That’s because I cleaned The Diva’s room.
It’s been a long time since it’s been done by a professional. Sure, every Friday she’s given the task of doing it herself, and each week, it’s pulled off with relatively few mumbled complaints, more than a few garbage bags, a pair of sterilized metal tongs and one of those space suits that doctors from the CDC wear when working around the ebola virus.
For too many years, I obsessed about the disastrously frightening condition of The Diva’s room, stealing away whenever she wasn’t around to clean up and organize, only not so well that she’d actually notice. I could take off her dirty sheets, wash them, then put them back on in the same lumpy mess as before.
But My Lovely Wife was the voice of reason. “Just close the door,” she said in that stern yet sweet way that keeps me from feeling like a total freak. “It’s her room. If that’s the way she wants to live, fine. We don’t ever have to go in there. It’s her way of exercising freedom … even if that means living in a pig sty.”
But that doesn’t count when The Diva’s gone. As the old saying goes, “When the kid’s away, the parents will clean.” Granted, it doesn’t exactly have that Mother Goose nursery rhyme-vibe, but you get the point.
I started planning my excavation with the same excitement that keeps kids awake on Christmas Eve. The Diva was spending two weeks with her dad (she’s my stepdaughter … not that I actually like making the distinction), leaving her room unguarded. The sooner it was cleaned, the longer it would remain unspoiled. The same goes for her bathroom … seriously, how hard is it to drop a Q-Tip in the trash can when it’s 33 inches away in a bathroom the size of a prison cell?
Like Indiana Jones, I entered with caution, keeping an eye out for booby traps and buried treasure — of the restriction-earning kind. With all honesty, I had no intention of reading secret notes, scanning her countless journals or bugging her room to find out what in blue blazes she found to talk about on the phone for endless hours — not to mention what all the giggling was about.
My Dear, Sweet Mother would “clean” on occasion. The only time she ever found anything was when I flooded the bathroom and the plumber had to pull up the carpet, uncovering a cache of swimsuit magazines.
Truth be told, I was doing both myself and The Diva a favor. I thought it would be nice for her to come home after a long trip to a room that didn’t look like an Abercrombie & Fitch exploded in it. And I wouldn’t break out into a rash each time I passed by the closed door, knowing the nastiness that lurked inside.
I vacuumed, dusted, Febreezed, changed the sheets, washed and folded clothes, organized, lit candles and held an exorcism. What’s sad is that I actually enjoyed it. What’s worse is that 20 minutes after The Diva gets home, it’ll look like I was never there.
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com.