before overstaying my welcome at the University of Missouri. The only place I ever lived and left happily was Jackson, Mississippi. During the Civil War, Union troops were so happy about leaving Jackson, they threw a party and burned the place. I was close to doing the same.

I’ve been working on my roots, working to convince them it’s okay to let go every once in a while. As a guy who hits the same bars as often as he can, I convinced myself to go happily when Blood suggested an after-work drink at a new place up the road. I got there first. Bartenders Carlie and Katie greeted me with a handshake. Bethany came later and made sure my name ended with a “d” instead of a “t.” As the new joint in town, it was clear they were working to learn customers’ names. The real test for them will come when we go back. Regardless, it’s odd to help a bartender learn my name when it will be of little use to her in a few months.

As expected, our conversation turned to my impending departure from G-Vegas and all that’s required to move.

“I hate moving,” I said.

Blood nodded sagely. He’s been through it as a married man. He moved here from Massachusetts about the same time I was lighting a match in Jackson. He told me that he had heard that you can hire crates in the UK to help you pack up all your stuff when you move and we wondered if there was an alternative over here. I told him how my wife had a different contractor on the schedule every day of the week. Painting, flooring, landscaping. They’re all things that have to be updated or cleaned up before we can sell Mt. Otis. I hate every second of it and am glad it’s the kind of thing that tickles my wife’s organizational obsessions. We still need to organize storage pickup and delivery too, which I am not looking forward to it.

Blood looked at me seriously over his glass. “Your house will look better than it ever has. It will be clean…all the time. And you won’t get to enjoy it at all.”

A few months ago, I suggested to the wife that we should have friends over every week. “We only clean the house when we’re having company,” I said. Note to my friends who are newly married: saying “we” doesn’t protect you from a wife who will hear, “You never clean the house.” You might as well have called her lazy and asked how she enjoyed the “Guiding Light” marathon.

The simple fact is, we’re not tidy people. I only clean when I get mad. Thank goodness I have a window cleaning robot otherwise they would be a mess. The result is about ten years of accumulated clutter and undone projects. Now, it’s all going to get done and in the time that it usually takes us to get up the gumption to clean the upstairs bathrooms. It’s pretty bad really…I’ve been warned about how unhygienic it is and the possible pest infestations, which would result in us having to call Terminix Rhode Island to get rid of the irritating critters, but I just don’t listen.

And I won’t get to enjoy it at all. The walls will all get new paint, the floors will look great, and all the dead trees and bushes will be replaced by something pretty. I don’t know why I keep thinking of Pygmalion, but I do.

And so now, my day begins with my wife barking at me to print out her to-do lists and accumulated contractor estimates. At lunch time, there is a status meeting during which I update my calendar to let me know when the next guy is going to come and tell me how much I’ll owe him to make my house pretty for someone else. This would all be exceptionally annoying except for the fact that my wife gets off on it and it frees me up to say, “Just tell me how much it’s going to cost” and get back to wondering how good the Chinese food really is in Toronto.

My favorite part of the day is when the contractors offer, “You know, we can do that, but I think we can do it in another way that’s going to save you some money.” It reminds me of the night several years ago my buddy G-Rob convinced a wide variety of people to do shots of Jim Beam with the simple assertion, “It’s lemony.”

It stands to drive a wall between the wife and me. It’s exceptionally hard for me to care what this house will look like in six months. It’s like giving a damn whether a girl gets a boob autimore when you know she’s going to break up with you at the end of the semester. So, when the wife asks me what I think about “this color” and “that shade,” I have a hard time not glazing over and wondering how hard it would be to win Powerball tonight. I appreciate all my wife is doing. I just don’t care. There’s very little way for that to not get misinterpreted.

That night at the bar, the assembled bartenders told us they’d see us next time. We waved and said we’d be back. We will. In the meantime, though, I’m not going to wonder what color the girls will be wearing next week.

Being a short-timer sucks.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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4 Responses

  1. Su says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if someone from HGTV just came in and did it all for you?????

  2. Bam-Bam says:

    “the kind of thing that tickles my wife’s organizational obsessions.”


    I need to re-adjust my home target range! We gotta’ get her closer to Pebbles! Just so you and I can have some quality time together.


  3. BadBlood says:

    We’re refinancing our home and getting some cash back at closing. The wife wants to use some of the $$ to get new carpet. She’s already shown me samples.

    Over the course of our marriage, I’ve determined that the 20-30 seconds of pretending to be interested is +EV.

    1. Ask “What do you think?”
    2. Agree.

  4. Katitude says:

    There are 3 (or is it 4) Chinatowns in Toronto. Good Chinese we have, my friend.

    I too only clean when people are coming over. That being said, can’t wait to have you guys over for dinner *grin.