First we had the “Marie Kondo Magic of Tidying Up” to feel guilty about.
Now we are hearing about the “Swedish Death Cleaning” (pretty much the same thing, but morbid.)
In New Orleans, we got “In-Case-of-Hurricane-Cleaning.” We don’t ask, “Does it spark joy?” We ask, “Is it waterproof?”
If you do hurricane cleaning, then every June, when hurricane season starts, you put your fancy gown in a tall plastic trash bag and knot the top. You seal the baby picture albums and insurance papers in a Rubbermaid bin.
My mother-in-law Ms. Larda takes this to a whole new level. She does Xtreme in-case-of-hurricane-cleaning.
This year she was just getting started when she had to have one of them medical “procedures” that you don’t talk about where the grandkids can hear and ask a lot of questions. At least she won’t need Preparation H no more.
She is home, plopped on top a rubber doughnut, and she is so nervous about her hurricane cleaning, I said I’d do it for her.
Pretty soon, I am wishing for that Swedish Death Cleaning. It’s probably easier. The Swedish call it dostadning, which must be the way the Swedish spell “do standing.” I guess they don’t get down on their knees to scrub floors. They got some sense.
Now, when Ms. Larda hurricane cleans, she scrubs everything to within inch of its life, wraps it in plastic, and then puts it as high as possible— on top the refrigerator, high shelf in a closet, in the attic. She only leaves down things that are too big to move, like the sofa, which she covers in plastic, and certain gifts people gave her that might tragically float away: the leopard skin throw cushions; the end table shaped like an American eagle with a tray on its head, the stuffed nutria umbrella stand. Also her stationary bike and exercise mat.
Then in November she takes everything back down, unwraps each one, and rewashes it in case a molecule of dust got through the plastic.
When I store something— like the Drew Brees votive candle I light for every Saints game— I stick it on a top shelf, unwashed and unwrapped. When I take it down, I maybe spray on some Windex if it looks dusty.
That’s the difference between me and Ms. Larda. She worries about what if she drops dead and the coroner and his whole crew come in and her house is a mess. It would be worse than getting in an accident and winding up at the hospital in underwear that has holes in it. She would be embarrassed for all eternity, she says.
Me, I am fine with the “Kick It Under the Bed” cleaning technique. When the bed actually starts to levitate off the floor, I get down on my hands and knees (some things you can’t dostadning) and drag out stuff and shove it in the closet.
When company is coming, I mop my floors nice and shiny with a wet towel on each foot. That’s the Modine method.
But I ain’t arguing with somebody glaring at me from a rubber donut. I scrub and polish and wrap in plastic, like she says. At the end of the day, I run to Rocky and Carlo’s and get po-boys to bring home for the kids and my gentleman friend Lust, who will probably show up for dinner. Plus one for Ms. Larda, of course. When I leave, I tell her to call if she finds anything else to scrub —which I hope to God she won’t.
Driving home, I get to thinking: maybe I should be organized like Ms. Larda; follow her example. What do I got that’s important enough to scrub and wrap in plastic?
I had called home about the po-boys. When I walk in, Gladiola is setting a lot of napkins on the table; Lust is opening beer and Barq’s; and Gargole is getting out Tabasco. They see me, and they let out a cheer.
Suddenly, I know what I got that’s important. But I can’t scrub them and wrap them in plastic.
So I pass out the po-boys.