This former Chicago radio personality (WLUP, WFYR, WIND) has semi-retired from the microphone (except for commercial voice-over work), to concentrate on her other love: creative writing. Torres is currently working on a collection of short stories, poetry and essays. You may read an excerpt by clicking Torres .Copyright 1997, Chris Torres
by Christ Torres
The blot, the spot, the stain that threatens to remain. I don’t know when it is exactly that I became obsessed with cleanliness: mine and that of my immediate universe. I believe however, that it definately dates back to well before my teens. We used to tease Mom that she looked like a tiny, unstoppable VW “Bug.”
Dressed in blue jeans and a bright orange cotton blouse, she was a nothing short of a brilliant streak of energy. Vrooom-vroom-vrooming her way through dust balls and as always accompanied by her faithful side-kick, a bright pink feather duster.
She was either too busy pushing her hideously loud vacuum cleaner around our 3 bedroom, ranch-style home in San Gabriel, California. . . or chose to pretend NOT to hear her daughters, as we laughed at her obsession with dust and dirt.
I remember turning a bright red that stained my vulnerable teen angst the day I brought home a new boyfriend. Mom had just finished mopping her kitchen floor and barely looked up as I introduced Micheal for she was too busy following him on hands and knees as the poor, beleaguered guy tried to act normal and proceed into the living room without tripping over her.
Stunned and wide-eyed he sputtered “Hi, (to the top of mom’s head), ma’am, pleased to meet you”. . . “Sure, nice to meet you too, Micheal,” she distractedly respond ed, huffing and puffing as she followed him around, wiping away any speck of dust his shoes may have left on her radiant work of art.
I ended up marrying Michael and I never heard the end of it, not just because that moment had been so precious, but because his pert, new wife proved to be just as tragically inclined. “You don’t believe in cleanliness” my handsome husband would wail, ”you believe in sterility. ” I would pout. . .between wipes, of course. And while I’d vehemently insist that the apple HAD fallen sufficiently far from the tree, in my heart I knew there was a good possibility that I was similarly and sadly cursed, and might have to live out my days in a tidy domaine with only bright yellow rubber gloves for company.
And so it is. I cannot cook without constantly cleaning up after myself: stir the pot, wipe the counter. . . cut the onions, wipe the board. Slice the sirloin, and Heavens, please, pounce on those renegade germs: a splat here, a drip there. . .I must find the little bastards. When I do, my soapy sponge smothers their vile, smug lives. For we cannot bear the thought of cross contamination. . . after all, if even one miniscule germ escapes my vigilance, it might invade the vulnerable terrain of my body! Jeeeeesus, perish the thought. Why, imagine the fury that might be unleashed on my internal organs then. Assuredly, I would be forced to puke or poop, or worse, both. . .for hours or days maybe, imagine the mess THEN!
If you come over for dinner, the meal will be mouth-watering. The vegetables will be crisp, the meat tender, the fish steamed just so. . .but more importantly, my house will gleam! The chardonnay will be alternately woodsy and fruity and the crystal gob- lets will wait seductively on the table, all naked and shiny, longing for your hands to surround their pristine beauty. . .and when you do, they will squeak orgasmically.
When the last of my guests has vanished like cowards into the night having succeeded in gorging, without offering to help an embattled hostess clean up, my quiet unrelenting assault begins all over again. My job may be endless but my weaponry limitless, for in the waning days of the 20th century, we have a laundry list of choice, man-made chemical cocktails from which to choose IF we are to zap into oblivion the poor unsuspecting household germ. In reality though, perhaps I am as old-fasioned as Ma, because as far as I’m concerned. . .all I need is my Ajax, my Windex and of course, Mr.Clean.
A holy trinity not unlike that glorified by Mother Church. . .after all, she has long dictated that cleanliness is next to Godliness. And so, that has been my lifelong quest. . . wipe hard, harder still. . . polish till it pulsates if need be. . .steam away ALL that which threatens to separate me from the Divine.
I look in the mirror after a morning of especially rapturous cleansing and fully expect to see the face of God. I close my eyes. My nose feels like it wants to explode, . . . the calamitous result of daily exposing my delicate mucous membranes to not-so benign scouring powders and chemicals. . . but I, dauntless St. Joan of Hygiene, am steeled in my resolve.
I will not be detered. I will wait patiently for my redeemer. HE WILL COME! HE MUST rescue me from this tedious, toiling germ-infested existence. And when He finally does come for me. . .His embrace will levitate me onto another plane. We will cross over. He will lead me by the hand through the tunnel of light and I will be forever freed from this existential quagmire. On a cosmic level, I will be the Spic to His Span, and He, Supreme Being that He is. . .will graciously pretend not to notice my dish pan hands.