Waiting for Hurricane Bill

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Saturday Mornings with Froot Loops


I had big plans for Saturday mornings this summer: an early jog, followed by an outdoor shower, then coffee and an hour or two of writing before Bloodies and the beach. Sounds delightful, don’t you think?

That’s not how it happened.

Rather, for three hours every Saturday morning I’ve been vacuuming and mopping, washing and disinfecting. You see, the old gal who cleaned my rental house in Dewey Beach between the 10:30 am checkouts and the 2:00 pm check-ins called right before Memorial Day to say she needed an assistant.

This self-proclaimed “man magnet” was a cleaning dynamo with an uncanny ability to sweep out dust balls and tardy tenants with her broom. She was a firm believer in the power of “White Lightning,” and I don’t mean moonshine. What this product contained and where she got it, I didn’t care. All I know is the floors, kitchen, bathrooms, and oven were spotless. She claimed the stuff could clean automotive parts, patio furniture, grills, and carpet stains.

I should have retained such a talent, but in a moment of weakness, I thought I’d save some money and do it myself. That lapse in judgment, my friends, is why I’ve spent the past twelve weeks picking up Cheerios and Froot Loops.

Will someone explain to me why I find the torus-shaped pieces everywhere – on rugs, in beds, under sofa cushions, clinging to chintz? I went online to see if there was some particular reason parents feed their children these things, but I didn’t uncover a satisfactory answer.

I did learn that Cheerios’ health claims about lowering bad cholesterol might cause it to be labeled as a drug and thus regulated by the FDA. Froot Loops, I found out, were invented in 1959 and originally called Fruit Loops until a lawsuit was filed claiming the branding was misleading. Seems the product didn’t actually contain any fruit. The case was settled out of court and the name was changed.

People leave behind lots more than Froot Loops when they check out of a rental property. Some of the most common items include shaving cream, fruit-scented shampoos, flip-flops, eggs, ice cream, and margarita mix. Then there’s the hair….

I am always finding long single hairs plastered on the glass shelves and door bins in the refrigerator.

Hair in the oven I would understand. I’d be tempted to stick my head in if I were trapped in a house full of screaming kids for a week.

Renters also tend to leave beer. Several years ago, I employed an aging mother-daughter cleaning team from up near Milford who’d make a beeline for the beer as soon as they arrived. Said it helped them clean better.

They’d sometimes show up unannounced at the house on Saturday nights en route to Ruddertown, waltz right in, introduce themselves as the maids, and then ask for a couple of cold ones. Interestingly, nobody complained about the gals. People were more upset about the lack of lobster crackers and bibs in the kitchen. Hey, it’s Dewey Beach, not Maine.

As a domestic, I’ve learned that tenants eat a lot of toast. They steal light bulbs. And, they abscond with rolls of toilet paper and boxes of dishwasher detergent. Nobody walks off with historical novels, wine glasses, or French lampshades. Its sundries they want.

I suppose it was inevitable that I’d begin employing certain “maid tricks” like flipping rugs rather than washing them and angling the wooden blinds so the sun doesn’t highlight dust. Wiping down furniture surfaces with Liquid Gold leaves an almond smell that distracts from cobwebs underneath. A little Oust sprayed in the bathroom gives the impression you’ve been down on your knees scrubbing when you’ve really just run a Clorox wet wipe across everything.

While cleaning last Saturday, I caught a glance of myself in the mirror. There I was, barefoot with a beer in one hand and an ostrich feather duster in the other. It was eleven o’clock in the morning.

You know what? The old gals were right: a little beer does help you clean better.