Thursday, July 25, 2013

No. 315 – Ball & Chain

Performer: Big Brother & Holding Company
Songwriter: Big Mama Thornton
Original Release: Cheap Thrills
Year: 1968
Definitive Version: The Monterey International Pop Festival, 1992.

As I write this, I’m in the middle of cleaning the apartment. I suppose I’m not unique in that I’d do just about anything before cleaning. Typically I have to have enough motivation, like guests coming over. Fortunately, Laurie is the same way, so she never nags me to do my half of the cleaning or anything like that.

I suppose I should preface this by saying, we don’t live like pigs. We don’t live like the previous tenants, who had grase up the side of the kitchen wall to the ceiling and a shower liner black with mold. It’s just Laurie and I put off cleaning until it becomes a big pain-in-the-neck chore.

Yes, I know if I spent a little time cleaning each week, it would go faster and the place always would look decent. After I get started, I go at it hard, as I mentioned; it’s the getting started that’s my problem.

Guests are a solid motivator. Outside of guests, however, it’s almost as though I have to be disgusted—with myself for not cleaning the place—before I do anything. I’ve always been this way, even when I was a kid. My disgust threshold lowered as I got older. I used to never clean as a kid and only less so as a young adult. This led to an embarassing situation after I moved to Flint.

For Christmas one year—I can’t remember what year, but it probably was 1990—Dad got me a handheld vac. That was a good gift, and when I opened it, I said, “Now I finally can clean my car regularly.” Whereupon Dad said, “And you finally can clean your apartment.”

That stung me, because I didn’t consider that I had a messy apartment. I mean, I didn’t have dishes stacked up in the sink or food strewn about or junk thrown on the floor. But when Dad and Laura stopped to visit me once on their way to Torch Lake, apparently my apartment made such a negative impression that they felt they had to do something about it.

The problem was obvious, in retrospect—it was incredibly dusty. Even before the construction began behind my apartment building that turned the swamp out back into a housing complex, dust just clung to everything. There are few chores I would rather do less than the dusting. Simply, I hate to dust. It’s tedious, even though, unlike, say, cleaning the bathtub—my chore as I write this—you almost always see instant results.

OK, message received. From then on, I made it a point to always make sure my place was cleaned, including dusting, before I had any guests over.

Sometimes, as I mentioned, after I get started cleaning, sometimes I don’t find the off switch. I remember one epic cleaning after this song came out during the 1993 NCAA basketball championship game—the one where Chris Webber called the phantom timeout much to my schadenfreudistic glee. I don’t recall that I was expecting guests; I must have just reached a certain disgust level.

With the game on TV—as well as CDs before and after—I went to town and cleaned the whole place top to bottom, and I mean as in spotless. I even moved the little dining table and chair I had in the kitchen out and scrubbed the floor by hand. (It was small enough to do this.) I was pretty proud of myself when I was finished. I think even Dad would’ve approved.

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