Isn’t it amazing how much your eyesight improves right before you have houseguests?
There you are, happily living your life just fine among the piles of dirty laundry, heaps of clutter and assorted smudgy glasses. And then, for some crazy reason, you schedule houseguests and suddenly you view your home with eyes anew.
Your hawk-like vision reveals that, while you were in a decade-long go-to-work/feed-your-family/watch-reality-TV daze, the mildew in your shower was creeping up the bathroom wall and is now encircling your light fixture.
You also notice that the plush, beige sculpted carpet has disintegrated into a threadbare beige mop.
And lo and behold, your neatly organized mail sorting station—the one you swore was going to corral all your paperwork—has morphed into a mountain of magazines, credit card bills and unused tire coupons.
Upon the horrific realization that your once comfy home has become a hovel, you’re faced with three choices: rescind your invitation; unscrew all your light bulbs in the hope your guests can enjoy themselves sans illumination; or run around like a crazy person frantically scrubbing, scraping and shoving so that you can pretend you and your family are not, in fact, pigs.
We chose option three. Or rather I should say I chose option three. However, since the houseguest (an old friend of mine) was due to arrive in less than 24 hours, I knew I couldn’t tackle the job alone. So I lovingly coaxed (enslaved) my kids (scullery crew) into helping me with the “how can we make our house look like no one lives here?” fiasco.
We started with the back porch. Once a lovely spot for dining al fresco, with sparkling white woodwork and a gray, shiny plank floor, upon closer inspection it now appears that the only things holding it together are mildew and spider webs.
Oh, and did I mention the cat pee?
Although the impending guest visit improved my eyesight, sadly it had no effect whatsoever on my sense of smell. Thankfully, a fortuitous comment from one of my children’s friends alerted me to the fact that our finicky feline had been using our wicker sofa as a luxury cat box.
The poor little dear (the friend, not the cat) came over in the hopes of playing with my youngest daughter. However, when the crazed cleaning supervisor (me) turned Tom Sawyer-like and sold her on the virtues of taking a bleach-soaked scrub brush to a seemingly endless row of white pickets, she worked for a few minutes and then announced, “This porch smells like Aunt Fern’s house. She’s fun, she has 200 cats.”
By this point, it was also becoming obvious that getting rid of the mold would mean saying goodbye to the paint as well. So, realizing that the porch was a lost cause, I gave up and moved the clean-up crew indoors.
You can probably guess what happened next. The countertop clutter wouldn’t fit inside the dryer; the kitchen cabinets wouldn’t close when we shoved all the old magazines into them; and the last remains of the threadbare carpet got sucked into the vacuum.
Finally, acknowledging that waving a feather duster over 10 years worth of grime and disrepair would not transform our home into a show house, we turned to my husband for wisdom.
And a plan was born.
We would pick up our guest at the airport and drive her directly to a restaurant. There we would ply her with liquor before taking her back to the hovel where, in her drunken state, we would escort her directly to her room. Then, the next day we would hustle her, hangover and all, out to Waffle House before her eyes ever had time to focus on her sorry surroundings.
What can I say? We just love to entertain.
Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of “Forget Perfect” and “Finding Grace When You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear.” Contact her or join her interactive blog at www.ForgetPerfect.com.