By nature, I am a fairly clean and organized person. I’m not going to go so far as to claim to have a spotless house at all times — in fact, my floors could use a good dose of Mr. Clean right now (hey – at least I vacuumed!) But I can’t relax or focus on things if there’s stuff everywhere. Sitting down at my computer to type this post, I had to clear out the spaces in my periphery so as not to be distracted. When I sit on the couch to watch any one of a number of horrible reality shows (curse you, Real Housewives of Whinybitchville!) I need to clear off the coffee table in front of me in order to fully relax. (And by relax I mean curse out loud at these over-privileged princesses who go on vacations that cost more than my house and somehow find a way to fight with everyone around them despite being pampered in one of the most beautiful places on earth.) I never lose socks in the laundry. And I now understand why, as a kid, my mother would scrub the bathroom as we were packing the car for a week’s vacation. What’s worse than coming home to a dirty house???
The reason I’m telling you all this is because there’s an element of shame in being tidy. I’ve come to terms with my organized nature, and it certainly serves me well now as a mother and a homeowner and the hostess of almost all the family holidays. However, when you’re young, there’s nothing romantic about being the girl with the organized locker and freshly made bed. No one’s writing love songs about the girl who always knows exactly where her keys are or has her drawers neat and tidy. There are no sonnets titled “Ode to My Love and Her Immaculate Hospital Corners.” I was always a certain kind of envious of messy friends who stepped over piles of dirty clothes to get to a pocketbook that was overflowing with wrappers or old food or opened cosmetics staining everything. It appeared they were too preoccupied being carelessly cool to worry about trivial things like moving last week’s crusty cereal bowl from their nightstand to the dishwasher. On the other hand, my attention to detail left me feeling nerdy and uptight rather than the casual, haphazard waif I longed to be. I actually tried to be a bit more of a slob, but I couldn’t pull it off — there’s a drastic contradiction in spending forty-five minutes attempting to make your hair appear unintentionally messy. You can’t fake bed head.
So, while I’m giving my kids the usual Saturday morning drill about how I have to clean the kitchen before they can make waffles and mess it up again, they’re listening to a song on the radio about a guy who’s enchanted by a girl because she wears mismatched socks and is always late because she forgets where she parks her car. Which message will they receive?