I am a Bad Housewife. I am a woman who seldom dusts.
Yeah, yeah, that’s not so bad. I’m not really a housewife anyway: I just call myself a housewife. “Mad Housewife” used to be my online handle. Every time I left a comment on my blog or any blog, the signature would say “Mad Housewife.”
My husband used to ask who Mad Housewife was. He was a sucker for me even in my e-incarnation.
I changed my handle to Frisbee, the name of my blog.
Here’s what’s bad: I don’t do housework, I never learned to do housework, and I keep expecting my mother to drop in and clean house for me.
Picture me the other day trying to dust the louvered doors. How the hell are you supposed to dust these?
A louvered door has slats. The woman who used to live here was mad for slats. There are 14 louvered doors, if I include the 10 on the goddamned built-in china cabinets we use for bookshelves.
Try the duster, but it can’t reach inside the narrow top of the slat. The slats slant, and the dust sits inside the slant.
I gave up on the duster in despair. I took out the rags. I squirted Murphy’s soap and cleaned up some of the dust. Black, thick dust.
There’s still dust up there.
My mother is vague about dusters. She has a Swiffer. She used to have treated rags. She dusted every day so she never had the build-up.
Dim the lights and draw the curtains. Mom’s coming!
Growing up, I knew from the Trixie Belden books that girls had chores. “Couldn’t I have a chore?”
Mom was vague. “I’d rather do it myself.”
Of course she constantly dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed floors, did dishes. I should have watched her.
It’s clear that other women learned how to do this. They picked it up. According to the American Time Use Survey, women in 2011 spent an average of 2.16 hours a day on “activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management.
Perhaps I do an hour of cooking every day.
Perhaps they are dusting louvered doors.
Wouldn’t they rather be doing other things?
I own one not-very-helpful book, Cheryl Mendelson’s Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Doing Housework. Too much about dust theory and not enough how-to. She is priggish and holier-than-thou about dust. She writes:
All house dust contains a variety of allergens, and house dust is implicated in the alarming rise in the rates of asthma and other allergic diseases in recent years. The statistic on this precipitous rise are staggering. It is estimated that forty to fifty million people in this country are currently affected by one allergic disease of another…. Rates of hospital admissions are increasing.”
Hey, you’re living in New York City. Ever heard of pollution?
Really, we’re all fine here, despite the dust.
After reading 14 pages about dust, I learned that a small paintbrush might reach some of those narrow corners.
My goal is to be a Less Bad Housewife.
I will keep you apprised of my progress.