Sunday, October 18, 2009

Crumbless Floors

There are people who only permit eating and drinking in their home at the kitchen table. From birth on, their children only eat in one room. Crumbs can only be found under the kitchen table, and, on rare occasions, the dining room table. Then there are those like my family. We treat any table as an extension of the kitchen table and any room as an extension of the kitchen. The former group never has to replace sofas, carpet, or have grout cleaned. When their children were in the throw food on the floor stage, they had plastic under the highchair. Their house is always spic and span. They climb into a crumb free bed each night. After 20 years, their couches are out of style, but in brand new condition.

Unlike them, my electric broom is in constant use in every room. If not, the ants will invade my home and invite all their fellow crawlers for a feast. My couches never last long enough to go out of style. It’s cheaper to buy new ones than have them recovered because of all the stains. I gave up on leather ones when I stabbed one with a knitting needle and couldn’t get it repaired. Clear plastic slipcovers worked for my Mom, but my generation ridiculed them so much we wouldn’t dare use them.

The two philosophies conflict when they live in a development like mine with common elements – a.k.a. – the recreation facilities. The neat freaks won out when the rules were written, and I’m told some of the nibblers have a tough time being good. Last week, I sat down, paper coffee cup in hand, at the table where I was to play Mah Jongg. “Get a cover fast,” a new friend said and quickly explained the rule against eating and drinking from uncovered cups in the card room. “The tattletale’s here and she’ll head to the office if she sees you with that cup.”

Office? Was I back in school? I decided against pursuing my line of thinking out loud. These women hardly knew me, and I didn’t want to get a negative reputation. Also, although not my style, the rule made sense. We were playing on carpeted floors – a floor covering necessary to keep the noise level down. Coffee spills are deadly and with so many people playing cards, Mah Jongg or whatever in one-room, accidents were likely to happen. Obviously, if each player made a tiny spill, the carpet would need to be replaced frequently. Food stains – especially squished chocolates, do permanent damage. Even though I rarely spill coffee, I didn’t want to take a chance. I went into the cafe and took a cover for the cup I had purchased minutes before. When I returned, I glanced around the room filled with seniors who were playing games and wondered which one was the tattletale and exactly to whom she would squeal.

By late afternoon, I still didn’t discover who she was and no longer cared because I made a more important discovery. About 50 people played cards or Mah Jongg in a card room for over five hours. When they left, the floor was spotless. The only thing the maintenance crew needed to do was slide the chairs neatly under the table. Since each group brings their own tabletop cover, even the tables were spotless.

“How was your game?” Hubby asked when I came home. He was sitting on our brand-new beige couch munching on pretzels. A cup of chocolate diet soda was resting on the new glass coffee table. I walked over to him, and instead of giving him a peck on his forehead, I took the pretzels and soda and moved them into the kitchen, setting them on the table.” We need to talk about new rules for this house,” I said.

Do you think two leopards can change spots after 47 years?

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