I'm The Default Cleaner Of Disgusting Messes, And It's Bullsh*t

by Rita Templeton
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If it involves turds, hairballs, boogers, barf, urine, mold, mud – basically, anything that either stinks and/or has the texture of soup – guess who’s tasked with cleaning it up? (Hint: nobody yells, “Daaaaad! There’s liquefied garbage funk puddled in the bottom of the trash can!”)

On my way to fetch my laptop so I could write this very piece, in the dark hours of pre-dawn, I stepped barefoot in a mushy slick of doggy diarrhea on my dining room floor. Because apparently my Labrador Retriever, whose poops are the size of a dinner plate, ate something that didn’t agree with her. Oh, the irony. My husband walked the same path a half-hour before I did, when he went to work, but miraculously neither his eyes nor nose nor feet detected anything amiss. Hmmph.

I’m the default cleaner of all the most disgusting messes around this piece, and it’s bullshit.

… Or dog shit. Or kid shit. Or whoever else decides to shit in here, because, you know, shit happens. “Why am I the only one who ever has to clean up anything gross?!” I grouse as I scrub and scour and spray.

I suppose I’ve brought this upon myself with my tendencies to want the mess cleaned and sanitized, which apparently is too difficult for anyone else in this house. I don’t want the chunks plucked haphazardly from the nubs of the carpet with one measly and inadequate paper towel. I want the solids disposed of, the liquids blotted, and the whole shebang doused in some sort of heavy-duty, industrial-strength antibacterial cleaner and blotted again, as many times as it takes, until all that remains on my carpet is … carpet. AND NOBODY HAD BETTER BE BLOTTING WITH ONE OF MY GOOD TOWELS, EITHER.

But who am I kidding? I’m the only one blotting in the first place.

I know, I know. They’ll never learn if I don’t let them. It’s just that, well, I’ve become so efficient over the years – and the thought of what happens when my family “cleans up” haunts me. When one of my kids was in preschool, he accidentally took a dump on the bathroom floor on his way to the toilet. Then he tried to clean it up by himself, so I wouldn’t find out. The result was an all-out poopocalypse: smears drying into a spackle-like consistency on the tile, settling into the grout, smudges on the toilet paper holder, streaks on the edge of the toilet (which was clogged, naturally, because if you think kids use a lot of TP when they wipe, you ought to see them when they try to clean up a shitty mess). Not to mention a child who, by this point, was covered in his own feces.

I tried to pretend it was chocolate frosting. But my imagination is just not that awesome.

If I’d been informed of the mishap and in charge of cleanup from the get-go, I’d have had it over with in seconds. Instead, a (waaaay) less experienced person attempted the task and I had to deal with the fallout, which was a bazillion times worse than the original situation. And this is the type of scenario that flashes before my eyes every time there’s a stomach-turning mess.

No, I do not want to clean up a pile of barf laced with Chef Boyardee. But I also do not want a red-tinted, sour-smelling patch to haunt me every time I walk past, reminding me of what abhorrent and revolting ick still lingers deep within the carpet fibers. And I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I’d get if I didn’t just do it myself – i.e., do it right the first time.

So I’m stuck. If I leave the mess to anybody else, the cleanup job sucks. If I go in behind them and finish it properly, I’m still cleaning, and resentful to boot. I guess whenever there’s a crisis, you call in an expert, but that doesn’t mean the expert is happy about dealing with it.

At least I know not to use the good towels.