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The Hapless Househusband; ODD (Obsessive Domestic Disorder...)
No one goes into anything with the slightest clue that it will prey upon the weaker parts of their personality. It was not part of my plan to become obsessive, but househusbanding has me going nuts over putting stuff away. Normally, i.e. when working, if stuff is in the general vicinity of its intended location, I'm a happy guy.
I think it is because I now see "put away" as the measure of completion; the elusive, “job done” status. Washing up is "done" when everything is sitting neatly in its assigned drawer or cupboard, and the dishwasher is empty. Likewise, laundry is completed when the clothes are hanging or folded and put in their proper places, and the laundry bins are empty.
All very logical.
But there is a serious flaw in thinking like this.
There is always something that needs to be washed. Even if you scour the house from top to bottom beforehand, after your last load you will find a sock, a pillowcase, or an unwashed glass. It taunts you by having escaped your eagle eyes, pointing out by it's very existence, that you are utterly crap at your job.
Now, those who know me well, know that I have always tended towards the slightly obsessive. My colleagues would watch in wonder, as I, almost on autopilot, would straighten the chairs in their classroom. Students or no students. An assembly with five hundred chairs would keep me happily occupied for hours.
But, even so, I'm not exactly Adrian Monk.
Not yet, anyway.
One of my first clues that things may not be going well in the overall mental health department, was my annoyance at finding several Christmas things after carefully de-christmasing the house. I’m a normally laid back guy, slow to anger, and prone to both forget and forgive.
I hated those two towels and the little painted Christmas house more than you can imagine.
A few more months in the home could tip me right on over the edge.
I blame my dad. It was his adage of, "the job's not done 'till the tools are cleaned and put away," that ran, as a mantra, throughout my childhood. Good advice for normal people; the start of the slippery slope for me.
And for him, as it turns out. He obsessed about water spots on the stainless steel sink in the kitchen, thus it was wiped dry and polished every time the faucet was turned on.
Remember, we are English. This means that we are either drinking tea, boiling the kettle for a cup of tea, or washing out the teacups, at every given moment. Two out of those three activities involved turning the water on, and so, was therefore followed by energetic wiping by my dad.
It got worse. Choosing a tile for the bathroom, in a fit of strange, my parents chose high gloss tile that had drops of water pictured in the glaze. Very pretty as it turns out, but remember the tiles were to never get wet, and thus when dry, leave behind a white crust. Having a shower involved more time drying the tiles than getting them wet in the first place, plus you got so hot and sweaty you needed, you know, another shower.
All this was due to hard water; the archenemy of shine. Strange name that, hard water. Before it comes into the house leaving evil deposits on and around everything, I wonder if it hangs out on the corner with its gang. Smoking one last cigarette on the pillion of its motorcycle, cleaning its nails with an oversized hunting knife, eying the locals with evil intent. Anyway, I digress...
So, obsessive behavior...
I get caught up with the email thing too. I publish a hub, and it should give me a small sense of satisfaction, but no...I have to check the emails to see if anyone has been kind enough to respond. If you check the stats button, and you get the "insufficient data" message, more than once (ever) you know exactly what I mean. That stupid "ding" is like a lifesaver to a drowning man. No matter what I'm doing, I have to look. And get sidetracked by yet another chance to make gazillions from the comfort of my own computer.
And this particular weakness is ripe for exploitation in the househusbanding realm. Carpets are only clean if you can see the pretty fan patterns and absolutely no footprints. A meal cannot be comfortably digested until the plates are in the dishwasher.
(Oh yes, I rinse before putting the stuff in- really, have you ever tested to see how dirty they could be put in and still come out clean? No, you simply don't trust the machine, or the goo you put in, do you?)
She-who-is-adored is working, and thus perfectly OK with the "in the general vicinity" idea. Something out of place is not an affront to her every fiber. She does reassure me that when she was at home with two little boys, this was an issue for her, which reassures me that she understands my plight. But it also adds to my loser state of mind. She did all this with two highly energetic boys added to the equation. I am so not worthy.
Some very dear hubbers from the female camp have assured me that the perfect home is in fact, a product of the smoke and mirrors department, and are perfectly ok with doing what they can, when they feel like it.
I need to be more laid back, I know that, but I just plumped up the cushions...
Dear Hub Reader
If you enjoy this hub, please check out my book,
Homo Domesticus; A Life Interrupted By Housework,
A collection of my best writings woven into a narrative on a very strange year in my life.
Available directly from: