RSS Feed

Mister, Clean

In order for a marriage to work there has to be an equitable division of labor that capitalizes on each person’s strengths. It’s helpful if those skills are complementary. Two people who like to cook, but none who like to do dishes is a recipe for a messy kitchen and frequent arguments. When Oregano and I got married we signed a ketubah, a Jewish marriage license. It is written in English and in Hebrew. I have no idea what the Hebrew says, but my Dad read it and assured me I wasn’t agreeing to a lifetime of servitude. Whenever we encounter an unpleasant household task, I inform Oregano that it falls squarely into the list of his responsibilities as outlined by the Hebrew portion of the ketubah.

For the most part, Oregano and I have settled into a division of labor that helps our home run harmoniously. I cook dinner. He washes the dishes. I do the laundry. He folds it. I plan our vacations. He carries the luggage. There are some chores that have evolved into solo endeavors. Oregano is responsible for all vermin and rodent removal. This includes, but is not limited to, things that fly, crawl and scamper. When we were newlyweds our kitten caught and killed 3 mice that had made the unfortunate decision to visit our apartment and raid his food bowl. Proud of his accomplishment, Scooter brought a trophy to us while we were sleeping in bed. Oregano chivalrously leapt to his feet, collected the recently deceased prey and then had the kindness to lie to me, so that I could fall back to sleep.

On occasion, when I am home alone and have come under attack by some creepy crawly, I’ve had to take care of business myself. It is unpleasant and there is usually some squealing on my part, but I get the job done. The act of killing a giant spider, caterpillar or stink bug is far better than the alternative which would be to leave the intruder to wander freely through my home until Oregano arrives to do his duty.

While I have stepped up to the plate when necessary, Oregano has not reciprocated. In 18 years of marriage, he has never once cleaned the shower.
“Why don’t you ever clean the shower?” I asked after a few years.

“How dirty can it be? We use soap and shampoo when we’re in there. That should be enough to keep it clean,” was his reply.

I continued to be the only one who scrubbed the shower and brought up the issue again a year later.

“How am I supposed to see how dirty it is? I don’t wear my glasses in there, so I can’t see soap scum,” was his next excuse.

I couldn’t argue with his logic, flawed as it was, so I changed tactics and decided to play a game of chicken with the soap scum in the shower. I purposely held off cleaning the shower to see which one of us would flinch first. I lasted 5 days. Oregano hadn’t even noticed we were playing.

Maybe a less labor intensive method would entice him. I tried employing the use of one of those self-cleaning shower systems. It hangs on the wall and as you exit the shower you push the button which sprays cleaner on the walls to do the work for you. Oregano never remembered to push the button.

All of this changed on November 8, 2013. I had the day off from work and was in the kitchen having a leisurely breakfast while Oregano was upstairs getting ready for work. When he came downstairs to pack his lunch he casually announced that he had cleaned the shower. I almost choked on my toast.

There was no fanfare. The sun did not explode, yet the world I had always known was forever changed.

“Did you just say you cleaned the shower?” I asked once the shock wore off and I regained the ability to speak. “Who are you and what have you done with my husband? The man I married would never clean the shower. You’re an impostor!”

“Yep, I cleaned the shower. I noticed the soap scum, so I cleaned it,” he said matter-of-factly as if this wasn’t a once a decade occurrence.

“When you say you cleaned the shower, did you use cleaner or just splash some soapy water around during your shower?” I still didn’t believe him.

“No. I used the cleaner with the bleach, but I think I might have missed a few spots,” he said.  “Why do you look so surprised?”

“I’m surprised because as long as we’ve been married you’ve never even thought about cleaning the shower, let alone actually pick up a sponge and take action. This is a momentous day in our marriage. I just want to give it proper deference and acknowledgement. The next time this happens again, we’ll be in our sixties. I want to be sure we mark the occasion.”

Oregano left for work. I finished my breakfast and went upstairs to celebrate. I pulled back the shower curtain to reveal a gleaming tub. Then I stepped in to bathe in a clean shower that, for the first time, had not been scrubbed by me.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

53 responses »

  1. That Oregano is a wily one, isn’t he? Now you will refrain from asking because he plum went and did it without your prompt…which leads to nothing but a dirty shower. Oh, a wily one indeed.
    Secondly, why do all cats bring their murders to their owners while they are in bed. It has happened to so many cat-owning friends of mine too

    • I never thought of Oregano’s miraculous cleaning as a ploy, but I see your logic. Now I wll be wise to his trickery 🙂

      Cats bring the fresh kill to their owners as a “prize.” As for why it always seems to be when they’re in bed, my only guess is that the rodents come out to play at night. The cat kills them, then, rather than wait until morning, he brings the gift directly to his parents while they’re sleeping.

      Thanks for reading, commenting and subscribing 🙂

  2. So true as I cleaned for pre-Thanksgiving company and Mom’s visit that is like a kind hearted inspection.

  3. Awwwww… Oregano always surprises you in such nice ways!!!!

  4. Yea, Oregano. We also have a division of labor in our house. Now if I could only get Dave to clean out the garage. 🙂

  5. LOL Awesome. That’s when your marriage is really on its way. When one of us goes beyond the signed agreement. And the beauty of it is, it really is more blessed to give than to receive.

  6. Hubby rarely surprises me like that. But he did clean the little box corner in the garage last week, bless him. Even though Blackie the cat has an underbed box for his litter (he is a big boy) he still misses on a regular basis. So cleaning that corner is quite the job, one I don’t want to do! Well, unless I have a kevlar body suit, gloves, and a respirator!

  7. Why do I have the suspicious feeling that we have not heard the end of this story?

  8. One more thing – my comment about the shower getting cleaner every time we use it was inspired by a Dilbert comic strip from November 24, 1995, where Wally claimed the same of his bath towels. Ironically, this was shortly after Paprika and I were married. Try the link below to see this comic near the bottom of the page.

  9. Geesh – if I knew this would create such a buzz, I would have cleaned the shower years ago.

    By the way, did Paprika mention that I’ve cleaned the cats’ litterboxes over 2,500 times since we’ve been married? (not that I’m counting). Ask her how many times she’s done that. Just kidding – I don’t mind helping around the house to give Paprika more time to write blog posts and entertain her readers.

  10. I am not going to respond to this article as any reply might tend to incriminate me and there laws protecting me from doing that. Isn’t Miranda great…..(thank you Ernesto).

  11. I can just see your husband’s big and wonderful smile!

  12. I am impressed! My husband has never – in our 12 years of marriage – cleaned the shower. He does, however, cook and do the dishes, so I guess I will keep quiet. For now! 😉

  13. Hmmmm….do you suspect he did something wrong and is trying to make amends? I would hold out for diamonds!

  14. We laughed so much at Oregano’s logic about using soap and shampoo in the shower to take care of the cleaning! Something Basil would say!! xoxo

  15. I’m going to have to use that Ketubah line on my husband! Love it!

  16. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    OMG Paprika, when you figure out why this happened, can you PLEASE share your secret with the rest of us? (‘Cause, in 29 years, it’s never once happened here):

  17. LOL! That’s awesome! And insanely funny!

  18. As always, you manage to put a huge smile on my face. I am so glad to hear that Oregano is finally “playing nice in the sandbox” when it comes to the shower……although it would require a lot of scrubbing if you had to deal with lots of sand in the bathtub. 😉

  19. Do you rent this man out?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: