From Frazzled to Neat Freak

The world is divided into two types of people: Those who allow others into their homes when it’s a mess, and those who allow others inside only when the house is neat. The bottom line is that everyone is messy, but some people permit others to see it and some don’t. (There’s a myth floating around that there’s a third category: Those whose houses are always clean. Don’t believe it. Unless they keep their kids in straitjackets all day long, it’s impossible.)

Growing up, I lived in a two-story house with a haunted basement. At least that’s what we kids called it, as it consisted of a single eerie room with peeling paint, missing tiles and broken furniture that predated both World Wars. Eventually it was going to be renovated and turned into livable space, but until then there was nothing usable down there except for the washing machine and dryer. We kids were always terrified to go downstairs because of the ghosts and whatnot, so whenever we had dirty laundry we simply dumped it down the basement steps. The stairs were perpetually strewn with laundry—which would have been totally fine, except for the fact that the stairwell was located right inside the entrance to the house. Whenever anyone knocked on the door there was an immediate shriek from my mother: “Run! Put all the laundry in the basement before you open the door!” Only after the dirty clothes were out of sight was the guest permitted inside.

My dear mother obviously belonged to category number two, only allowing guests to cross her threshold when the house sparkled. (Shidduchim, you know.)

I’m a big believer in tradition, so I am now proud to continue the family legacy of not permitting anyone in when the house isn’t spic and span. And I never open the front door until the laundry closet doors are safely shut. They are for my eyes only.

After we had gone to check out the apartment as a potential place to live, we were standing in the front entrance about to leave when I suddenly realized that we hadn’t seen a laundry room. “You do have a washing machine and dryer…” I said hopefully.

“Sure do,” the woman replied. “They’re actually right behind you.” I whirled around. There were two swinging doors. “There they are.”

“In the front entrance!” I croaked. “You have got to be kidding me.”

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