My transgression is not the kind you can repent or atone for. Besides most devout non-believers don’t do guilt. It can’t even be corrected by my favorite solution, get to work and fix it.
It has nothing to do with age. I’ve been a clutter bug since forever. I’m a helpless, hopeless, clutter bug. I really dislike clutter but clutter likes me. It clings to me like sticky pink bubble gum on the underside of a desk. I think it’s been with me always. It drove my neat and tidy mother nuts. She’d straighten out the mess one day and it’d be back a shambles the next. Fortunately she was a sweet, good natured mother — most of the time — and we’d have long conversations about how to keep things tidy. We’d work together happily, my mother, and me, setting things straight. Cleaning things up. Admiring the good work. Patting each other on the back. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” she’d say. But nothing worked. I tried. Honest. I did my best. But it didn’t last. My poor mother.
We compromised when I suggested I stuff the stuff under the beds and, once a month we’d diligently restore order. Actually we loved working together. We whistled while we worked.
She’d check my room everyday, pleased at its apparent neatness, and as long as she didn’t look under the bed, or detect an odor, she was happy. She gave that up when I started collecting lizards and frogs. First of all they refused to stay put. Once she came in to find a large frog/lizard convention assembled on any flat and handy surface.
She put her foot down — just missing a slither — and no matter how hard I tried to convince her I was studying them, or that more lengthy lectures — I was trying to learn their lingo — would convince them they should stay put, we gathered the critters and found them all good homes where they could eat lots of flies.
Do any of you have a similar personality disturbance? Or weird kids? Young parents take heart. They’ll probably turn out OK. I did. Sort of.
Old guys? Got a pile of stuff that refuses to vanish? Toss a pretty scarf on top of the mess and call it artsy. Or place some cleaning tools around it, artfully, like you’re in the process. A little whisk broom, a darling dustpan, an empty box or cutesy wastebasket.
If you don’t have or can’t afford to use a dishwasher and the sink begins to over flow, rinse out the top debris and hope nobody checks the bottom. Have little signs that say: No white gloves. Or suggest the clean freaky visitor drop by soon and help clear the muddle.
But remember, you gotta get serious once in awhile or else you’ll have to burn the house down.
• Bettejo Dux is author of “The Scam: A madcap romp through North Shore Kauai.”