Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series examining the most disappointing invention since The Clapper that promises to make our lives easier, but instead ends up stealing our lives right out from under us: Spring Cleaning.
Someone please tell The Joker to take his bag of tricks elsewhere. Someone please send a memo to King Kong that he can go and stomp over another city’s skyline.
There’s a new two-name villain in town now. I don’t want to alarm you, but I suspect the villain is somewhere in your house right now, where it’s been burrowing and gaining strength and momentum during the long winter months. And I even hate to say this, but it’s probably already infected your mind too, brainwashing and seducing you with visions of pristine, perfect-looking living rooms and bedrooms from the pages of an IKEA catalogue. As you’re reading this right now, it’s probably even doped you up with the lemon-fresh scents of Pine-sol or tickled your fancy with Potpourri.
So what’s the name of this Master of Evil?
It’s a trickster, that one. I’m sure of it. I’m sure it chose that name – the sort of name that lightly rolls off your tongue and into the air like blowing daffodils into the sun on a misty spring morning (oh, no….Spring Cleaning is starting to weaken my resistance already…fight it, Melissa. Fight it.
Is this really how you want to live? I know you, and I know you want something better, something more. And because I know you, I also know that you have the strength to do just that: fight.
MORE JUICE AFTER THE JUMP…
This villain sure works with some slick mojo. After all, it promises what we all secretly – and sometimes not so secretly – pray for: A clean house, as clean as the houses straight out of the pages of Better Homes & Gardens (maybe it even has an accomplice that works to seduce the better gardens part of you). Oh, it’s good. It knows your weakness and tries to exploit it.
I’m sure some of you have already succumbed to the spell. Maybe you’re already in the depths of the basement packing up old boxes. Maybe you’re arguing with your significant other on how the time has finally come to throw out that first vacuum you bought together as a couple in 1975.
If you’ve already suffered (or are currently in the midst of suffering), I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.
See, this is exactly what Spring Cleaning wants. It wants cleanliness at all costs, even at the expense of our own lives – and relationships – and that, my friends, is why I wonder: In sprucing up for spring, is it really that healthy to be so obsessed with eliminating every piece of dust and window smudge in the world?
I did a bit of research and discovered that Spring Cleaning must have minions all over the place. One such group: The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). A professional organizer? Hmm, it seems I’ve already met the archetypal “professional organizer”: my mother. Knowing one is overwhelming to me, so I couldn’t imagine immersing myself in the actual organization, a group that is 4,200 professional organizers strong. That’s like an entire football field of bald-headed Mr. Cleans. I just shudder with terror at the thought.
Still, maybe I should at least try to give this group a chance – you know, at least see what they’re all about. Their Web site proclaims “Bring order, calm and control.” They mean it too; their Web site alone is organized to a “T,” right down to the calming shades of green, white and brown. These people aren’t messing (no pun intended) around.
And just like those actors who pretend to be doctors on a soap opera, they use scare tactics to warn you of the fate that could befall you and your loved ones. Translation: Take these steps to save yourself. Now.
“Organized people save time and money, and reduce their stress and frustration levels,” they proudly boast.
The real pull? I too could become a Professional Organizer; the group even offers programs and guidance in the fine art of organizing. This group obviously hasn’t met my dear mother.
I can only imagine the wild fun this group must have. They probably meet in isolation, sterile chambers and instead of suits, opt for anti-contamination suits; you know, just to be perfectly safe and all. They most likely spend their days devising strategies to save the world – no, wait, the galaxy – from the Clutter Apocalypse.
Really, though, I don’t think the world is in that dire of straits yet. And if we really are, as NAPO would have you believe, then maybe seeing a bunch of Mr. Cleans marching down the street, mops and Swiffers hoisted manly over their shoulders, wouldn’t be such a bad thing. At least I’d be able to enjoy two great things: a cute guy and the comforting smell of Lemon Pine-sol.