Friday, October 23, 2009

Cleaning for Company

I used to have awful "entertainment fear." Preparing my house for guests was a bigger deal for me than buying the house in the first place. But now I'm over it, having devised a devil-may-care system that anyone can use.

Begin by only buying intricate, multicolored carpet. Any dirt will then be mistaken for part of the complex patterns. Perfect – because everybody knows that vacuum cleaners, while designed to remove unwanted particles, actually deposit more than they remove. Vacuums do this to ensure their own job security.

As for windows, if you truly like them free of splattered insects, simply scrape them off halfheartedly, realizing that smudges will be left behind. History says fruit flies made ancient scientists believe in "spontaneous generation," but it was really smudges. Smudges regenerate out of nothing in seconds after being removed from any glass surface. It's actually more difficult to permanently remove smudges than it is to get out of a Verizon voice menu.

My advice for the powder room: Don't clean it. Just fill the toilet to the brim with toilet paper, declare "Plumbing emergency!" and then direct guests to the nearest gas station bathroom. Point out that since gas costs so much, we should all get our money's worth by using gas station soap, water, and paper towels whenever possible.

Straightening? Please. Straightening your house just makes people stay too long, because they can find places to sit. Ditto for making the house smell nice by lighting candles, baking cookies, bathing pets, or removing garbage. An inviting environment just increases the chances that people will say yes the next time you invite them over. The goal is to get to the point where no one would ever risk their health by stepping foot in your house. Bam, you're freed from maintaining your home and can bask in task-free squalor.

Obviously you shouldn't provide food and drink either. Why did someone decide, anyway, that in addition to the luxury of indoor plumbing, an evening at a friend's house should include consumables? If you absolutely must provide some, just promise me you won't go to the trouble of buying new stuff. You can throw a perfectly good party with beets and flat seltzer. If guests complain, ask them why they came – was it for the cuisine or the camaraderie? The munchies or the memories? The franks or the friendship? Keep making alliterative comparisons so they don't have a chance to answer.

It's a system that worked for me. After my friends saw my low standards, they insisted on being the ones to host our gatherings. They know that whatever shape their house is in, it can't be as bad as mine. They also know they can always count on me to bring beets.