I divide the world into two groups. Those who wipe spills immediately and those who let them harden on the stove. Either you shrug at the pot boiling over or you cry out, obsess, remove the grate and unearth every last bit of gunk.
When a pot boils over something I gave no thought to before - pristine perfection - is now out of reach. Cleaning up the spill is my attempt at stalling the inevitable ruination of perfection. If this sounds overblown, think about the reasoning behind a “spotless” house which we are all exhorted to keep. At the root, it’s an attempt at forestalling deterioration (worse, it might be to forestall deterioration of reputation.)
Real Simple magazine devotes entire issues to help us avert cleaning remorse before it starts. If it’s not mentally healthy to keep a “spotless” house, which spots are considered okay to leave alone? Let’s say the kitchen is the room we most wish to be spotless because of the health advantage. To keep a kitchen spotless is to invite obsessive, compulsive behavior that will land us in a group home. Besides the obvious mess necessary to prepare food, there will always be something lurking behind the refrigerator or behind the stove.
There are two housekeeping maneuvers that cover my psyche with a cuddly blanket of “I’m so very okay.” 1. The look and promise of a freshly-made bed with clean sun-dried sheets and duvet. 2. A psychotically ordered linen closet where everything is folded to the same width and size the way they do the tees and jeans at the Gap.
And who was the scold that said, “Cleanliness is next to godliness?” No it wasn’t Martha Stewart. Some attribute it to Francis Bacon’s “Advancement of Learning” written in 1605 when there were no antibiotics and cleanliness gave people a shot at living past thirty. Today there is nothing next to godliness except maybe Amazon.
I thought I could extrapolate a deeper meaning out of this post but short of showcasing my slovenliness and digging into the reasons for it, I’m content to just make you feel better about the fossilized spills you may find here and there.