Our house is spotless.
Well, not quite spotless — we have two teenage kids, and there are places in our house that I’m afraid to go.
But the rest of the house, especially the kitchen and living room, where you can see the TV, has been swept, scrubbed and polished and scrubbed again.
You see, it’s football season, and we’re in the playoffs. Our team is headed to the Super Bowl, but they’ve played some very close games this season — they were even trailing by 10 points heading into the fourth quarter last week. Of course, they came back from a 25-point deficit in last year’s Super Bowl, so 10 points was nothing to worry about, right?
However, my wife, who is as hard-core a football fan as you’re going to find, was worried. And when she gets stressed, she starts cleaning.
As I said, our house, which is always neat and tidy, has been spotless.
She usually starts with any dishes she can find, which she scrubs by hand instead of just rinsing and loading into the dishwasher. The she moves on to the countertops, which also get scrubbed and disinfected, then wiped down again, just for good measure.
After that, it’s on to the floors, which she very likely would already have vacuumed, if not right before the game, then the day before. But in addition to the two teenagers, we have two dogs, and even though they get a thorough brushing at halftime (another of my wife’s stress outlets), there’s always some dog hair to pick up. In fact, I sometimes wonder if they shed during the game because they’re picking up on her stress, and it’s making them nervous.
In any case, once the dishes and counters are as clean as they can get, she moves on the floor, but rather than getting out a broom or Swiffer, she uses her foot, kind of like an umpire cleaning off home plate.
Usually, that’s the extent of her stress cleaning, but last week, Tom Brady and company were still trailing when she finished with the floors. At that point, I turned around to see her cleaning the ceiling. She had found one speck of dust, and was scanning for more.
I’ve tried to help, but mostly I’m told to get out of the way. If I didn’t think it would get me that “I’m not amused” look, I’d put a couple more dishes in the sink or sprinkle some crumbs on the counter.
I’ve also suggested that maybe she should switch loyalties to a team with lower expectations, like, you know, Cleveland. That gets me a look, too.
So now I’m thinking about ways in which I could make that stress work for me. Like, maybe I could casually bring the rear wheel from my mountain bike inside, and she could scrub the gunk off the sprockets. Or maybe I can show her how to wax cross-country skis — it seems to me that scraping glide wax and corking in the kick wax would be a good outlet for all that stress.
If it were a little bit warmer, and we could set the TV up outside, she could even start scraping the old, chipping paint off the side of the house — we’d be prepped and ready for a fresh coat as soon as things thaw out this spring.
In any case, we’ve got one more week of football to go, then Sunday stress levels in our household should drop.
Wait, Vince McMahon just announced the return of the XFL, which will have a season that picks up when the NFL season ends?
Maybe I should put her to work on the canoe I’ve been building for the past 18 years. It’ll be done before the ice is off the lakes …
Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.