Posted on



You know I'm bored when I start cleaning things

Of all the unexpected victims of COVID- 19, the ones I think were most surprised were the lanky spiders living behind my kitchen stove. I mean, heck, they never even saw it coming.

Neither did I, really, envision such a lull in my social life that I would take the time to scour out nooks and crannies of my house that I had not heretofore seen in the seven years I've lived there. Those shelves on the end of my cupboards, next to the dishwasher, like, who knew? There were dead bugs back there for which I'd need carbon dating to age.

This is not to say that I don't deep-clean my abode very often, except, OK, well, it is. I complete occasional perfunctory sweeps of most noticeable places in case company ever comes -- but never more than once for some reason -- and I'd say the general hygiene of my house ranks a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. Oh, 1 to 100? Yeah, a 5 is still probably about right.

But here I was on Saturday, with much of nothing to do as society wildly panics over a viral bug that, chances are, won't even exterminate all human life on the planet. Normally I'd be spending time with friends or lurking in the used cookware aisle at Goodwill to meet single women -- yeah, I know, I've been told that's creepy -- but on this day 'social distancing' expectations meant the only living creature that was close enough to smell my sausage breath was my cat. I mean, he's cool, I can talk with him for an hour or two, but after that, he just repeats himself. Yeah, I know, I get it, squatting in a litter box in a cold basement is undignified. What am I supposed to do about it?

Thinking of constructive ways to spend my time, I recalled a few nights earlier when I had dropped a melted-cheese swaddled stirring spoon between the odd space between my stove and cupboard. Some years ago, long before I told the realtor 'Hey, no rats -- I'll take it!', someone had inserted a 40-inch stove into a 46inch space, creating this gap where everything from spaghetti sauce to molten marshmallows to butterscotch pudding lands -- sometimes while making the same dish. Anyway, the other night when that spoon fell in, the cobwebs kinda suspended it there in either one really awesome deviance of gravity or a signal that maybe I should clean that out some year.

So, Saturday it was. Armed with a bleachinfused de-greaser spray bottle and a red-whiteand- blue striped old washcloth, I slid the stove from its spot, for what I believe -- I can't be sure on this, there are no accurate written records -- was just the second time since I moved in back in July 2013. What? I was busy. I have a job. And hobbies. And it's icky back there.

As it turns out, 'icky' is a word that describes something that's filthy, disgusting, sickening, rotten, nasty and probably criminal if this was a restaurant, but doesn't even come close to covering what I saw back there. I mean, I expected congealed spattered grease, your occasional dried macaroni noodle, and maybe even that pork chop from 2017 that I suspected the cat made off with, but enough mouse turds to fill a tablespoon measuring utensil (just an estimate, I didn't really need to verify quantities)? I knew I had a rodent or two now and then, but a herd? Good grief.

After unplugging the appliance and moving the stove to mid-kitchen, I commenced on hands-and-knees to excavating in about 20 minutes what had taken five years to fester into what was possibly one large, living mass of grit and grime. And there were spiders back there -- yeah, live ones -- with bodies about the size of Kix cereal pieces and legs the length of toothpicks. They were quick, but not too fond of bleach-infused de-greaser spray, and I had dispatched them to spidy-heaven before they could escape to a new kitchen corner. I wept not for their souls.

Before long, the vinyl surface under the stove was shiny again, so I shoved the stove back in place and not to be moved again until, oh, I'd guess, maybe 2024, give or take. In a grime-removing groove, I headed next cross-kitchen for the dishwasher, and another revelation of just what may lurk under the shadow of a modern electric convenience. I twas not disappointed.

Actually, it wasn't so bad under there, except for the one unidentifiable splotch of some former crimson-colored substance that went over the back some time ago. My guess was meat juice of some strain, given the fuzzy texture of the stain, but my spray-bottle and rag were up to the task. A few more mouse droppings swept away, the dust bunnies deleted, I rolled the machine back and called it good enough.

I supposed it's a guy thing, but super-cleanliness has never been a high priority for me. I'm not a slob, I don't think, but a bedroom with socks hanging from the ceiling fan and unfolded shirts stacked up on a trunk, who cares? I mean, sure, at any given moment there are three empty soda cans, a half-eaten bag of Doritos, and a plate with an unfinished piece of meat loaf on it in my living room, but that's what I consider homey. My bathroom? Well, that might be a different story. The cure for COVID-19 could be growing on the underside of my toilet bowl lid for all I know.

If this pandemic persists, I just might get to some more of those cleaning concerns. I have a list -- although I think it's buried somewhere in the 18-inch pile of debris on my desk -- but I know offhand that the basement could use some attention, the spare bedroom is messier than a trailer park after an F-5 outbreak, and my closets have more useless crap stuffed in 'em than a public dumpster on Community Clean-Up Day. Let's just say the coronavirus could not peak until summer and I'd still have plenty to keep me occupied.

Then again, I've long insisted that living in an environment that's too sanitized is not healthy, that one needs to maintain some sort of immunity to germs by introducing a modest amount into one's system. Get too clean and your body won't know how to reach when some virulent bacteria invades.

I'm not worried yet. I still haven't cleaned under my fridge. I mean, I'm bored, but I ain't stupid.