Listening In

Monday, December 24, 2007

Winter spring cleaning

24th December 2007

Living alone can do wonders for your sanity but it has its drawbacks, notably a lack of people to stop you from doing something crazy. Or at least, incredibly foolish.

Something such as dribbling Jif on a wooden floor.

It seemed like the right season for it. The end of the year is traditionally when Japanese households do a major cleaning; I was just following local example.

The ritual began innocuously enough: moving my shoes out into the corridor, then applying Jif to my little square of a foyer and scrubbing.

Once that was done, I put the shoes back though I did have to wipe a pair off first; I'd gone out walking in the rain the day before. The shoes were black and sensible, even if rambling on a wet winter day wasn't.

I then swept the floor but how was I to get it really clean? The answer was obvious: Jif and warm water.

I applied both and scrubbed.

But after the floor dried, I noticed something odd. Was it me or did the wood seem, well, lighter?

Of course, when you take a layer of dirt off something, it's bound to look paler but the floor seemed to be covered in ...a white film.

Bending down, I brushed my palm over the floor under the bed, which I'd not Jiffed because it was too much trouble. The wooden boards felt smooth.

I put my hand over a Jiffed portion: sticky.


I scrubbed the floor with a cloth once more but my slippered feet still made strange noises when I lifted it clear of the floor.

So I scrubbed the floor again but, this time, with a brush. It came with a long handle but it wasn't nearly long enough because it was meant for scrubbing the bathtub, not the floor.

I did what I could anyway, reflecting all the while on the perils of living alone.

It occurred to me that I was spending far more time getting the cleaning agent off the floor than actually cleaning it.

The irony was not lost on me, even if the finer points of housekeeping were.

I wiped the wood dry yet again and stared at it. There was still a haze of white but my back, not in good shape to begin with, flatly vetoed the idea of another scrub.

Oh hell, let's call that stuff a protective film or something.

And let us also declare that year-end spring cleaning is a custom more honoured in the breach than the observance.

Just let me do the fridge first.

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