Monday, April 21, 2008

Brainwashed and Right on Time

For as long as I can remember, I've tried very hard to be punctual. Being late, or even the possibility of being late, gives me anxiety. I am often early in order to avoid being late. I'm not sure when it began; perhaps my mother would say that this concern with punctuality did not begin when I was a child. Whenever it began, I hate being late. I try not to get mad when other people are late, but mostly I steam. I fume. And then when they show up, I say, "Oh, that's OK." And then they do it again the next time, and I fume some more.

I don't generally consider myself an uptight person. When Mrs. Rodius and I met, I was a lazy slob, and she was a tightly-wound neat freak. She and her sisters had and have the highest standards of cleanliness, inherited directly from their mother, of any people I've ever met. I wouldn't go so far as to call them obsessive-compulsive germophobes, but hey. You draw your own conclusions. Over the years, I've increased my standards, and she's lowered hers. Otherwise, we might have killed each other. Or divorced. I know that she pines for a home as clean as her sister's, but neither of us really want to commit to that level of time and attention, and we've reached a sort of happy medium. We don't clean the bathrooms as often or vacuum as often as we used to back when Mrs. Rodius was crazy. We rarely dust. There are piles of opened mail, baby equipment, and other various daily detritus piled on the kitchen table and counters. But now, I find myself doing things, and my mother would certainly confirm this, that I would NEVER have done as a child: this morning, I swept up bread crumbs to maintain the cleanliness of the kitchen floor that I swept and mopped on Friday. Am I becoming one of them?

That's what I wonder: As I age, am I becoming an uptight prick with standards way out of whack? Is it just an Austin hippie thing? There is virtually no one that I know who pretends to care even on just a theoretical level that punctuality is mildly important. Am I crazy? I found myself giving a lecture on punctuality the other day, explaining that I think that being late is disrespectful and communicates that you don't care very much about the person or people that you agreed to meet at a specific time. I got the feeling my lecture was less than convincing.

And I've been in other people's homes. I've been to the homes of friends who were expecting me. When I buy things off of Craigslist and am invited into the homes of people who knew I was coming, more than occasionally the word "squalor" comes to mind when I see the conditions in which they conduct their daily lives.

Am I crazy? Have I been brainwashed by my crazy in-laws to believe that it really is easier to maintain a clean home than it is to clean a dirty one? Am I the only one out there who regularly shows up fifteen minutes early in case I run into traffic or other easily predictable delays? Let's get together for lunch and discuss it. Say, 12:00? I'll be there at quarter 'til. I'll be fuming until you get there around 12:30 or so. It's a date!

5 comments:

POPS said...

The late business probably comes from your father. I've been that way all thru my adult life. During my military days being late brought bad consequences. Or maybe it comes thru me from your deaf mute grandparents. Being late brought unwanted attention and pity.

Anonymous said...

Oh, poor boy, you got a double dose of punctuality craziness! My step-father B.Q. always had us up and out early, causing your grandmother social embarrassment. The other oddity you may have inherited from this side of the family (well, me): the absolute requirement that everyone (child OR adult) must visit the bathroom before leaving the house. I just went or I don't have to go carries no weight. I am in no way responsible for any of that neatness/cleanliness thing going on with you, though. I do think you came from something well above squalor though!
Love,
Mom

Anonymous said...

Oh, poor boy, you got a double dose of punctuality craziness! My step-father B.Q. always had us up and out early, causing your grandmother social embarrassment. The other oddity you may have inherited from this side of the family (well, me): the absolute requirement that everyone (child OR adult) must visit the bathroom before leaving the house. I just went or I don't have to go carries no weight. I am in no way responsible for any of that neatness/cleanliness thing going on with you, though. I do think you came from something well above squalor though!
Love,
Mom

Minivan Mom said...

hehe

Take your punctuality and Mrs. Rodius' cleanliness and put them together and what do you have?

OCD uptight anally punctual Minivan Mom!

Actually, I've become slightly less punctual just in the last year or two - which means I'm usually either on time or even (gasp!) 5 minutes late. This is after 30+ years of being 10-15 minutes early for EVERYTHING. But somehow the 3 kids, dog, job, and frenetic schedule have worn me down so that I'm usually pretty on time...but don't stress about it. Usually.

As for the cleanliness, the funny thing is that I feel that my house is CONSTANTLY dirty and will go on regular rants (the Saint can attest to this) where we must clean everything, including the backs of the closets and tops of the washer and dryer, RIGHT NOW...but then I go to other people's houses and realize that my house is immaculate in comparison.

Lisa said...

I feel like we are late to everything we go to. Not because I want to be late, I don't. BUt there just seems to be a life conspiracy against me getting anywhere on time (and I'm talking about when I am with the kids). If I am by myself, then yes, I am typically "on time".

As for cleanliness, ummmmmmm. How to answer this? My husband is a neat freak and I am not. I am by no means messy and most of my friends would say that my house appears cleaned, but in reality, I just try to do a good job at keeping things picked up and put away. As for actual cleaning, yeah, I certainly could do better. But do oyu know how dirty your house gets when you stay at home with two children? Oh my goodness. I get TIRED of cleaning up and picking up. Speaking of which, I really need to clean our bathroom, like RIGHT NOW.

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