When it comes to cleaning and organizing, everyone has a Dread List—what’s on yours? Is it filing your quarterly taxes? Cleaning the blinds? Organizing the cupboards?
I’m always amazed when I hear other peoples’ Dread Lists. A couple weeks ago, at my sister’s wedding, I was talking to one of my sister’s best friends and fellow bridesmaid, and our respective Dread Lists came up. “You know what I hate more than anything else?” she said. “Dusting. I’d rather clean the toilet than dust!”
I was surprised that dusting made it to the top of her list; while I’m no world-class duster myself, I’ve always thought of dusting as one of those happy, carefree chores, one of the few that required a cute accessory. I remember being five or six and posing in the mirror with a feather duster. I’d poise the duster over my shoulder fetchingly and tilt my head so that the feathers brushed my cheek. I’d open my mouth in a maniacal smile, and dance through the living room on tip-toes, dusting tables and knick-knacks with abandon.
The part about toilets didn’t surprise me; by and large, cleaning the bathroom doesn’t seem to make it on people’s Dread Lists. Cleaning a bathroom is a fairly straight forward endeavor: few decisions need be made. The basic tools for the job are inexpensive and easy enough to use. And it’s easy: wiping, polishing, scrubbing, and mopping, while tedious and labor-intensive, don’t take a lot of concentration. Because bathrooms tend to be small, cleaning goes relatively quickly. You see the results of your efforts sooner rather than later.
What I do hate are errands--any kind of errand. There are no good errands, only errands that are somewhat less odious than others. Even doing things like choosing flowers at the garden center or shopping for clothes are on my Dread List. Grocery shopping is not entirely awful if I’m in the mood for it, but I’d categorize going to the hardware store, getting the car washed, or dropping off library books as bad, terrible, and worse. There are reasons why I haven’t had a library card in 14 years: it’s cheaper to just buy the book.
A while back, faced with the prospect of splitting up the household chores, I gave my husband a choice: you can either clean the toilet, I said, or you can go to the hardware store, you choose. He regarded me a long moment, completely motionless. “Is that a trick question?” he said.
Sometimes the best way to deal with your Dread List is to appeal to someone else’s.