Cleanliness and Godliness

Over at Gin and Tacos, a political comedy website, Ed sometimes takes an article and interjects his reactions to it. It’s a process he usually titles FJM, based on the Fire Joe Morgan site, which was a sports journalism criticism blog that used the process generally called “fisking” which is just point-by-point criticism placed side by side with the article being criticised, often with a comedic bent. I will be using that same format to tackle this issue with you today.

So strap in, because we need to fisk-fuck this terrible New York Times article from June 2nd about how a wife avoided marital strife by learning not to be an absolute fucking slob. Hold onto your butts.

(Quick note: There are gender issues at hand in these kinds of situations. Note that if this situation was switched the man would probably call the woman a nag or domineering, and statistics show that the woman would give in and clean it all up anyway, further exacerbating the issue that the man does not clean up after himself, but when the choice is to do everything yourself and live in a clean house, fight and end up doing it yourself anyway, or give an ultimatum and leave, most women choose the first option. So please know I am aware of this, but this article is really poorly written and almost unbelievable, so I’m putting all that aside to rip this author a new one, because this is just ridiculous.)

Author’s note: Remember, the description of this article says that we should expect to see her discover the sexiness of cleanliness. This is not what we are about to experience. Good luck and god speed.

I have the reputation of living what Marie Kondo might call a magically tidy life. My tights are rolled like sushi, my tabletops are bare and my kitchen is so clean I could perform surgery in it.

WTF does “magically tidy” mean? Do you mean that you kept your house clean? It’s not magic, calling it magic continues the idea that women just keep things up without any effort. It’s just magically tidy without any kind of time, effort, or sweat needed. Guess what, it’s not magic, it’s WORK. We’re off to a promising start, please go on. Also, who is Marie Kondo?

I wasn’t always this way. When I was 23, I left my New York City apartment with a panty liner stuck to my back.

Gross. Also I have questions, but I am the kind of person who politely waits until the end of the presentation to ask questions, because you might answer them in the process. So please continue.

Yes, it was used. Yes, earlier that day, I had taken it off and tossed it onto my bed like a bear throws salmon bones onto a rock. Once it was there, I guess I forgot about it. It was probably camouflaged. I promise you there was other stuff on the bed. My bed used to look like a landfill.

Maybe I threw my coat over it and it stuck. And then I put my coat back on and rode a bus 30 blocks with a panty liner between my shoulder blades. Nobody said a word. I didn’t know it was there until my date gave me a hug and then peeled it off like he was at a burlesque show in hell.

…okay. So my questions are as follows.


(2) Your bed looked like a landfill? Were there seagulls? Sorry, that was two questions.

(3) If I was the guy dating you that gave you a hug and my hand hit a USED PANTYLINER and I had to PEEL IT OFF YOU it would be over. That’s not a question, I just wanted to put that there.

This was not the man I married.
WHAT?!?! NO SHIT, REALLY? The guy you were dating wasn’t cool with your landfill bed and pantyliner wallpaper? WOAH.

The man I married walked into my apartment and found Pop-Tart crusts on my couch. I can still see his face, bewildered and big-eyed, pointing at the crusts as if to ask, “Do you see them, too?”

I shrugged.

He sat on the sofa. It is my husband’s nature to accept me the way I am.

So the shock of seeing Pop-Tart crusts was so great, your future husband thought he was hallucinating. I wonder what was going through his mind in that moment. Maybe it’s a dog that got into the Pop-Tarts? Maybe she babysits or is a nanny? Naw, she’s just a crazy slob that doesn’t understand how roaches work and is willing to shrug off leaving food trash on the couch. Girl that pussy must be AMAZING because that would be a really big problem for me.

It is my nature to leave every cabinet and drawer open like a burglar. My superpower is balancing the most stuff on a bathroom sink. If I had my druthers, I would let cat puke dry on a carpet so it’s easier to scrape up. If druthers were things, and I had a coupon for druthers, I would stockpile them like Jell-O because you never know when you might need some druthers.

But it is one thing to accept a slob for who she is; it is another to live with her.

Your future husband is in for a roller coaster ride. Dear reader, if you are not married I cannot stress this enough: please take how a person lives very seriously. Their behavior may have a history or reasons for it, they might even have a problem (see: hoarder), but you want to get these problems worked out BEFORE you get married or move in together. Go to therapy together, address the issue, talk it out, put it on the table (if there’s room). Sometimes we get so wrapped up in *LOVE* that we forget that when the ~*~LOVE~*~ wears off you are splitting chores and cleaning alongside this person. A lot of resentment can build up when you’ve got expectations and the other person just keeps doing what they were doing before. It’s very hard if you prefer to live clean, but now you’re cleaning for two.

A year into our marriage, my husband said: “Would you mind keeping the dining room table clean? It’s the first thing I see when I come home.”

hehehehehe GO IN HUSBAND

What I heard was, “I want a divorce.” What I said was, “Do you want a divorce?”

Bitch you know it’s a problem. And you know that because you are already thinking about how you’re not gonna change and eventually he’ll get fed up. That’s a fast jump from “can you clean the table” to “OH DIVORCE, HUH?” Touchy…

“No,” he said. “I just want a clean table.”

I said what I said.gif

I called my mother.


She asked, “What’s on the table?”

“Oh, everything. Whatever comes off my body when I come home. Shopping bags, food, coffee cups, mail. My coat.”

“Your coat?”

“So I don’t hang my coat in the closet — that makes me a terrible person? He knew who he was marrying. Why do I have to change?”

It takes a special kind of arrogance to say something like this. The level of laziness and selfishness that this woman is displaying here is really spectacular. It comes from the idea that, really you should be holding to that BEFORE you get married. If someone is a sarcastic asshole, they probably won’t magically change because you marry them and they suddenly transform into the “perfect husband.” It’s meant to be proactive advice, not words to justify your behavior after the fact. “Welp you didn’t mind it before so suck it up Jack!” Just wow…

She said: “Helen Michelle, for heaven’s sake, this is a problem that can be easily solved. Do you know what other married women deal with? Drunks, cheaters, poverty, men married to their Atari.”

“Mama, there’s no such thing as Atari anymore.”

“Helen Michelle, some women would be beaten with a bag of oranges for sass talk like that. You married a saint. Clean the damned table.”

And so, to save my marriage, I taught myself to clean.

*sarcastic slow clap*

Not knowing where to start, I knelt before the TV at the Church of Joan Crawford, who said, as Mildred Pierce, “Never leave one room without something for another.”

Yes, I’ll admit she had a temper, but she knew how to clean.

NOT KNOWING WHERE TO START? Give me your mom’s number, I know you have it because you just called her. I have some questions for her too. You don’t know where to start? I hope your mom read this article and then journeyed to where you were and slapped the foolish out of you.

You scrub a floor on your hands and knees. You shake a can of Comet like a piggy bank. You hang your clothes in your closet a finger’s width apart. And, no, you do not have wire hangers. Ever.

I have wooden hangers from the Container Store. They’re walnut and cost $7.99 for a pack of six. I bought them online because stepping into the Container Store, for me, is like stepping into a crack den. You’re an addict trying to organize your crack, and they’re selling you pretty boxes to put your crack in.

Pretty boxes are crack, so now you have more crack. But wooden hangers are O.K. They’re like mimosas. Nobody’s going to OD on mimosas. Wooden hangers give you a boost of confidence. They make you feel rich and thin. They make a plain white shirt sexy. You promise yourself you’ll fill one closet, then you’ll quit.

I want to take a moment and remind everyone that it is the year 2017. Do you know how many products exist so we don’t have to scrub shit on our hands and knees anymore? Has this woman never seen a Swiffer commercial?  I guess to be fair she hasn’t said when this was happening, so I guess it could be like, early aughts? And wooden hangers? If you can afford wooden hangers for ALL your clothes you can pick up a Swiffer. If you want to go old school get one of those sponge mops that are soft on one side and rough on the other. NO KNEE BENDING REQUIRED.

But I didn’t quit. To keep my buzz going, I asked my husband if I could clean his closet.

He asked, “What does that mean?”

I said: “Switch out your plastic hangers for wooden ones. What do you think I mean?”

“I don’t know, something new for Saturday night?” He did the air quotes: “Clean my closet.”

My new ways were so new he assumed I was making sexual advances. It’s understandable. So much dirty talk sounds hygienic: salad spinning and putting a tea bag on a saucer. It’s like Martha Stewart wrote Urban Dictionary.

frank underwood side eye

My husband opened his closet and stepped aside. The man trusts me. I rehung his closet with military precision.

He said, “I never knew it could be this good.”

We kissed. And then I relapsed.

Is this the part where we discover the sexiness in cleanliness? Through weird hyperbole? Your husband’s mind honestly interpreted “clean your closet” to be something sexual. Sure. Then you kissed and immediately relapsed? So this is a disease now? You hung up all his clothes and was like, welp all done with being clean, let’s make out! I mean, we all have that feeling from time to time, shout out to Ms. Brosch at Hyperbole and a Half:

Screenshot 2017-06-04 at 5.01.34 PM
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I feel like system failure is different for everyone, but this lady sounds like a special case.

I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it was leaving the Dutch oven to soak overnight. Maybe it was tepeeing books on my desk like a bonfire. Maybe it was shucking my panties off like shoes. And then my coat fell off the dining room table. And I left it there because the cats were using it as a bed. There it stayed along with laundry, newspapers, restaurant leftovers (that never made it to the fridge) and Zappos returns.

First LOL DUTCH OVEN FART JOKE. But seriously. So your coat is on the floor being used as a cat bed, next to newspapers, restaurant leftovers, and Zappos returns? You realize that makes it sound like all those things are on the floor, right? Is that just poor writing or did you really mean all those things are getting covered by cat hair on the floor next to the table? The one thing your husband asked to be clean so he could feel more happy?

My husband played hopscotch, never uttering a word of contempt, seemingly O.K. to coast on the memory of a pristine home as if it had been a once-in-a-lifetime bucket-list thrill like white-water rafting or winning a Pulitzer. Sure, he could have put things away, but every closet except for his was bulging and breathing like portholes to other dimensions.

What other things were there? In a minute, she’s going to try to make her laziness seem like a mental illness akin to those showcased on the show Hoarders. It very well may be, but honestly it just sounds like someone had always cleaned up behind her and never asked her to do it herself, so she doesn’t have that internal trigger to keep things at a certain level of clean. I’m still waiting on your mom’s number, I have more questions.

I scared myself straight by binge-watching “Hoarders.” What do you mean that woman couldn’t claw her way through her grocery bag “collection” to give her husband CPR?

That was not going to happen to me. So I gave books I had read to libraries. Clothes I hadn’t worn in a year went to secondhand stores. I gave away the microwave because I can melt Velveeta on a stove.

Wait. You gave away the microwave? Is melting Velveeta the only thing you did in that microwave? How was giving away the microwave decluttering? The books and clothes I get. Now I just think that you just never learned how to be a person. 

And then came Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Or as I like to call it, “Surprise, You’re Still a Hoarder!”

Her big question is, Does it spark joy?

My big question is, how much did she pay you to plug her book in a New York Times article? At least I know who she is now. 

I took a harder look around my home and answered. Boxes of novel manuscripts that were never published did not spark joy. Designer shoes I bought at sample sales but never wore because they pinched my feet did not spark joy. My husband confessed that his inheritance of Greek doilies and paintings of fishing boats from his grandmother did not spark joy. So out it all went.

They didn’t even take those doilies and paintings to Antiques Roadshow? Also, not everything that is necessary to my life sparks joy in me. I mean, I get what Kondo is saying, but the author of this article is the kind of person who throws out her only microwave so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that they would have taken it to the extreme. Family heirlooms? They don’t lift my dick so INTO THE TRASH FUCK YOU GRANDMA. I mean I expected this from Helen but not you Jonathan.

And what is left is us. And my husband is happier. I’m happier, too. Turns out I like a tidy house. And I like cleaning.

I don’t understand how this solved the problem. Your thesis is not supported. HOW DID THIS GET PUBLISHED IN THE NYT?

Dusting is meditative. Boiling the fridge relieves PMS. Making the bed is my cardio, because to make a bed properly, you have to circle it like a shark. And all the while, I listen to audiobooks I would be too embarrassed to be caught reading. Not in the mood to clean a toilet? Listen to “Naked Came the Stranger” and see if that doesn’t pass the time.

HOW DO YOU BOIL A FRIDGE? *googles* yeah, boiling a fridge isn’t a thing. Is this just shitty editing? Also, notice her small twist to the sexual. Listening to a racy audiobook helps you get motivated to clean a toilet? I’m not sure I would want to pair the two, knowing what I know about behavioral conditioning, but you do you I guess. We’ll see how you Pavlov’s dog that shit later.

The downside is that my husband has created a monster. I burn through paper towels like an arsonist. My vacuum has a headlight, which for fun I joy ride in the dark. And I don’t do it in pearls and a crinoline skirt. It’s not unusual for me to wear an apron over my pajamas.

HOW DO YOU RIDE THE HEADLIGHT ON YOUR VACUUM? What is this person even talking about? Do they understand how sentences work? Again, it’s 2017 why would you be doing this in pearls? Cleaning is WORK, you wear comfy clothes to get it done. IT. IS. 20. 17.

I say: “Hey, it’s me or the apartment. We can’t both be pristine.”

I’m gonna ask it again, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

Without hesitation, my husband will always choose the apartment.

ummmmmm…again, I think this is the fault of bad writing, but don’t you mean your husband would prefer a clean apartment over having you dress up in pearls to clean? OR do you mean it’s okay if your body is gross, as long as you keep the apartment clean your husband will be okay with it? YOUR WRITING IS CONFUSING.

Sometimes, I invite him to join in my efforts, offering him the most awful tasks as if I’m giving him a treat. I’ll say, “I’m going to let you scoop the cat box,” or “I’m going to let you scrape the processed cheese out of the pan.”

My husband says, “You’re like a dominatrix Donna Reed.”

I say, “Take off your shirt and scrape the pan, dear.”

This is weird. Why is this happening to me? I don’t understand.

He takes off his shirt and scrapes the pan. In our 21 years together, my husband’s nature hasn’t changed.

You can’t make this kind of statement without telling us things about your husband. All we know about him is that he’s okay with Pop-Tart crusts on the couch and he’d like the table to be clean. Is his nature that he likes to do the dishes shirtless? I’m beginning to think this is just bad writing or editing or both.

Me, I’m a recovering slob. Every day I have to remind myself to put the moisturizer back in the medicine cabinet, the cereal back in the cupboard and the trash out before the can overflows. I have to remind myself to hang my coat in the closet.

Yes, that’s the idea of being responsible. Your brain gives you a signal to remind you to do things, like hang your coat up, shower, breathe – you know, the basics. It’s called LEARNING. Look at you! It sounds like you’re in your early 40s (?) and you’ve mastered learning to be a good roommate and consider the feelings of others! *throws confetti*

And when I accomplish all of this, I really do feel like a magician. Because now, when my husband comes home, the first thing he sees is me.

I thought we covered this. The first thing he sees is the table.