Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Dread of Doilies

My therapist is constantly urging me to feel my feelings, but I find that it is much easier to avoid them by channeling them into obsessive-compulsive behaviors. So, when at the start of this week, a mysterious dread crept into my heart, I decided to clean the apartment from top to bottom. I scrubbed the floors. I washed the sofa covers and the shower curtain. I got rid of everything I would never use, including a Candy Whip of uncertain provenance. (It wasn’t edible any more, if it ever had been.) I threw away a pair of boots I’d worn at Burning Man, too dusty ever to wear again.

At first, I felt invigorated by the gradual triumph of order over chaos. But the more I cleaned and organized, the more dirt and disorder I saw. I found one humdrum task after another, mending the torn binding of my favorite cookbook, dusting my computer keyboard. I was about to organize our nonfiction alphabetically by subject, when I discovered a little tome that I bought at a garage sale for fifty cents: Organized Closets & Storage, by Stephanie Culp.

Ms. Culp’s advice on vacuum cleaners: “Get rid of exotic attachments you know you will never use. Vacuuming is a chore, not an art.” Her thoughts on doilies: “Do remember that doilies were made to be used, and if you’re not really using yours, but can’t bear to part with them, they should be moved out of the active storage area and put away with other mementos and heirlooms.”

Ms. Culp seemed to inhabit a very different world with me, one in which people have state-of-the-art vacuum cleaners and get overly attached to doilies. In my world, it is vibrators that have exotic attachments and Burning Man costumes that I find hard to part with. As I stared at the photograph of Ms. Culp on the back cover, with pancake make-up, a weak smile, and a white blouse buttoned to her chin, I wondered from what dark place her lust for order sprang. I realized that I would never be truly organized, and I didn’t want to be. I would rather face the mysterious dread I felt than end up counting doilies.


Anonymous Bodhi Cole said...

Or, if you feel overwhelmed by your unused doily collection, you could give them to me and I would make you a slutty party dress from them.

3:20 PM  

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