Does a messy home (or office) make you anxious and cranky, or is cleaning something you just do before company comes over?
Ben answered the phone and came back into the kitchen.
“Who was that? Alice asked about to sit at the table with her coffee.
“Larry and Lucy are in town and they’ll be here in a half hour,” Ben said.
“What!” Alice said. “Your brother and his wife?”
“Yeah,” Ben said. “In a half hour.”
“Quick get the sweeper out,” Alice said in full cleaning mode. “You sweep and I’ll dust.” She dumped her coffee down the drain. “No I’ll sweep, you leave crooked lines, and you dust, and don’t forget the rungs on the chair. Lucy looks at them every time they come over.”
“No she doesn’t,” Ben said. “She’s counting the dust-bunnies under the table; the chairs just happen to be in her line of vision. I know, I’ll get the dust-bunnies.”
They began to clean furiously.
“She was the one who said, ‘What are you doing, planning on knitting a sweater?’” Alice said.
“Lucy is a slob,” Ben said. “You shouldn’t let it worry you like that. She‘s like an alcoholic telling the folks at mass, ’Ya know, ya really ought to not drink so much. ”
“She’s not Catholic, Ben,” Alice said. “She’s a snooty Methodist. They ought to repave their own parking lot at their church before they go telling people how messy their house is.”
“What’s religion got to do with it?” Ben said.
“Nothing! You brought up religion. And I‘m using it.” Alice said. “I’m just gaining motivation. The Methodist girls in school always looked down on us Baptists.” She began to mock, “’If you weren’t so busy rolling around in the aisle you wouldn’t have wrinkled your dress.’ ‘We don’t roll around in the aisles,’ I told Beatrice Ludwig. Than she said, ‘Oh you just don’t iron your cloths, right?’ I could never get one up on them.”
“How does house cleaning always somehow get boiled down into a discussion of theology?” Ben said.
“Because cleanliness is next to godliness!” Alice said.
“Remember the story of Mary and Martha?” Ben said. “Jesus commended Mary and chastised Martha. Mary didn’t run around the house cleaning and straightening things and she was the favored one. Martha was too busy trying to impress.”
“Listen buddy,” Alice said. “Jesus is not walking through those doors in a few minutes. It’s Lucy which is short for Lucifer. She can’t forgive sins, but she can sure make my life a living hell.”
Ben and Alice cleaned furiously until Larry and Lucy pulled into the driveway.
“Quick,” Alice said. “Toss a newspaper on the coach and a magazine in your chair.”
“Why?” Ben said.
“I don’t want it to look as if we just cleaned,” Alice said.
Ben did as he was ordered.
Ben and Alice invited Larry and Lucy inside. They exchanged greetings.
“Oh my,” Alice said. “I wish we’d known earlier you guys were in town. This place is such a mess.”
“It has been a while,” Lucy said. “That’s last weeks newspaper on the couch.”
Alice smiled, well more like gritting her teeth with her lips forcibly curled up. “Can I get you two some coffee?”
“Sure,” Lucy said. “But would you mind rinsing the cups first?”
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