It's not about the house.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

No Rest for the Sole

The bottoms of my socks are always brown. See?

And it’s not like I don’t keep a clean house. Honestly. It’s just that—

Okay, fine. I don’t keep a clean house. I used to, before we lived here, but at some point over the last four years I seem to have thrown in the towel. And the soap. And the detergent and cleanser and cleaner and powder and paste and wax and bleach.

I think what happened was, I got so accustomed to living in a construction zone that I ceased to notice. After all, isn’t the distinction between sawdust and dust-dust essentially semantic, really? Plus, the sawdust-and-fiberglass, sandpaper-and-little-wire-bits mess that we lived in for so long (and are starting to, again) was, by hands-down default, much less gorge-rising than the AssVac’s move-in state – about which, let's just say: when the going got tough, the spores hunkered down in the detritus.

But still, it’s true: if you walked in here unannounced these days, you’d probably be embarrassed for me. Although I would like to point out that it is not dirty so much as generally cluttered. Things piled on tables and in corners. Things like oh, I don’t know, cobwebs. Cat toys. Random shit that Johnny pulled out from where it really goes and didn’t put away.

Also (and I know this will shock you, but) sometimes I leave stuff around as well.

And okay, sometimes it’s just plain dirty. There, I said it. Are you happy? I tend to dust only for company – expected company – and we tend to have that only on St. Patrick’s Day and the 4th of July. But I do mop. I do! Not as often as I should, perhaps. Not every week – or even, let’s be honest, every other – but not so infrequently that your socks should turn brown in the two hours between when you kick off your shoes at the end of the day and when you go to bed.

I got really anal about it for a little while this past fall. I threw out all my old, brown-stained socks, bought new packages of white ones, and mopped the entire house with a fresh bucket for each room. Did it every weekend for a while. Still didn’t dust, but man, those floors were clean.

And yet, my socks turned brown. So I sent the mop back down to the reserves to be called upon one weekend a month, except in a state of emergency.

I more or less admitted defeat and tried to put the whole thing from my mind. So all my white socks have brown soles, so what? They’re clean, I know they’re clean, and isn’t that the thing that really matters? Nobody’s ever going to see them anyway, except for Johnny, and his are probably just as brown as mine.

Except they’re not.

One day this winter, when it was really stormy-blowy and I just knew my Lady would request I take my snowy boots off at her door, I actually went in to Johnny’s sock drawer. He’d gotten two packs of nice fresh socks from Santa, and I knew for a fact he had not yet worn them all. I’d rob a new pair off him, wear ’em, wash ’em, and put ’em back before he ever knew that they were gone.

But when I looked in his sock drawer, all of Johnny’s socks were snowy-white! How could that be? He can get a little heavy-handed with the bleach when he does his delicates, but I’ve tried going that route with my footwear, too. All it does is thin the color to a washed-out grey. No, Johnny’s socks had not gone brown and bleached again, and I knew they weren’t all brand-new. At least some of these socks had been worn, and stayed pristine.

Is it my feet? Am I a perpetual slough of toxic chemicals like you see on those heretofore-considered-bullshit late-night commercials for Kabuki foot pads (or whatever they’re called)? If you opened me up, would you find lots of tiny Mr. Yuckmouths running through my veins? The idea scared me enough to give the mop another go.

Maybe he doesn’t go sock-feet as often as I do, I thought as the bucket filled, and I just never noticed it before. It’s the floor, I thought, it has to be the floor.

But room by room, bucket by bucket, the water came up clean (see? even with the mop on reserve-schedule the house is really not that bad). I was just about to give up and call the Kabuki people, tell them they’ve never seen such poison as I leech out from my feet and they’d better ship me out a truckload—when I started mopping in the final room.

This room, that is. My office.

What had been a brand-clean bucket turned instantly a muddy gray. And I remembered.

When we first moved in, and for about two years, I slept in what is now the spare bedroom. Before setting anything up in there, I spent three days washing that floor on my hands and knees before I realized the dinge that would not stop appearing in the bucket was in fact not dirt, but rather the color coming off the lovely lino floor.

We put rugs down to hide it and to protect my mud-brown feet (which were usually bare at the time, since it was summer), and now that it’s a guest room it doesn’t matter much. But somehow, probably because the room that is now my office was piled full of boxes at the time, I never grokked the notion that I’ve got that same poo-brown floor in here.

These days – and for the past year and a half, at least – I wake up, put my socks on (in three seasons out of four) and then spend three hours kicking around the computer before I go to do the work that pays the bills. When I come home, I kick off my shoes and spend another one or two hours seeing what all you people had to say while I was gone. And Johnny doesn’t.

All Johnny ever comes in here for is to get a beer out of the fridge. Which, granted, can happen several times over the course of an evening. But when he’s drinking, he usually wears shoes.

So anyway, after the kitchen and after the roof, but probably before the dining room and certainly before the bulkhead, we’ll take this lino out and have these floors done.

In the meantime, I’ll be putting my spare pennies in the sock market.

Ba-dump BUMP! Oh man, that was a lot of work for a truly awful pun. I'm so sorry.


su said...

Ege try getting something like future or some industrial strength liquid wax that will keep the brown in and off of you and make it easier to mop clean until you rip it up. said...

Wax on. Wax off, Grasshopper

Chris said...

EGE you could always just buy new socks every year!
Actually I can give you socks for X-mas,
ad infinitum...

LadyCiani said...

Is that why my grandmother would wax her floor? I guess I never had a floor that old. And I never knew the wax had a purpose, other than shiny floors.

Then again, she must have hated it, because she had it all covered with carpet when I was really little.

Tara said...

Waxing sounds like a lot of effort, and won't necessarily apply to carpeted or hardwood areas.

Do like I did. Throw out the white socks and buy a bunch of brown ones.

su said...

The new liquid acrylic floor "wax" for vinyl or the like is very easy to apply. No hands and knees. just a rag on a sponge mop or buy a mop for the purpose at the dollar store and toss it. or you can buy a proper applicator.. but it is really a good thing and then you just damp mop many times before washing and re applying.

Janice said...

love your dining room table! its scalloped!

Jennifer said...

That's why I own 20 pairs of identical black socks. That and because I can't seem to keep pairs matched any other way!

Bob said...

Has nothing to do with Johnnie, he is irisn and has no body oils at all!!

EGE said...

Wow! Okay, here goes:

Sorry Mom & ILU, but I'm with LadyCiani on the whole "wax on wax off" debate. I never knew it had a purpose beyond the aesthetic.

I'm also with Tara, though, in the sense that if I can only bring myself to mop once a month as it is, I don't think I see me adding another step to the regimen. What she meant by waxing carpet, though, is anybody's guess. We don't even HAVE carpet.

I'm with Jennifer (and Tara) on the "buy socks to match" idea -- at least until we get the problem fixed. But Chris, sorry, you're still going to have to buy me real presents.

Janice, thanks for noticing the dining room table! I used to have chairs to match but they literally fell apart and I threw them away. Not a wise move, but I was young and there were only two of them, anyway. The table itself is kind of broken right now. Maybe I'll post about that, and the machinations involved in protecting guests from the sharp edges, sometime soon.

And finally, Dad, that's just disGUSTting! Irish have no body oils. Yuck!

su said...

Ege ILU2 but the whole concept of wax it to protect. You wax your car to protect it from wind and weather. You wax your furniture to protect your investment and the finish of the furniture. It wax seals the object involved. A floor with so little traffic would not have to be waxed but once or twice a hear at most. And all things considered, try it once and see.