Note what lies in front of the caveman in what I must assume is a historically accurate The New Yorker cartoon (December 20/27 issue). A carpet. He doesn’t look happy. He shouldn’t be. His cavewoman gatherer has just introduced a hitherto unknown horror into his caveman life. Carpet cleaning.
Yesterday I endured my semi-annual carpet cleaning hell. Laurel knows that I hate these incursions into our cave. It doesn’t matter. She calls up the carpet cleaner and schedules them anyway. I had been dreading the coming of 9:00 am on Friday all week. The reality was even worse than I had expected.
And I thought I knew what to expect.
I’d answer the doorbell and let a guy in who would proceed to make my life miserable for three hours. He’d open doors and windows throughout the house on a 50 degree day. He’d spray awful-smelling stuff on the carpet and then get it all wet. He’d haul in noisy equipment. He’d put a fan at the entrance to my office that would blow like a hurricane while I was trying to do important stuff on my computer, like look for revealing photos of Tom Cruise’s new girlfriend. He’d move around whatever furniture we had left in place. And then, after creating all this chaos, he’d give us a bill for $500.
I was right about almost everything. Except, actually it was more like six hours. And the bill was more like $600.
Plus, the hose on his truck that we had hooked up to an outside softened-water faucet leaked like crazy. I spent fifteen minutes wrapping his hose with every form of leak-stopping tape that I could find: duct tape, electrical tape, emergency pipe wrap tape, asphalt roof repair tape. I had that hose connection bulging like a boa constrictor that had just eaten a rabbit.
It still leaked like a sieve. For the whole six hours. Wasting our well water, stressing our water softener, driving me even crazier than I already was.
Laurel went for a long walk with Serena during most of the nightmare. She came back about noon when she expected the carpet cleaner would be done. He had just warmed up. I have no idea how it is possible to spend six hours cleaning 1300 square feet of carpet. The guy spent a lot of time on his cell phone, calling his boss to tell him that he was behind schedule.
I wanted to scream from my wind tunnel-like office, “Just clean our _____ing carpet instead of explaining why you are late cleaning our carpet. That’s why you’re late, you _____ing idiot! You’re on your damn cell phone instead of cleaning our carpet!”
But somehow that didn’t seem like what a Taoism convert who supposedly flows with life would say. Except I wanted to say it. Go figure.
Today, to me the carpet looks exactly like it did on Thursday. However, I can clearly see that our checking account balance is $600 less. Well, I’ve read that women’s sense organs are more sensitive than men’s. Probably Laurel can see dirt that is invisible to me. She assures me that the carpet needed to be cleaned. I trust her.
Laurel asked how often our carpets had been cleaned during my first marriage. I had no idea. I’ve probably blanked the memories out in some sort of protective post-traumatic stress reaction. Yesterday’s memory too will fade, I hope. But I can’t forget that August is coming.
Another carpet cleaning horror awaits. I must be strong. Somewhere, there is a support group for men who work at home and are married to women who have the carpet cleaned twice a year. I will find it. With the help of my caveman brothers, I shall endure.