National Commentary

Johnny’s World: Terrified


It’s 8 p.m. on an idle Monday night. The pruning sheers cut through the stems of the roses, hydrangeas, and assorted annoying nameless blossom flowers of this week’s arrangement with ease. As with the last three daily pruning sessions, this one is a success. Each flower has been arranged, returned to exactly the same place from whence it came. The new water, not too warm, has been filled, not too high, but just enough for the beautifully scented, dying life forms to drink for another day. The flowers, arranged in antique Czech crystal, are flawless.

The dishes from dinner have been scraped, scrubbed, and pre-cleaned and now sit comfortably in the dishwasher waiting for an evening of deep cleaning. Despite the kitchen having been cleaned after dinner service ended at 5:30 p.m., it is not flawless. The all-purpose cleanser and sponge come out of the place beneath the sink where they rest so as not to draw too much attention to themselves. They know their purpose and go right to work, cleaning an already clean surface, busting away the germs and unseen bacteria that live in every crevice and threaten the lives of millions. The kitchen is scrubbed, gleaming and flawless.

It is now 9:30 p.m. on the same idle Monday night. A few tasks of the nightly routine haven’t quite been accomplished yet. The bed has to be turned down, clothes laid out on tissue paper for tomorrow, bag checks to ensured that everything from credit cards to wet wipes are in place and, of course, the showering, preening and come down process.

No, no, no – before all that, the vacuuming has to happen.

Or wait, everything can be accomplished and the vacuum can happen last, so the freedom to walk on the carpet is still available between rooms. Everyone knows that after you vacuum the carpet you shouldn’t obscure the fresh lines with unsightly footprints.

Like clockwork, the vacuum comes out and does her best lines this week. She rounds the bends, finds her way under the overstuffed and fluffed couch the same way she does every night. The dwelling is now, like everything must be, flawless.

The showering portion of the evening, possibly the best part, happens at 11 p.m., the same as last night and tomorrow. First, brush the teeth and apply white strips. Then shampoo, condition, do a full-body scrub with a loofa, wash the face, and exfoliate. Once out of the shower, swig some mouth wash and spit. Bedtime is so close yet so far away, what with the three different lotioning sessions for body and face, the lip exfoliation, the nail filing, and tooth flossing. The magnifying mirror comes in handy for a high-def view of the pores and to scour the epidermis for anything that isn’t perfect, like a hawk looking for the one lame bunny. The goal is flawless.

The last three hours have gone by the same way they do every single night. The fight for daily flawlessness is a hard battle, but if you’re organized and believe in yourself, anything is possible.

At 11:30 p.m. on that idle Monday night, I look from the magnifying mirror to the full-sized mirror and notice a stealthy, glazed-over eyeball staring back at me. It’s similar to the ones on Great White Sharks we see every summer on Discovery.

I have spent three hours of my day on tasks that could be better left for another time, their time better spent with my husband and puppy. When I realize the simple fact that I am a tyrant with possibly a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I rush out of the bathroom (once the lotions have soaked in) to find my husband and my puppy cowering in the corner not wanting to walk on the carpet. I have alienated them once again when they are the ones needing my affection, my pruning skills, my whit, and my determination.

They look at me with wide eyes and with a sprinkle of jealousy toward my vacuum. Order and cleanliness are important to me, but at what cost? When I was single and lonely my traditions were a good distraction, but now they’re selfish and damaging.

Hello. My name is Johnny, and I have a problem.