With Mrs. Clean
Roosevelt once observed that Marines have the cleanest bodies
and dirtiest minds in the world.
said that because she got her feelings hurt when the Marines skipped
a reception she planned for them on the West Coast when they arrived
on ships bringing them home from the war in the Pacific.
Chesty Puller explained to Mrs. Roosevelt that the first thing
the Marines wanted to do was get a drink of whiskey, and the second
thing was to find a girl.
dont know how many sailors and soldiers skipped the party.
I just heard the Marine Corps version of the story. But I hope
Mrs. Roosevelt remembered the generals advice the next time
she threw a party for some servicemen.
a good turnout at your party serve lots of booze and invite plenty
of girls. Itll work every time.
that I think about it, youd get lots of politicians, too.
But I digress.
parents taught me that cleanliness was next to Godliness. This
certainly applied to personal hygiene, but there was also talk
of cleaning my room from time to time.
didnt perfect habitual cleanliness until I lived for a few
months in the same house with four big, loud, persistent, and
overbearing Marine Corps Drill Instructors. Those guys had a way
of helping you remember things like changing your socks and polishing
the heels of your shoes.
even the Marine Corps allowed us to get dirty occasionally without
falling to pieces over it. For example, they didnt make
us shine our boots and wash our skivvies while we were under enemy
Marine noncoms instinctively knew when we were reaching our breaking
point, so they cut us a little slack. However, that isnt
the case with my wife. There is no slack in her string.
to her has turned out to be a tad more demanding than the Marine
Corps. Early in my marriage an incident occurred that illustrates
Saturday afternoon, I was looking forward to watching a ballgame
on TV while reading a good book and enjoying a few snacks. As
Ive said before, Im a junk food junkie. Reading and
watching TV are enhanced tremendously by large quantities of junk
selected my book, settled in my easy chair, and clicked on the
TV set. During the pre-game chatter, I put my book down on the
coffee table and went to the kitchen to fix myself a Coke. I was
trying to exercise enough self-control to delay snacking until
the half. I figured Cokes didnt count.
I came back into the living room, my book was missing from the
happened to my book? I asked, genuinely puzzled.
I put it back on the shelf. I thought you were finished with it.
Arent you going to watch TV?
I said, setting my Coke on the table while I went to the bookcase
to retrieve my book. I can watch TV and read at the same
fetched the book and returned to my chair, eager to start both
my book and my ballgame. When I reached for my Coke, I discovered
it was gone.
happened to my Coke? I asked, getting a little frustrated
I poured it out and put the glass in the dishwasher. I thought
you were finished with it.
tucked my book safely under my arm and took it with me to the
kitchen to get myself another drink. I didnt take my hands,
nor my eyes, off either of them the rest of the afternoon.
my wife ever comes to your house, Id advise you to straighten
your pictures and organize your magazine rack, or youll
have to follow Linda around the house while she does it for you.
woman is Mrs. Clean. Ive learned things from her that my
mother, my two older sisters, my old maid aunt-home-economics-teacher,
and the United States Marine Corps never knew about cleanliness
and housekeeping. I dont live in a home. I live in a Home
Demonstration House. Martha Stewart is a slob compared to Linda.
into your house, Martha would say, This lovely home has
a nice lived-in look.
would say, I can fix this.
daughter, who flunked out of Lindas School Of Immaculate
Perfection, and her family recently visited her in-laws in Italy
for about three weeks. I promised to keep the grass cut and fix
a broken closet door while they were gone.
toolbox in my hand, I unlocked Aprils front door. As I pushed
it open, Linda charged past me with a determined look in her eye.
back, she said. I have some serious cleaning to do
never seen a happier woman. She had three weeks in which to have
her way with Aprils house. It was a mothers dream,
L. Gardner is an author, columnist, speaker, and consultant.
He is a former newspaper editor and publisher and has authored
two books. He writes a popular human interest/humor column, "Tantalizing
Trivialities," a mixture of fun, frivolity, nostalgia, inspiration,
humor, love, marriage, tall tales, work, and other absurdities.
He publishes "Harvey Gardner's Marketing Tips," an online
newsletter. He lives in White House, Tennessee. His website is
Harvey L. Gardner