Last weekend, some friends called at the last minute to ask if they could drop by. Panic set it in. We had a lot of areas to straighten. We both learned this skill from our mothers (as I’m sure you did). Mom was always telling me to straighten my room. Straightening was simply rearranging the clutter, with no suggestion that anything was to be discarded. When you're a kid, you learn that hiding stuff is the fastest way to clean up.
Of course, no matter how successful we were going to be at making order out of the chaos, the first thing my wife was going to say when our friends arrived was the obligatory, “I am so sorry—the place is such a mess.”
The clock was running. Guests were on the way. That's when the old toaster was taken off the counter and stuffed in the kitchen pantry. The cat’s scratching post was rolled under a bed. The kitty litter set in the stall shoer. In fact, I even put the cat in the storage room because she snarls at strangers. The ugly basket with all the TV remotes that sat on the coffee table was hidden behind a chair.
The guest bathroom was sufficiently clean and in order, but there was always a chance someone might want to use my bathroom. (Yes, I have my own bathroom. That’s why we have been happily married for 40 years.) "Hide everything," said Mary Ellen. "Your bathroom is a disgrace." I grabbed all my medications off the counter, my electric toothbrush, the Norelco shaver, a gallon-size bottle of minty-blue mouthwash, two combs and three hairbrushes and hid them in the...well, I put them under the...I lodged them behind the...I had no clue where they were. I should have kept track.
The same thing happened in the dining room. Because we seldom eat in that room, the dinner table had become the depository for bills and assorted important papers. My wife has always been concerned about leaving material like this out in plain sight. She thinks it all should be secured in a place where no one can find it. Well, mission accomplished.
Once our friends left, it was time for us to find everything. And quick. I was sure the cat had to pee and was anxious to scratch her post; I wanted to watch TV; and Mary Ellen wanted to pay some bills. We spent most of the next morning looking for stuff we had squirreled away. We didn’t find everything, but I did locate the huge pile of instruction manuals for all our new appliances in the back of the laundry closet. I hid those two years ago before our housewarming party after we moved in. So that’s where they’ve been?
The next morning, I couldn't brush my teeth, comb my hair or take my Lipitor. Fortunately, when I got in the shower, I found all the items from my countertop piled up in the back end of the tub. I know that eventually everything else will show up, too. Mary Ellen really misses the cat.