Growing Up Clean

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   June 16, 2014

 

                                    

 

There are some families who are well acquainted with dirt. It is welcomed into the house like the family dog, reclining wherever it pleases and shaking itself into a cloud of castoffs.

My family was different. Dirt, mud, and the other suspects were expected to stand at attention at the door and not advance from there. Our house was clean. The bald head of Mr. Clean was featured prominently in the closet, ready for action.

I wasn’t that into it! You might say that it was mandated to me to be clean. A bath at night, brushing my teeth, even cleaning my plate…those were like Biblical commandments. My underwear and socks always needed to be clean, also, because the threat of being in an accident and being found with dirty underwear was always a dreaded possibility. So every morning I had to make sure I put on a clean pair of Towncraft tighty-whities! My mom worked at Penney’s, so Towncraft was the only option for our family in those days.

My dad was clean…in a different way! Yes, his clothes were always neatly folded, but his cleanliness could be seen in tasks. When he sliced a tomato or an onion it was almost always a clean cut…a perfect slice ready to grace the top of one of his hamburgers. When he cleaned the grill it shone! The inside of the family car was always pristine. The lawnmower was seldom dusted with grass clippings, because Dad would keep it clean.

Mom was like an army sergeant inspecting the barracks. She would come in the living room right when the latest episode of Combat was at its tense climax and tell me that my room looked like a tornado had hit it. I was beg for a few minutes of “clean leave”, but would always be denied. Down the hallway I would run only to discover that the extent of the bedroom tornado damage was a bedspread slightly uneven in its slope down the side, and a closet door halfway open. To Mom “clean” was a state of utopia that could not be allowed even the hint of chaos.

My hair was clean…not from shampoo but rather from the barber. I was buzzed clean until I was in high school. Sometimes a few hairs in front were given amnesty, but the rest of my head resembled Mr. Clean.

When I look back on those days I realize that our family didn’t have much, but our house was always so spic and span we just thought our lack of clutter was because we were neat freaks.

Cleanliness was next to godliness, and our house was so clean we could touch godliness with a white glove!

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3 Comments on “Growing Up Clean”

  1. granonine Says:

    Made me smile. I’m wondering either of your parents was in the military. My dad was in the Navy, and he was a total neatnik. Thanks for this piece. I enjoyed it, and I’m wondering if you’re just as clean now as you were then 🙂

    • wordsfromww Says:

      My dad was a cook in the Navy! The cleanliness has skipped a generation in our family. My oldest daughter is obsessive about order. Of course, it comes in handy with her occupation as a 4th Grade teacher! For me, my car is clean, but my office looks like a tornado has hit it again and again!

      • granonine Says:

        Ah! I thought so 🙂 It skipped a generation for me, too. I try, but can never see to get it all together at one time. My daughter, however, is Mrs. Clean. Ah well.


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