17 September 2005


ALINE: Zorah is very good, and very clean, and honest, and quite, quite sober in her habits: and that is worth far more than beauty, dear Sir Marmaduke.

DR. DALY: Yes; beauty will fade and perish, but personal cleanliness is practically undying, for it can be renewed whenever it discovers symptoms of decay.

W.S. Gilbert, The Sorcerer

Dusting - like making beds - is one of those chores that are seemingly undone as fast as they are done. One can use Endust or Pledge and grab some of the dust, but so much of it ends up in the air and settles back as soon as one moves on to the next dusty object, like flushed birds settling back into a tree. But still I dust. Not very often and not as often as my grandmother would have thought appropriate, but I do dust. And a couple of times a year I gear up to dust the top floor of David's house. (Note: David's house is at all times and in all places tidier than mine. It's just dusty.)

I dislike dusting less than he does, so I gather up the supplies (because while he does not enjoy dusting, he is well equipped for it) - Endust, a feather duster, a cloth, and damp paper towels - and have at it. Some of the surfaces are easy - spray, wipe, and go - and others are filled with enough tchotchkes to make my little old lady St. Louis relatives proud. And I'm lazy enough that tchotchke land is given a thorough feather tornado which removes the dust from the knickknacks and puts it gleefully into the air. The areas around the electronics have grey felt shrouds that are so satisfying to remove. Look! Wood!

My mother is a member of the anti-dusting crowd, so I used to cluck at her and dust bits of her house. Of course, she also doesn't believe in bedmaking, so she's obviously morally lax. She once told me that the only two people in the world who cared if her bed was made were me and my grandmother. Probably true, but even so, an unmade bed looks like an unmade bed.

Bed making, dusting, dish washing, weed pulling - all of these are impermanent, but the payoff is the immediate satisfaction, which - like personal cleanliness - can be renewed whenever it discovers symptoms of decay. So this morning I have been dusting. I didn't get the entire top floor, but at least the bedroom would make my grandmother spectre happy.

And maybe knowing that David's house is not only tidier than mine but now less dusty than mine will encourage me to dust at home tomorrow.

1 comment:

Hjalti said...

Dusting? I am very scared.