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July 30, 2011

As Time Goes By: One man's clean is often a women's filthy -- just wait for the smile

This is such a simple thing. Clean is clean. What's the problem? Unfortunately in our house clean has become a riddle like, "What came first the chicken or the egg?"

I think that age has dulled my reflexes for pain because here I am, once again trying to understand the intricate mechanizations of the mind of a woman. Lord have mercy!

CLEAN. The thesaurus lists "spotless, dirt free, unsoiled, fresh, sparkling, hygienic, sanitary, uncontaminated, unpolluted, and sterile" as just a few words indicating a situation of "clean."

I look at "clean" and think "spotless," but my wife thinks dirt free, unsoiled, fresh, sparkling, hygienic, sanitary, un-contaminated, unpolluted and sterile. Whatever she is "cleaning" has to meet all the criteria listed all at the same instant or else it isn't "clean."

I wish I had known this before we got married.

I once indicated an interest in washing the windows in the spring. I knew they needed cleaning when I was checking to see what I should wear that day and all I said was, "It's a dreary gray day out, probably it will rain," so I started choosing rain gear and waterproof shoes. My wife said as she opened the sliding door to the bedroom, "Look outside, the sun is shining and not a cloud in the sky. It looks gray and dreary because the window is dirty." (I think she said "filthy," but why quibble over small problems.)

I mixed up my special blend of cleaners and sanitizers and started washing using a long-handled brush and a squeegee

I said, "I'm finished," and stepped back to review my accomplishment, fully expecting a blare of trumpets and a drum roll. My wife said, "Let me take a look."

If I was only half as smart as Yogi Bear I should have jumped into the car and headed down the road to return the next spring. But, no, I had to linger expecting high praise. Diane said, "Let me see."

She pointed to a spot in the corner of the window _ a spot so small that 10 of them would be needed to cover a dime. "This window is not CLEAN."

Looking back, I think that this was the spot where I should have gladly consumed the hemlock tea.

I said, "The only way anyone will see that spot is to stand on a six-foot ladder and be looking out of the corner at the world."

Looking back, this is the spot where I should have brewed another cup of hemlock tea.

My wife said, "We will not give people the impression that we are slobs." She then went back over all the other windows to ensure that they were unsoiled, fresh, sparkling, hygienic, sanitary, un-contaminated, unpolluted and sterile.

Then I said something really stupid. I said, "If the only reason people want us as friends is because we have windows that are 'spotless, dirt free, unsoiled, fresh, sparkling, hygienic, sanitary, uncontaminated, unpolluted and sterile,' then they are very shallow people. They are not going to dine off them, are they?"

Dead silence.

One would think that after 30-plus years of marriage I would have formulated a backup plan by this time, but when the Almighty was handing out the microchips that dealt with dealing with spouses, I was either in the john or wandering around looking for Westchester County. Either way I was going to lose.

I finally told Diane that the windows looked so bright that you would almost swear there was no glass in them. I then said that she was absolutely right, that a window that has an infinitesimal dirt spot in one corner ruins all her hard work. She smiled.

A woman's smile is almost as difficult to understand as the look she can give you. (See former columns.)

The smile she exhibits when you ask her to marry you is the smile of accomplishment. She has worked very hard to bring her future mate to this point _ the point where the male still thinks he is running his own life. Little does he know.

There is the smile that she exhibits the first time she catches you in a lie. This smile is the same smile that a spider exhibits when she feels the initial tremor in the web when first contacted by a fly.

There is one smile I pray you will never see. It is the smile of revenge. You have seen this smile on the faces of the wives of famous men who have gone astray and grazed in other pastures. Think Arnold, Eliot and Tiger.

This smile never moves on the face _ it is like it is frozen in time and space. The give-away of a revenge smile is found all in the eyes of the wounded party. She would like to cry but she is all cried out and you see in the smile that there is going to be a lot of pain _ inflicted pain _ purposeful pain.

A husband can prepare himself for the revenge smile, but in time, one cannot sleep with one eye open forever.

After Diane reads this to check for errata I ask only one thing from you dear reader. "Pray for me."

Note from Diane, "As I read this for errors, I'm smiling."

Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by e-mail at hgeerken@stny.rr.com. 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.

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