Desire for cleanliness

#551 in a series of true experiences in real estate
May 2008, Hills Newspapers

Kitchen sinks was the topic. Five women at lunch on a workday comparing recent life notes and for a moment we landed on sinks. I said I can’t stand when my kitchen sink is dirty. I empty the little basket around the drain, I get a piece of paper towel, thump the basket, wipe it, throw the wad away.

It’s pretty picky of me. The whole rest of the house can be near collapse with belongings everywhere, windows so dusty I can barely see out, and yet, the thing that I must have sparkling clean and white is my kitchen sink.

But guess what, Carol said she’s the same way. She keeps a clean sink all the time. Martha said she just throws bits directly in the garbage. I said I don’t use the garbage disposal anymore, our sewer guy told me not to. “Yeah,” someone agreed, “they really aren’t worth the trouble.”

Anet said that the problem is the kids, and she’s right. Both my kids are living at home right now. They use the sink, the stove, the refrigerator, the food about two dozen times a day. Carol, whose kids all live away still, said sometimes they come over. One told her she’d sure gotten persnickety since he’d left home: No crumbs on the counter, no dishes in the sink, clean sink basket.

We all said it’s different when it’s just you, you can keep things like you like them. You can put something down and know it’ll be there when you go back. Actually, that’s not entirely true. If I take something out of a drawer and leave it out, when I come back, it’ll be gone. Where are the scissors? Anet put them back in the drawer.

But people who live together for awhile know what drives the other one nuts. They wash out the sink even if they might not have if they were living alone. They load the dishwasher with the plastic glasses on the top and the ceramic mugs on the bottom, and always wash sharp knives by hand. I’m the sink washer. I wash it several times a day, whenever I’m standing there, get the drips off the sides and bottom, dump the basket — Carol stops me, puts in “There are beautiful chrome baskets you can get, I’ve got one, do you know them?” “Yes, we do and we put them in all our houses too” says Anet.

I keep a magic eraser just under the sink, it’s the best, gets black marks off the porcelain made by washing metal pans in the sink. Pretty often the kids wash pans that they’ve used, the problem is that there are always those darn black marks.

We were sitting that day in Martha’s kitchen which, lately, Martha’s been letting us come to even though “the house is a mess.” We love going to Martha’s kitchen because it’s warm and friendly and pretty and you get to walk through her flowery garden on the way to it, and if it’s messy, no one notices.

Sandy was there with us too, but I don’t remember her getting into the sink conversation with us, I think she just listened, but at the end she said, “I’ve got to have you come to my house more often.”

Sandy doesn’t let us come unless she has cleaned her house to perfection. Anet’s like that too. But you know, we love being together, and I’ll bet Sandy just had a moment of clarity about things that really matter.

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