The pen is mightier than the feather duster … but not nearly as erotic. – L. Oliver Bright
Go ahead, snort and sneeze all you want, but my friend’s observation is valid, and particularly relevant to this particular time of the year.
See, I steadfastly refuse to spend the next three weeks scrubbing, sweeping, scouring, swabbing and sandblasting layers of vaguely organic matter off my walls, floors, countertops, kitchen utensils, and toenails just so soused Aunt Sophia can tell me what a good housekeeper I am—for a bachelor. For a bachelor. Good old Aunt Sophia, mistress of the backhanded head-slap. What, all bachelors have to be slobs? Doesn’t anybody remember Felix Unger? The man used to sterilize poker chips … and potato chips, for chrissakes.
Still, I admit I am a lousy housekeeper—yes, even for a bachelor. Remember Felix Unger’s roommate Oscar Madison? Well, I don’t mean to brag, but when it comes to housekeeping, I make Oscar look like Felix. Right down to the spaghetti wallpaper. Al dente. And I’m damned proud of it. Oscar was just a sportswriter. Me? I figure I’m Pulitzer piggish without even breaking a sweat—but watch out if I do. The way I see it, that ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ crap is just that. I mean God gave the whole world a bath, but who did he save? Noah and a boat that had to have stunk to high heaven, right? Looked at in that context, stinking to high heaven has to be a good thing.
Besides, me and the roaches get along just fine.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. A little. There hasn’t actually been a roach in my house since the day before Cousin Earl joined the State Police and the day after Cousin Tammy got put on probation—in wholly unrelated ceremonies, mind you.
Look, all indications are that I’m a soon-to-be iconic figure in the rarified air of immortal literature. And believe you me, that air smells a lot more like shrimp-scampi sweat than Pine Sol, Glade or Lemony Pledge, honey.
I am not, nor will I ever be a scrubbery schlub, and I refuse to be mistaken for one. I write, therefore yesterday’s dried-on egg yolk is totally beneath me—and beneath today’s pancakes, and probably beneath tomorrow’s French Toast, too. But what do I care? I’m a writer.
Listen, we writers have traditionally been held to much, much lower standards when it comes to the pedestrian practice of … environmental policing/dust bunny patrol. I mean, can anyone imagine suggesting Ernest Hemingway Swiffer-swish The Snows of Kilimanjaro off his own kitchen linoleum? Not if you don’t want to sip tapioca through a straw for the rest of your life.
Can you picture Edgar Allan Poe Fabreeze-ing Raven droppings on the sofa? Ha! Nevermore!
Or how about Truman Capote polishing … okay, bad example.
The point is, we writers are a messy lot, and we have no reason to be ashamed of it. We are creators, not cleansers. We have no time for dish rags, dust mops, and toilet brushes the rest of the year, so what’s so special about December? Hell, Santa grants special dispensation to writers, so why can’t Aunt Sophia?
All I’m suggesting, writers, is that we all embrace our inner slovenliness and celebrate it as a perk of the important work we do. Painters slop paint around and nobody raises an eyebrow, right? Well, let’s get everybody used to the fact that writers can slop slop around, too! C’mon, it’ll be fun.
I can’t do this without you, you know. I mean, Aunt Sophia finds one neat writer and the whole scam gets blown into the bathtub … kerplop … you know that, don’t you?
So, we’re all in this together, right? You ain’t going to leave me out on this limb all by myself, right? Right? Hello? Helloooo?
ABOUT LEE ALLEN HILL