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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Cleaning Frenzy

That's right: there's a cleaning frenzy going on. At least, that's what I'm told. Women (mostly women) are using their free time during the pandemic to clean linen closets piled with sheets, blankets, pillowcases, extra pillows, cloth napkins, and bedspreads that should have been dumped years ago. Bedroom chests of drawers have never been so organized. Underwear neatly folded in the top drawer (socks, as well), summer t-shirts in the second, winter tees and light sweaters in the third, PJs and heavier socks best for trudging in the snow or rain in the fourth, and any combination of stuff in the bottom.

Then there's the main clothes' closet. I don't know about you, but mine is not one of those walk-ins big enough as a guest bedroom. Mine does have space to walk in and out with double rows of hanging rods on each side and shelves for sweaters, shoes, anything else left over. (Think swimming fins, back scratchers, sewing kits, a bag or two of your mother's jewelry that you wouldn't be caught dead wearing.)

I was on my hands and knees in said closet searching for the other black Relaxfit shoe I'd bought at DSW last year. I found it, buried under a blouse that had fallen off a hanger that should have been used for a pair of pants instead of a cotton top. I put the shoe next to its mate. It fell into the abyss again. Okay, it was that time, time to weed out the shoes I'd never wear again and donate them to Goodwill. I hadn't worn the blue, might I add quite expensive, light blue Remontes that my sister had given me for my birthday a few years back. But I might wear them to garden, if and when I could garden again. May has been a cruel month here in the midwest.

As I sat there on the carpeted floor, I looked up at the pile of sweaters. Several were folded (if you can call them that) inside out. It had been too much damn trouble to unfold and refold. A sleeve from another sweater, the light purple and black checked, draped over the front of the shelves like a severed arm. I'd have to stand up, throw all the sweaters on the floor, and replace them in neat piles, all right side out.

Too much trouble. After all, I had weeks, even months, to get the job done.

I began to imagine a government-mandated Department of Cleanliness with workers going door to door to check on the state of closets, shelves, and drawers. From my vantage point, such an undertaking sounded more achievable than testing enough Americans for the coronavirus. And in a moment of panic, I knew, kneeling there, that I wouldn't pass muster. Maybe I'd be fined. Worse yet, I might be sent to the Michigan Capitol in Lansing and forced to wear an American flag bandanna and carry a pistol. (I was born and raised in Michigan, so this seemed an appropriate punishment.)

I turned around and surveyed my husband's closet that resembled rows of displays in a high-end men's store. Surprising, because his office looked like it had been raided by a group of FBI agents straight out of "Homeland," which, by the way, I am binging during our mandated staycation.

The point: my husband would receive a star in the mail from the Department of Cleanliness. (Well, that is, he'd receive his star once the twenty-two million Americans received their unemployment checks.)

I don't care if I don't get one of those stars. But the thought of standing among all those paid protesters on the steps of the Michigan capitol is the kick in the butt I need to start cleaning without a moment to spare.


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