Performer: The Allman Brothers Band
Songwriter: Gregg Allman
Original Release: Eat a Peach
Definitive Version: none
Laurie and I have divided our cleaning chores—more or less. I do the vacuuming, which is tedious, and the kitchen, which is a big pain. Laurie does the dusting, which I hate more than any other household chore, and the bathroom, except for the tub, which is a thankless task. Because the tub is old, it never gets completely clean, and that drives me nuts.
See, even though I hate to clean, after I get started, I want everything to look spotless when I get done. It’s part of my perfectionist nature.
Because of that, I’ve reached a point in my life where I would rather spend my money to have someone else come in and do the cleaning than spend the time doing it myself. Laurie has put the kibosh on that for now, so we do the cleaning ourselves.
My thinking on this matter is a recent change. Years ago, when I actually had a cleaning person—and when I found this song—I would rather have done the cleaning myself. Let me restate that: I would rather have had Debbie do it herself.
When Debbie and I moved into our house, we had a division of labor, too. I was in charge of the outside, she got the inside—except the kitchen floor. (Why that always has ended up being my job, I’ll never know.) As I mentioned, I threw myself into my work and took great pride in my yard—even though my perfectionism couldn’t allow me to overlook a few flaws on occasion.
Debbie, however, didn’t take to her chores in the same way. Cleaning a house was way more work than cleaning a one-bedroom apartment, and it gave her no satisfaction the same way the yard did for me.
Sometime in 2000 she decided she wanted to hire a cleaning woman to come in. She was tired of either having to do the work herself or the house not looking the way she wanted it to, so she pressed me on the hire. When she said she’d pay for it herself, I acquiesced, although, in reality, there was no way I wasn’t going to contribute financially.
Debbie hired a mother-daughter team who came once a month. For $60, they cleaned the downstairs, vacuuming, dusting, mopping, everything. Debbie still would take care of the master bedroom and second bathroom. The Baseball Room, of course, was strictly my domain, as it should have been.
The cleaning women did a nice job, and nothing got stolen as far as I know. At first, just the mother came, but after a while, she got her daughter more involved until the daughter just took over.
The first time both came over, I was home while Debbie as at work. She called to see how it was going, and I said, it was going OK, but you could tell a big difference in what the mother cleaned and what the daughter cleaned. The daughter was much better. Debbie was expecting just the opposite.
That new arrangement led to an uncomfortable moment later. After Debbie broke up with me but before I left the house in 2001, we had a cleaning scheduled and just the daughter showed up. The daughter was attractive in kind of a white trashy way with hair that didn’t realize that the ’80s were long over—just the way I like it. I remember thinking, nothing is preventing me from asking her out, but it didn’t feel right, and I let the moment pass without regret.
But having an attractive cleaning woman wasn’t the issue. The real issue was that having cleaning women at all made me feel resentful. I still did all of the outdoor chores, but now it seemed that Debbie was getting something of a free ride. Debbie always said I could hire someone to take care of the outside, too, and I had a lawn service for a brief time. When it didn’t produce anything I couldn’t do myself, I got rid of it.
My resentment led me to completely miss the point. The point was Debbie had concluded she no longer wanted to waste time doing something she didn’t want to do, like cleaning the downstairs.
In the years since, I’ve come around to her way of thinking. In retrospect, that I wasn’t completely supportive the entire time was just another measure of how we had become more incompatible. It happens.