Recently my friend Susan was praising the merits of decluttering and housecleaning, which she said had helped her succeed and create the life she wanted. How boring! In my fantasy life I want a male stripper cleaning up after me, but I didn’t interrupt her tidy enthusiasm.
She said a grubby home affected all aspects of your life, including finances and sex. I’m not sure how that works, unless bank interest rates are linked to neat underwear drawers? As for sex – add the word ‘clean’ to it and it begins to sound like a chore.
She then hands me a copy of ‘The Life–Changing Magic of Tidying’ (Best Seller – 3 Million Copies Sold) and says ‘This book will change your life’. Well it definitely changed our friendship. The book should have been called ‘Tidy-Up You Slob’, which is what my mother tells me every time she visits.
I felt like giving her ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Minding Your Own Business’ (Best Seller by Sonia Aste – Gazillion Copies Sold), but I haven’t written it yet. So instead I just bitched about her to my other friends, which is a lot easier.
I’m not going to lie, there have been a couple of ‘minor incidents’, related to being untidy, like when a box of books fell from the top of the closet causing a slight concussion (OK, two stiches). Or the time I lost my purse, cancelled all my credit cards in a panic only to find it behind the vodka bottles.
But then it’s not like I live in ‘Hoarders Buried Alive’. The only similarity to that is when I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and see a bag lady.
Yes Susan’s house is hyper clean and tidy. It’s so clean the ‘white glove’ test wouldn’t be allowed, unless she washed it first. This is a woman that cleans her Fairy Liquid bottle. In her house even Mr. Muscle has self-doubts.
The thing is Susan enjoys it. She often says ‘Housecleaning gives me a sense of accomplishment’. Accomplishment? For me it’s more like despair, because two days later you have to do it all over again.
Cleaning’s sooo overrated … look at rhinos mating. They don’t let a little mud stop them from getting on the job and to be quite frank when I was a teenager neither did I.
Now take my aunt Carmen – in 2009 her front door was lost behind all her hoarded stuff. She brags that once she made so many online purchases IKEA ran out of stock. I love visiting because she is living proof that happiness has nothing to do with your home looking like the ‘Immaculate Conception’. I’m a Catholic – trust me that’s clean.
So what if I have to clutter-surf to get to the toilet? There’s comfort knowing there’s enough loo rolls for every backside in China and sufficient bars of soap to clean at least one Glastonbury festival goer. Oh! By the way her soap bars are 30 years old. You know what happens to soap that is 30 years old? Nothing. Feels soft and gentle on the skin.
My aunt went through the Spanish Civil war, so all that ‘stuff’ reassures her and gives her joy. She hoards things she desperately needed during those years like coffee, oil, hand grenades. A little scary, but no more terrifying than Susan plastic coating her Chesterfield sofa ‘So it doesn’t get dirty’.
Maybe it’s just a matter of finding a middle ground. Somewhere that’s comfortable, but still leaves you with joy and happiness. I myself have started looking for this tidy medium and as a first step I’m throwing away things I don’t need. First to go ‘‘The Life–Changing Magic of Tidying’ (3 Million copies sold). Minus one.
Sonia Aste is a stand-up comedian who’s home, like her comedy, is relatively clean.