Growing up, one of the beliefs that was ingrained in my soul was that we just couldn’t have anything nice.
Granny said it often, maybe hourly.
Anything that happened seemed to support this belief as if it were some self-fulfilling prophecy.
Everything Granny seemed proud of usually met some unfortunate circumstances.
Her second most supported belief was that cleaning could be a waste of time.
Don’t get me wrong — Granny religiously did her laundry, swept and mopped, and scrubbed the bathroom.
But things like dusting or even clearing the clutter off a side table was not something she was going to worry herself with.
“Just push the stuff over and make you a spot,” she would encourage visitors as they’d come in the living room.
Her sewing occupied most of the space, along with about a year’s worth of old National Enquirers, newspapers, and church bulletins.
It drove me crazy. Especially when my friends came over.
“Don’t you think you should maybe clean some of this stuff up?” I asked her one day.
She grunted at me.
“It would look nicer.”
She grunted again and continued with her sewing.
“You think that, do you?”
She pulled her thread through the fabric and then gave me a weary, knowing look.
“I did that once.”
“Cleaned some of that stuff up,” she said, gesturing towards the other end of the couch.
“See there — you don’t remember it. That’s why I don’t do it.”
“So, because I can’t remember it, that’s why you don’t clean it?”
That made no sense to me, but it was Granny Logic and there was no arguing it.
“I ain’t wasting my time cleaning stuff that’s just gonna get right back a mess. I only got so many more minutes left in this world, I ain’t spending them doing that stupid junk. It’s nonsense.”
Keep in mind, she was probably in her 70s when she made this declaration and she died when she was in her 90s. She had plenty of minutes she could have cleaned.
“Is that why you don’t dust?” I asked.
“That,” she said, “And we’re allergic. You and me both. Don’t go doing that craziness your Mama does with her Pledge and Murphy’s Oil. That stuff gives me a horrible headache.”
Whether it was the dust or the cleaning products that triggered Granny’s allergies, we never knew. Any time she saw Mama take out her Murphy’s, she let into having a sneezing fit and saying how that stuff was probably melting everything from her sinus passages on up.
After making a solemn vow to not dust — and one I have upheld for many decades, I might add — I was still intrigued by why Granny thought certain tasks were a waste of time.
When someone came over, she wanted to give them something delicious to eat.
She wanted to make them something lovely.
Why she didn’t want to go that extra step of trying to make things look nicer was beyond me.
“I just ain’t gonna do something that for one, no one notices until it’s not done; and two, that’s just gonna get back a mess anyway.”
Again — Granny Logic.
“You clean the potty don’t you? People use that.”
She snorted at me. “Of course, I clean the toilet, I ain’t some heathen! But I ain’t gonna have a house that don’t look lived in.”
Believe me: our house looked undoubtedly lived in.
While Granny would argue she wasn’t going to waste her time doing something that wasn’t worth it, Mama would say there was no point in cleaning if you weren’t going to dust. It may have been Mama’s diet pills talking at the time — it was the ’80s — but that woman thought dusting was the best thing you could do.
“If you want the dadblamed house to stay perfect after you clean it, then I reckon we just all need to leave,” Granny declared one day. “’Cause ain’t no sense in doing all this dusting and sorting and throwing away nonsense as long as we live here. It’s gonna get right back in the shape it was in about two hours.”
She was kind of right in a way.
This, of course, created a war within myself that has raged since I have moved away from the Redheads.
I was so torn. I wanted a clean, organized home, but at the same time, didn’t want to waste my time doing things that were just going to get back messy again.
So, I did what most people would do. The bare minimum.
Thankfully, my teen has taken the initiative to clean some things around the cabin, even without being asked.
He has discovered how any flat surface seems to be where everything gets piled, so he has taken to clearing off the table and the kitchen island, putting things away in their proper location or tossing them if needed.
“I just cleaned this the other day!” he exclaimed as he moved stuff off the island again. “You people need to pick up after yourselves better.”
I sighed. He’s so young; just think of all the time he has left to waste on these kinds of things.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.