Ever since the first humans learned to walk upright, housework has been relegated to women. While the men were out hunting, fighting the tribe from the other side of the hill, getting themselves killed and all the other guy stuff, the women were keeping the home fires burning and trying not to smoke up the caves while they were at it, patching up the animal skins and having babies.*
Fast forward to the present. This author has been doing quite well (for me) in keeping my new apartment neat. It’s not easy, because Harmony the Cat is a pint-sized hair and footprint machine who can jump onto and squeeze into practically everything. If you don’t count the globs of fur and the dirty cat prints, though, my place is pretty neat.
Neat, that is, except for a couple of hard-to-get-to nooks and crannies, one of which is the floor behind the toilet. There is dirt back there that has probably been growing like a weed for the last fifty years.
Whoever designed the average modern New York City apartment bathroom obviously never had to clean one. I can swear that the mess behind my toilet sticks its tongue out at me every time it sees me, as its way of saying, “You’ll never get me out of here.”
So okay, here I am, ready to attack and kill that mess once and for all. My weapons are a sponge mop, some Lysol, a Swiffer Sweeper, some Swiffer wet sheets and a big yellow sponge. I set everything down on the bathroom floor, look at the mess and say, “There ain’t room for the two of us in this apartment, you miserable varmint. One of us has to die, and it ain’t gonna be me!”
Okay. I need a tactic. I am fat, I am no spring chicken, and my knees have seen much better days. I can kneel on the floor for about five seconds before the pain reaches my brain, swirls around for a few seconds, then heads back to my knees, bringing reinforcements with it. So kneeling and reaching behind the toilet are out.
I put one of the Swiffer wet sheets on the Swiffer Sweeper and proceed to try to mop the mess with it. I really wish that the Swiffer people would get together with the designers who dream up these bathrooms and decide on some common measurements. The damned sweeper won’t fit back there. All I can do is scrape a line or two into the dirt. Scratch that. On to Plan B.
I take the sponge, wet it, and squirt some Lysol on it. Then I squirt a bunch of Lysol on the dirt. I then drape myself over the toilet with my arms on either side of it. My head is hanging down, wedged between the toilet seat and my left shoulder, which is wedged against the wall. The smell of the Lysol almost makes me vomit. The toilet is pulling my cheek and my mouth out of shape. I hate to think of what I must look like, but that’s the least of my problems. A bigger problem is trying to keep my right eye from being pushed into my brain, which is already overloaded with pain signals coming from my left shoulder.
I start to wonder why we don’t just use commodes, like they did in the old days.
I manage to reach the floor with my left hand, but, unfortunately, the sponge is in my right hand. I reach around the toilet with both hands and barely manage to transfer the sponge from one hand to the other.
Have you ever embraced a toilet while your head and shoulder are stuck between it and the wall? I don’t recommend it.
I wipe as much of the floor as I can reach with the Lysol-soaked sponge. All this does is push most of the dirt around and make a lot of Lysol tracks in it.
I feel something go thump on my back. It’s Harmony the Cat, who walks up my back, sticks her nose into my face, sniffs me a few times, then lies down. I can feel her tail slapping my back.
I am now lying on top of a toilet with my shoulder and head stuck between it and the wall, trying to move a sponge on the floor with a cat lying on my back.
Oh, one more drawback of this activity: you get dirty. The mess on the floor is tired of being wiped with the sponge and has decided to attack my hand. My shoulder and face aren’t faring much better.
I finally decided I’ve had enough, and I’m not getting anywhere, anyway. I start to get up, very slowly, extricating myself from the toilet and the wall. Harmony the Cat refuses to budge from my back. Instead, she digs her claws into my shoulders and holds on. This pulls the neckline of the tee shirt I am wearing so tight on my neck that I almost choke. I stand up, stooped over, carrying the cat piggy-back, wash my hands and face, and head for the living room.
I retrieve my cell phone from my purse and call a cleaning service.
*Have you ever tried to start a fire by rubbing two pieces of rock together? Neither have I.