Love is where you find it...
I’m a slob. I’m not proud of the fact, but there it is. I have attempted to deal with it. I keep my body clean, and my clothes (especially my work clothes) generally respectable. But I fall short when it comes to keeping my area neat and tidy. I fear that I’ll pass this on to my kids, so I roar at them to keep their rooms clean. This morning, as a matter of fact, was a bustle of remedying our shortcomings.
Last week, my wife Chris was out of town for 8 days at a sculpture symposium. During that time, my mother stepped up to watch my daughters when I could not. I had forbidden my mother from doing any household cleanup, feeling highly grateful that she was giving up most of her week to ride herd on an eight year-old and a highly energetic 4 year-old. She even went to the extent of even getting them ready for school, taking them to school, and often putting them down to bed while I went to work at night and grad school in the evenings. One night, I made pasta and marinara sauce. Some, er, splatter-age did occur.
When Chris returned, I had gotten some laundry done quickly, but little else. I then pitched into the next week of school, work, and checking into my injured father in the hospital. I didn’t clean up my mess much, and, to be honest, wasn’t home much. When I got home yesterday afternoon (Friday) to enjoy my weekend off, I realized that I hadn’t set foot in my house since Tuesday evening before work. I went into the kitchen and set down on the island the sack with the six-pack of this weekend’s foray into British beers: Old Speckled Hen. I hurried to get some marinade on the steaks that I was taking to my pal Scott’s.
Then I saw it. In an old cast iron skillet on the stovetop was the inevitable remnant of the bacon that I suppose I’d failed to clean up after frying. About 1/8th inch of tallow remained congealed in the bottom, into which my 8 year-old daughter had inscribed a message for her absent daddy: “I Love You Daddy. Love, Allie.” Strange how that stopped me dead, and my heart melted for a bit while I cleared the lump. What a bizarre medium to send this little declaration of affection. So, feeling a little silly, I grabbed my camera, and transmogrified lipids into zeros and ones. Then I went on to a nice dinner with family and friends.
Looking at the photo this morning, I saw how horrid my stovetop looked. No amount of photo editing can redact the obvious splatters that I left on the stove. The very subject of the photo is evidence of my sad failure to do what needed doing. Before I’d even saved the photo to my hard drive, I cleaned up the stovetop with harsh chemicals and strong strokes of brush and paper towels. It gleams as it should, now, and the old skillet is now a sure, deep, jet black as it rests in the drawer under the oven.
Chris had a tough week of getting back into the swing of work and having her husband gone for most of it. I know that she loves me a lot and resents me but little. But I have no doubt that she took one look at that stove and that skillet, smirked, and said to herself, “I’ll just let my husband handle that himself. I’m sure he’d want to clean up his own messes.” And she'd be right.