Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time- House Cleaning and Head Colds



I awoke from a debilitating weeklong head cold and shuffled out of the bedroom for the first time since my illness. The sight that greeted me almost caused me to crawl back under the covers. In my absence, my husband Brian took over my chores while also working a demanding full time job. The results were not pretty: dishes filled the sink, the dishwasher was a jumbled mess of dirty and clean dishes, dog toys littered the place as if a mad canine decorator had taken over. I swear a pile of laundry growled at me when I walked past. I didn’t dare open the refrigerator door.

I sighed. I couldn’t stand the idea of returning to my bed but neither can I tolerate a messy house. I was raised by a father who would wake me up at night if I left my shoes under the coffee table. I would sleepwalk down the hallway, pick them up and put them in my closet “where they go.” It’s a miracle I turned out as balanced as I did.

I spent the next several hours tackling the mess. I ran the dishwasher, emptied it and filled it with the dishes from the sink. I poked the laundry pile with a broom. A cat dashed out. I knew it had growled at me. Satisfied that I wasn’t hallucinating from fever I washed clothes. I wrangled the dog toys into the toy basket. After taking two painkillers and a deep breath, I cracked the refrigerator door and peeked inside. Disgusted I slammed the door closed. That would have to wait until I was feeling better or until I could afford to buy a new refrigerator. I made a note to order pizza for dinner.

After all the toys, laundry and dishes were in their proper place, I spent the next few hours dusting and vacuuming. When I was through, I surveyed my work. The place glowed with clean freshness. I smiled. It was time for a well-deserved hot bath.

I emerged from the bath feeling great. My cold was on the mend and my house was impeccable. I opened the bedroom door to find my husband had returned home from work. I shrieked in dismay; dishes filled the sink, dirty clothes besieged the hallway. It looked as though the basket of dog toys had exploded. It wasn’t that Brian couldn’t handle my work and his. It was that Brian was a slob!

“Oh, hi, honey,” Brian said brightly. “I see you’re feeling better.”

“I was,” I muttered. Defeated, I returned to my pillow.

Nora Blithe

Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at or contact her at