Monday, May 23, 2011

Love and Clorox: Why having a Cleaning Lady is Risky Business

Poor Maria Shriver…she was all I could think about this week. As I watched her on Oprah’s finale, trying to smile and act like everything was OK, I thought about how devastated she must be. First she had to watch him run for Governor, then she has to stand by him while he got caught groping women, and then, to top it all off, he goes and has a love child with their cleaning lady…not a fun week to be Mrs. Schwarzenegger.

She has a right to be really, really mad. Think of all the time she spent getting Botox, plastic surgery, hair extensions, acrylic nails and not to mention starving herself, only to find out NONE of it mattered. She probably used to say things like, “I would love to have a margarita, but they have SO many calories, Arnold likes women that are in shape.” No Maria, sadly he doesn’t. As a matter of fact, you could have let it rip. You could have gone ahead and eaten some chips, had a bowl of ice cream, or hell, funneled a Pina Colada, it didn’t matter. He was banging the cleaning lady…and I know why.

A few years ago, I came home from work exhausted and tired. It had been an unusually rough day. As I slowly opened the door and took a deep breath, I was overwhelmed by the scent of what I imagine heaven smells like. As I took another long inhale, my lungs were filled with the intoxicating smell of Pine Sol and Clorox. As I looked around my house, a warm feeling began to fill my heart. With shiny eyes and joy in my soul, I cherished the fact that my house was clean, spotless, and free of dust bunnies. The best part was, I didn’t make that way, a woman named Claudia did. In that moment, I fell in love with my cleaning lady. Arnold I feel your pain.

My cleaning lady has been with me for over six years. You might think the feelings would have dimmed, but no, the love affair has only gotten more intense. It seems as if every year, my love for her grows deeper and deeper. Hiding these feeling from everyone has been exhausting, but I knew I couldn’t let my family know how I felt about her. Would they think I didn’t like to clean, couldn’t clean, or didn’t know how to clean? If so, what kind of woman does that make me? I was afraid it would wreck everything. Arnold, I understand your fear.

Luckily for me, unlike Arnold, she isn’t in my home everyday. I don’t know if I could have handled that. But every other Monday, around 4pm, I find myself happier than I ever thought I could be. A few weeks ago, right after she left, I had to get something out of my closet. When I opened it up and saw all of my fitted sheets, the ones with those stretchy corners, folded into perfectly neat squares, stacked one on top of the other, I could barely contain my joy. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking, “She is so AMAZING! How does she do it? How can I get her to be in my home more often? What did I do to deserve this?” These questions still keep me up at night. Arnold, I understand how she changed your life.

In terms of us seeing each other, it varies from week to week. There are times when I get home before she leaves and times when I am just left with her memory…a clean refrigerator door, clothes hung perfectly on hangers, or shoes lined up in neat little rows. At those moment, happiness fills my heart and the love I have for her takes my breathe away. When she hasn’t been around for a week or so, I get nervous. I start counting down the days until I will see her again. My life begins to be about when she will be back, what she will do, and how good it will feel when it is done. As I think about these things, I realized that Arnold and I have a lot in common. I assume he also thought he couldn’t live without his cleaning lady. It is not easy to love two people so deeply. Arnold, I understand how you feel.

A few weeks ago, I walked into my bedroom and the smell of Pledge nearly brought me to my knees. Is there any better smell on Earth? That smell, along with the fact that she had wiped down ALL of my refrigerator shelves and organized my canned food by height, left me practically speechless. I wanted to find this woman, kiss her, hug her and tell her to never go away. If she were to have walked in that room, I might have physically assaulted her. I might have grabbed her and said the things Arnold said to his cleaning lady, “I love you. I can’t live without you. You are my everything.” Arnold, I don’t know if I would have gone as far as wanting to have a baby with her, but you obviously just got carried away.

I am grateful that my cleaning lady is female…I think it is safer for me that way. If I had to watch a man clean my baseboards, we might have some infidelity on our hands. The way she is able to take my dirty, messy house, and turn it into a hotel room, with tight sheets, mopped floors, and lined up shampoo bottles is a gift that I will never tire of receiving. Arnold obviously felt the same way.

The truth is everyone loves the people in their lives that make their world run smoother. Whether it’s the gardener, the maid, the nanny, the secretary, or the UPS man. Nothing is sexier than having someone help you do something you couldn’t or wouldn’t want to do yourself. The days I love my husband the most are days he has done some type of manual labor I could never do on my own. Nothing turns me on more than watching him lift something heavy or hoist a large storage box into the garage. I can’t help myself...I fall in love all over again. The other day, as I watched him fill a hole with dirt and carry a pile of old tree branches to a trashcan, I screamed out the window, “I have never wanted you more than right now!” To that he replied, “You are one sick woman.”

The truth is I believe if I ever ended up homeless, I would still find someone to clean my shopping cart. So Arnold, you made a big mistake and what you did was wrong. But I want you to know, we understand how it started...everyone loves their cleaning lady.

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