When I was a kid, there was a sign on the wall of the YMCA that admonished “Be ye clean”, citing the prophet Isaiah. To me the connotation was that one should shower regularly, as that was where we went to swim in a pool and play athletic games on an indoor basketball court, lift weights, et cetera, and we were always sweaty and made to shower before getting into the pool - - which had to be done naked. In those days you could still pick out people by their religion simply by looking at their penises. Jewish penises all looked like some little guy in a turtle neck sweater. Be Ye Clean has a broad range of concept applications in addition to personal administration, but for a kid, occasional bathing is about all he can deal with.
As Newt Gingrich is wont to say, “Men are pigs”. A man who was fastidious about his person was thought to be odd. The rest of us normal people really loved to go out on long camping trips, living in dirt, washing only when/if we came upon a stream or lake. Newt’s observation came during a polemic about why women should not be serving in combat, as their dainty anatomy was subject to various maladies if not regularly scrubbed or swamped out, depending on what part of them one might be discussing.
If “Dust I am and to dust I shall return”, then the obviousness of male dirtiness as a modus vivendi accommodates our essential genesis. God intended that men be pigs, that we be sweaty and smelly and grunt and fart, pick our noses and scratch our unwashed crotches in public. In the United States, selling remedies for jock itch is a $ 45,000,000 business. And Europeans are a lot dirtier than we are. No wonder women like being close to us so much! Opposites attract, right? Males have to be schooled in cleanliness as a curriculum. Texas A&M University was established so that farm and ranch boys could have a place to attend a school where the instruction was relevant to their lives. In the early history of the University, a freshman’s first semester was almost entirely devoted to personal hygiene. Girls are taught by their mothers from early childhood that boys are dirty and that a good girl is always clean and smells like a flower. I grew up in the bath powder generation, when girls all smelled of scented bath power. When I would occasionally come across a girl who smelt and tasted like a girl should, it was lust at first sniff. A young tumescent girl is my idea of perfection.
One of the ways that I know to corroborate the notion that males are ordained by God to be dirty is to observe what happens to men who, though they may engage in some physical exercise, like to “wash up” afterward. An excellent example of this suggestion would be that group of disgusting men who put on Italian spandex stretch pants and other off looking stuff and pedal bicycles around town. They are a disgusting and obstructive element on the street, with entitlement attitudes about others having to give them space and deference. They are punished for their evil by their riding habits being such that blood flow to their penises is obstructed by those elastic pants and a riding position that compresses their genitalia, leading to erectile dysfunction. If their ways were consonant with the will of our Creator, their ability to procreate would not be circumscribed by what they do and how they do it. All real men loathe and despise these little ponces and would willingly run them down at every opportunity if states would just wise up and declare them an open season. You could then get a yuppie mayhem license at your local sporting goods store and ride around with one of the sumbitches sprawled across your hood/bonnet or car roof just like we do with deer.
One of the lacunae in our small business universe is that we lack person pairing mentoring that is focused upon matching the reasonably clean but sometimes neglectful with the not quite obsessive compulsive clean freak. Our love/lust matching Internet facilities are very much into height, weight, cultural and other tastes, education levels, race, religion, smoker, drinker pairings, seeking similarities as the catalyst for potential relationship establishment. In my never humble opinion, personal hygienic protocols should also be accounted for. I don’t for a minute believe that an extremely OC (obsessive-compulsive) person should ever be paired with anyone. I am speaking about people within “normal ranges” of personal attentiveness and neglect. I base this upon my experience with Belinda.
Belinda is the very soul of neat, clean, orderly, attentive, focused, competence. Everything that she does in life is done to a level of exquisite excellence. She is that way by nature, and she has been endowed by her Creator with talents and skills far beyond measure. I, on the other hand, have narrow areas in which I can manage to be worthwhile for short periods of time (that thank God are areas that she finds useful), but am otherwise neither prime nor choice. I am certain that if Belinda were paired with someone just like herself, mayhem would ensue. And were I to be paired with another such as I, the neighborhood association manager would be sending out standards default letters at least once a month. Our neighborhood association is managed by a large Wagnerian woman of Teutonic lineage whose delight in life is to augment her inventory of standardized form letters memorializing the shortcomings of residents within the realm of her governance. Start a week later than she feels is appropriate to initiate spring cleaning of one’s yard gets one the Yard Nazi notice. If the sun caused the veneer, paint, lacquer, varnish on any portal of your home that is visible from the street to fade or flake, diminishing the “curb appeal”, a dilapidation report is promptly dispatched. Each offense against the appearance standards of the association, which are really loosely stated, results in a default notice, assigning a cure period after which the association will send in its own hit squad to remediate at your expense. All this is as provided in deed restriction agreements to which one must subscribe as a condition of being allowed to own property here.
I was the most punished cadet at The Citadel for being a bloody disgrace to the regiment, and my need for supervision has not diminished with years. Belinda is the platoon sergeant of my dreams, who leads by example but is not above being somewhat direct when my sloth exceeds her tolerances. To be sure, we are excellently paired as well in the criteria that are employed by the love matching Internet services, but I think that life would not be as effectively paradisiacal were we other than as we are in this category. It is need fulfillment. She would not be happy without someone who needed supervision. I would not be happy without someone like her to guide me in the right paths. For what is a teacher without a student? Few students excel if only self taught.
You could perhaps best appreciate the level of excellence that is expected around here by reference to the cat management manual that Belinda has provided for me upon the occasions of her absences for business trips. She did this as a courtesy to me and at my request, so that I might have easy reference to information I would not be memorizing. This is how really competent people approach getting something done right. This manual is always a mouse click away, updated for each trip, and I reproduce it here for your edification and delectation.
INSTRUCTIONS TO BOZO
RE CARE OF CATS IN BELINDA’S ABSENCE
Dr. Martin’s Telephone Number - 713 777 0543
Feed Cowboy and Little Girl in their room. Food is in the closet. Don’t over feed them. Clean box in their room. Leave them locked in their room for about 30 minutes after they eat for a nap.
Clean 5 other Cat Boxes. Open the door on the kitties’ bathroom when Cowboy & Little Girl are locked up. Close the door when they are out.
Feed Mama Kitty Soft Fancy Feast Chicken. Refill the hard food with outside cat food.
Feed Booger & Bubba soft food (CD). Feed Bubba Seafood CD – Then feed them hard food after kitties in backyard are fed.
Feed Sweetie Pie (Science Diet Maintenance) hard food in the bedroom
Feed Ace, Zorro & Precious soft Fancy Feast chicken. Lock Ace in garage to eat soft food.
Add Food in garage – outside cat food, hairball food & Kitten food.
Add water to all outside water bowls. Make sure water is cool for Ace
Lock up Blue, Ace, Precious & Zorro – Make sure fan/heater or Brooder lights are on and working if needed.
Uncover 2 litter boxes in garage
Before going to bed – lock Cowboy & Little Girl in their room. Feed them a little. Be sure they have water for the night. Open door of Kitty bathroom for Booger, Bubba & Sweetie Pie to use during the night.
Clean Cat Boxes
Change water in master bedroom
Feed Mama Kitty Fancy Feast Chicken & Outside cat food – Change water
Feed Booger & Bubba soft food (CD) – Feed Sweetie Pie Chicken Iams soft food
Feed Ace, Zorro & Precious - soft food – Fancy Feast Chicken
Feed Ace, Blue, Zorro & Precious – Outside cat food, hairball food & Kitten food
Change water in garage – ice and water for Ace
Clean and cover 2 garage litter boxes
Feed Booger & Bubba hard food (CD) and feed Sweetie Pie hard food
Change the water in the frog bowl
Spray water for Ace to lick off leaves (give Ace a spray also) Just throw water from the water pitcher on the leaves.
Then feed Cowboy & Little Girl Hard Kitten chow in their room. Food is in their closet. Refill the water bowl in their room. Clean box in their room.
Leave them locked in their room for about 15 minutes so they can eat breakfast.
Give Bubba, Booger & Sweetie Pie a snack. 6 pieces each of their hard food on the rug where you first walk in the master bath. Snack time is right before you let Cowboy & Little Girl out of their room.
Nuff said, huh! But if you keep all those pets and do anything less, your home would be uninhabitable. These are minimalist instructions, considering the situation. They don’t even begin to deal with cats throwing up or missing a litter box once and a while or getting hurt or sick (which is why the vet’s phone number is at the top of the list). They also don’t deal with the psychodynamics of Belinda’s absence. The cats spend most of the time looking for her and looking accusingly at me as if to ask what I did to drive Belinda off. It takes at least four days to get over that little issue and to so ingratiate meself with the kitties that they forgive me for Belinda’s absence.
And of course what I do when she’s away is nothing like how she does it, even if it’s the same thing that she does. Belinda is the ultimate master of orderliness, even to the point of being able to train a cat to go “stand in your place” when it’s feeding time. I didn’t think it humanly possible to train house cats to do anything, much less to comply with summarily spoken orders of micromanagement. But it is nothing special for my Goddess In A Bodice to command felines and have them obey. And if they obey, can I do less? When recently she suggested that she might enjoy a second career, I mentioned that she would be a great success in Las Vegas with her trained cat show. It could be called Siegfried & Belinda.
The compliance level expected by Belinda regarding the above is somewhat high, considering the quality of its performance were it to be done by her. Illustratively, we used to have cleaning help around here, but the aggravation of paying them for the privilege of their underperformed assignments was terminated just prior to the onset of physical violence. This occurred upon the agreement amongst us to share these duties and just do it ourselves. To be sure, my side of the bargain was insufficiently performed, and, but for the kitchen, was taken over by Herself. Now Belinda does everything but the kitchen, and the place is ready for white gloved inspection on five minutes notice, but for the kitchen. At least four hours notice is required for the kitchen inspection. The ultimate dividend is that living with someone like Belinda inevitably produces a net qualitative improvement in my performance of just about everything, lest by comparison with her, I might simply disappear from view. Living with Belinda must be something like playing golf with Tiger Woods. You just do the best you can and hope that at the end of the day you’re still in the hunt.
One way in which my composure can be preserved is that there are two rooms that are “mine”. In these two rooms the standards of maintenance are somewhat more moderate, with occasional requests that I give some thought to remediation of conditions lest the public health and safety inspectors start showing up at our door. These requests are always couched in humorous terms, the range of expression calculated to elicit a smile, albeit a smile that bespeaks a compliant attitude. Tension rears its head when there is common use of essential facilities, such as the shower in the master bathroom. The shower is newly minted, a complete redo that is a truly lovely treatment of a bathing facility, opposed by a wall of small tiled artistry that suggests bathing outdoors or in some suitable rustic and arboreal setting. I think of it as a Zen wall. It has a heavy clear glass sliding entry door that in the bathroom of most folks would show water spots or – God Save Us – possibly a touch of mildew. It remains in appearance as it was immediately following its having been installed and first cleaned to spotless presentation beauty. No one could tell that it has ever been used. I would only aggravate Belinda were I to try to clean the shower after I use it. There is my clean. Above that is clean. Above that is ultimate clean. Above that is Belinda clean.
Recently I am recovering from two trauma events that involve the subject of this story. It is likely that these events are the reasons why I’m writing this – a catharsis if you will, something to help me retrieve my personhood and reinstate meself in the brotherhood of worthy men.
The first occurred a few weeks ago when I was taking a shower. Everything was going along smoothly. I had washed all the needy parts and was about to go through the final general rinse off, happy as a clam, when all of a sudden I sneezed a great sneeze. When I got meself sorted out, I thought it best that I conduct a quick survey for stray boogers that may have been fired off in the process. I knew that some had indeed left the arsenal that is otherwise known as me nostrils. When I was done with my survey, I had a premonition that somehow I had missed at least one, so I did the survey again. But I was still apprehensive that upon coming to clean the shower, Belinda might find a stray and be horrified that I had the audacity to sneeze in the shower. I became paranoid that there was some unseen excrescence stuck to encrustation upon the clear glass shower door, and that it would start to blink on and off like a big red hazard light that I had failed to find and expunge. This horror stuck in my psyche for days, and I knew that at the slightest missed step I would hear about what I had put her through at that moment when she encountered there upon the shower door that which should never have been there in the first place, let alone allowed to remain and be found as though spitefully left. I must be losing it! Why would I have such awful fears? Is there nothing else in creation that I have to be apprehensive about, so that I manufactured this absurd angst over a mere phantom morsel of snot?
The second event occurred only yesterday, when High Fibre Hoffman came over to offer two loaves of his exquisitely made bread that he bakes each Friday in anticipation of our regular Friday evening social amongst the four of us, High Fibre, Belinda, High Fibre’s wife and meself. Yesterday I had to cancel at the last minute because of a personal emergency, but he brought the bread offering nonetheless and shared a story or two over a glass of wine before returning home. Belinda was feeding the cats and washing their dishes in the kitchen sink when it occurred to her that the status of the sinks was unsatisfactory. Now I knew those sinks needed attention, but procrastinator that I am, they were expected to wait unnoticed until the weekend. Isn’t that about the most ridiculous excuse you ever heard for sinks remaining inadequately attended to? I sensed that she was taking an inordinate amount of time to wash cat dishes, and when I looked over in her direction, there she was in grand and operatic style removing everything from the sinks that can be removed in preparation for a major cleansing overhaul. And there ensued a several minute long labor of remediation that would of course produce surgically hygienic cleanliness in and around all sinks. Every few minutes I saw her out of the corner of my eye glancing in my direction to be certain that I had taken notice of that which I was then putting her through and that would be inscribed upon the list of obligations for which one must eventually atone. Somehow I must find some method of self flagellation that is not obviously sexual. She will never believe I am punishing myself if there is a look of enormous joy and satisfaction on my face.
Just the act of writing this has been an expiation of sorts. I feel more relaxed now than I have in days. Thanks for listening.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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