Shape up or ship out

I consider myself an easy-going, flexible gal. To me, the detail of how something is accomplished seems less important than the end result. But when it comes to keeping house, I turn into a combination drill sergeant and Martha Stewart wannabe, becoming particular about not only what but also how things are done. This is especially true when I am preparing to entertain guests.

During the ordinary, day-to-day grind, Max plays the role of willing and helpful partner. He pitches in where he sees opportunity, washes dishes, cooks dinner, and always takes out the trash. But even he knows to vacate the premises in the hours leading up to an event being hosted at our house.

Unfortunately, Max couldn’t take his leave this weekend. With guests flying in from around the country to attend our Caribbean party, I was in full Sergeant Martha mode. We had invited twenty-five people over to enjoy a traditional Greek feast, and I was determined to cater the entire event myself. Spanikopita, pastitso, Mediterranean-style chicken and salmon, Greek salad, humus, tsaziki, melitzanosalata--Greek cooking is labor intensive. In fact, I started cooking Friday at noon and didn’t finish until 4pm Saturday.

This left poor Max to do housework. As I layered a phyllo dough crust for baklava, I heard the vacuum cleaner hum and marched upstairs to supervise. Sergeant Martha was very unhappy with what she discovered.

“Honey, WHAT are you doing?” This wasn’t a question, and Max knew it. He turned off the sweeper and looked at me like a midshipman who was failing a surprise inspection.

“Why are you vacuuming before you’ve dusted?” I continued. “It’s a useless activity because after you dust, the carpet is only going to get dirty again.”

I’m sure Max thought I was being ridiculous. But like any good swab jockey, he knew better than to talk back to an angry sergeant.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know there was an order to house cleaning.” Max replied, managing not to sound sarcastic.

“Of course there is! First you dust objects that rest on the furniture, then you wipe off the furniture, and only then do you vacuum the rugs.”

Max didn't question the logic. In fact, he was turning to fetch a dust cloth, when I noticed another deficiency in his efforts. He had made up our bed, but the sheet corners could be seen from underneath the comforter.

“You should use hospital corners when making a proper bed.”

At this point, Max had every right to two throw both the dust clothe and vacuum cleaner my way, but instead he patiently watched as I demonstrated how to make the bed. The drill sergeant in me could have continued to pick apart his efforts all afternoon, but fortunately for Max, I heard the oven timer go off. The pastitso was done.

Later that night, as the party winded down to just a few guests, Max joined me in the kitchen, where I had been stationed most of the night.

“Ensign Mahmoud reporting for duty, ma’am,” he joked.

“I’m sorry for barking orders at you, Sweetness. You wouldn't think of going AWOL on me, would you?”

Grabbing a towel to help dry the dishes, Max took a moment before responding. “Nah, never. In fact, I’m thinking of re-upping once my tour of duty is over.”

Max may not be the perfect housekeeper, but one thing is for sure: only Sergeant Martha needs shape up, or else ship out.


The Daily Randi said...


I have been So Busy and Blog Deprived that I didn't realize you had Gotten Married until just now! I just read through all your wedding posts and I am So Thrilled for you! As a Long Time Reader, I am really glad to see this Special Day finally arrive for you.



utenzi said...

Max needs some hazard pay. That duty of his sounds above and beyond, Diane. *whew*

running42k said...

That food sounds great.

SassyAssy said...

Sounds like you are back in form.

AmyD said...

What a sweetheart he is! You've got yourself a keeper, Diane. I'm so thrilled for you!

And I hate to add insult to injury, but have you ever thought of the possibility that when you vacuum last, it only just kicks and blows up more dust onto the furniture again?... I am only playing devil's advocate, because C.L. and I have had this SAME exact conversation before when he went to vacuum before I had a chance to dust, and that was his question to ME. You can imagine how disturbed I was that he just might have had a damn point... ;o)

Congrats again! Hope you had a blast at the Caribbean party!

Dan-E said...

i heard whips cracking while i was reading this and i kinda got scared. then i remembered indiana jones was on tv and i felt better. so um, never mind.

Just a trumpet player said...

That's exactly why I have a housekeeper : I could never figure out the right order to do those darn things !!