Thursday, March 24, 2011

Perfectly Useless

It's a Smashing Pumpkins kind of week. The final chorus from 'Perfect' earworms through my head, accompanied by lyrics from 'Ava Adore':

"...and I'll pull your crooked teeth / you'll be perfect just like me..."

My kitchen table place mats are a bit shrunken since they first arrived as a wedding present 16 years ago, wrapped in an over-sized Crate & Barrel box. They are now so frequently spattered with ketchup, chocolate, barbeque and balsamic vinaigrette by the other members of the household (I confess the occasional coffee slosh) that I gave up on my drip-dry dreams in favor of weekly washings. The mats often arrive back on the table with dryer creases that won't lie quite flat and I'm positive that they were once a much warmer shade than taupe. Something more from the African savannah.

They are, however, precisely aligned with the edge of the table. Parallel, perpendicular and crumb-free for a few hours, they lie emptied of half-filled water glasses, rubber bracelets, dirty napkins and scissors. I draw them up just so to the waiting chairs, evenly spaced from each other like mutually repelling magnets, and flush with the wooden edge so that no casual passer-by can plop, put, forget or otherwise fill the serenity. It's a table-in-waiting, with sunshine illuminating the dust motes that surreptitiously drift back down after a good smacking with a damp towel or my bare hand.

Compulsive behavior is a real plus to the one charged with determining the household's standard. The symptoms of my suspected disorder benefit everyone in the house: those who appreciate a tidy space AND those who can't abide a disturbance in the force. Stasis is the status quo of a good housekeeper. The badge of honor. Touching, straightening and re-creating a space without actually living in it.


Sarah said...

I love "table in waiting."

Jess said...

Just rediscovered you after many months - what a neglectful friend. Like Sarah, I loved the phrase "table in waiting". What a picture you paint. I can relate to feeling disordered yet beneficial in my disorderedness.

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