My mother and I agree on many things.
For instance, a great pair of new shoes is as satisfying as really good sex.
Probably she wouldn't put it that way, but still, I think it is safe to say that shoes are an area in which we generally share the same views. They've got to be fabulous, comfortable and
on sale cost less than all the money you have.
Politically we are also compatible, tending to favor policies and policy makers that are not completely fucking insane. Again, she might put it differently, but that would be just semantic.
But there is one issue upon which we cannot agree, no matter how completely wrong she is.
It goes like this:
SK: Would you please stop cleaning the floor?
Mom: I just want to get this bit. Your floor looks terrible.
SK: It doesn't matter.
Mom: Of course it matters.
SK: You could spend three hours on your knees cleaning this floor and within 24 hours, my family will have reduced your efforts to nothing. It would be as if the floor had never been cleaned.
Mom: That's ridiculous, the floor would be cleaner. How can you say the floor would not be cleaner?
SK: Trust me. If I took a photograph of the floor after you cleaned it, and took another photograph 24 hours later, you would not be able to tell the photographs apart.
Mom: But it would be cleaner.
SK: It would not be cleaner. It would not even look cleaner.
Mom: It looks terrible.
SK: Yes, and it will look exactly the same tomorrow. Except you will not have spent three hours on your knees.
Mom: It will only take a minute.
SK: You think everything only takes a minute. Nothing takes a minute.
Mr. Kamikaze: Um, should we change the subject?
But of course we don't. We bicker over the definition of "appearance" which my mother insists has nothing to do with cleanliness, even after she repeatedly uses the word "look," which clearly shows that --
Mr. Kamikaze: STOP IT. STOP IT NOW.
But I can't. It is just too important.
I raise the issue today,
so that I can have the last word because my mother's constant harping advice has had its intended effect. The day after she leaves, I look at the kitchen floor. It is dirty. I never said it wasn't dirty.
I get down on my hands and knees and vacuum, scrub and wipe up three weeks (months?) of dirty footprints, dust balls, popcorn kernels, pet hair, food particles and things unidentifiable without forensic assistance.
She is right. It looks better.
For almost an entire hour. Then Mr. Kamikaze drags up a dozen boxes of Christmas decorations from the basement and piles them up on the floor. Each box is like a time capsule of Christmases past, 15 years worth of pine needles and silver glitter leaking out of the corners and spreading like confetti across the floor.
Photo: Rick McCawley Images