Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fish and throw pillows

I really hate cleaning. I spent my entire childhood cleaning (not to rip on my mom, as she'll be the first to tell you she's calmed down over the years when it comes to dusting and vacuuming). Everyday when I got home from school, there was some set of chores to be done. Not a bad thing when you live in a normal sized house, but when you live in a gigantic converted funeral parlor, it's a lot of ground to cover. And a house of that magnitude takes a contribution from everyone to keep clean, so I spent a good chunk of after school time cleaning one thing or another.

I've heard many people say they were scarred by certain aspects of their childhoods. I'll be the first to admit my childhood was far from idyllic, but I'm certainly who I am because of it. But cleaning today made me realize I have a few scars that I'm not sure will ever go away. Though if these are the worst of it, I think I got off pretty darn good.

1. I hate the vacuum cleaner. I loathe it. I hate getting it out, and while I don't particularly mind the pushing it around part, I can't stand when I have to use the attachments on furniture. We had this huge blue sectional couch, and my mom had a million throw pillows, so when it came time to vacuum the couch (a necessity when you have two kids, or the crumbs will overtake you), there were a million little pillows to vacuum and rearrange. This also explains my aversion to large couches and throw pillows.

2. While I keep a can of Pledge under the sink, I rarely take it out and use it. I spent so much time dusting furniture that the smell of Pledge triggers a sense of dread. It wasn't that there was a mass amount to pledge, but we had these wood tables with glass tops, so you had to Pledge the wood and Windex the glass, and if you got Pledge on the glass, you had to basically start over. And I know Elisa's laughing at that, because I do believe she has that table in her living room. I am so repulsed by the scent of Pledge that I bought a feather duster instead. Which also has the benefit of making me feel like a sexy French maid each time I use it.

3. My dad went on a fishing trip with some church friends one time, and this has caused two scars at least. The first being the large fish he caught that we had to eat for weeks. It had tiny little bones in it, so now I'm constantly afraid that eating fish will cause me to swallow little bones. The second is that while camping on this trip, there was a tornado that knocked over our pop-up camper and dragged it several yards. The tornado would have taken it completely had the camper not been hooked up to a hose. I hate tornadoes and storms. That is partly why I don't camp. And why I hide in the closet whenever the wind starts.

4. After many Sundays helping my dad with his paper route (you know, one of those ones you drive to do that has hundreds of customers), I can no longer stand the smell or feel of newsprint. And I love the Sunday paper, but I have to set it across the room and go get one section at a time, then lay it out in front of me and turn the page while holding onto the teeny, tiniest corner. This process also involves coffee to overpower the smell.

5. I can never own any glass tables. I know I covered one particular table earlier, but this goes into glass tables in general, especially dining tables. They never, ever, ever get clean. It's a waste of Windex to even try. When Jere said he had a solid oak table, I rejoiced. My parents had a glass table, and I would always try to clean it after dinner. After my little sister had eaten and smeared food all over it.

6. Church basements creep me out. Our church's basement was always cold, and occasionally a bat would sneak in and fly around. I used to walk over to the church and practice piano, and I can remember how freezing and eerie and quiet it was. Actually, I didn't know about this particular feeling of dread until we walked into my sister-in-law's anniversary party at her church a couple of weeks ago, and the room reminded me so much of our old church basement that my skin started to crawl.

7. After years of my mother perming and teasing my brunette locks, I am now scared to death of big hair. The early 90's did not look good on me.

I laugh at that list, because these innocuous things aren't anything but normal childhood experiences that burst into full-blown, ridiculous phobias as I aged. Not to mention these scars as I call them are attached to fond memories of my parents as I was growing up. My mom with the tables and the couch and the throw pillows and the cleaning, well, they're simply a testament to her impeccable taste. Seriously, the woman can look at a white room with 70's shag carpet and make it into a masterpiece, a talent I sorely wish was genetic. And even though I really do blame my dad for my hatred and fear of fresh fish (sorry, dad), I also know he's the reason I love coffee, sourdough pancakes, multi-vitamins, Dan Seals, talk radio, my pocket knife, singing, and cowboy cookies.

Today's lesson: It is amazing how even the tiniest piece of your childhood can shape who you become. I thank my parents for my talents and quirks, even if I still wince when I see someone with giant hair (a problem compounded now that I live in the South).

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