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Posts Tagged ‘cleaning’

Whistle While You Work

May 19, 2014 | by

The_Figurine_by_W._Paxton_-_1921

William Paxton, The Figurine, 1921

“Many people tolerate squalor,” a friend once said to me. “But you’re the only person I know who seems to have a positive preference for it.”

Evidence to the contrary, I don’t, in fact, enjoy filth and chaos. But I do have a high threshold for it. I seem to lack a certain fastidiousness gene, and I’m guilty of what the British call, terrifically, “sluttish housekeeping.” I am not someone who will ever derive pleasure or satisfaction from cleaning—like running, it is a taste I doubt I will ever acquire. There is always a heap of clothing in my bedroom, generally schmutz on my mirrors, and invariably a mysterious profusion of change on the floor, everywhere. These are the sorts of things suitors think are cute and quirky, and that actual boyfriends come to understand are in fact heavy crosses to be borne.

In spite of—or perhaps because of—my own messiness, I enjoy depictions of cleaning to an unusual degree. Specifically, I love any montage in which order is imposed on chaos. Desirable elements include energetic sweeping, fresh coats of paint, clouds of dust, windows being thrown open. Is this because I somehow crave order, or just that Snow White was the second film I ever saw on the big screen? (War Games was the first.) I don’t know, but either way, I love to watch them while lounging in my unmade bed, generally surrounded by crumbs. Read More »

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Phillip’s Dry Cleaners

June 26, 2012 | by

In New York, I did not want to go online and search for a gifted dry cleaner, and so I took the recommendation of a friend. The shop was in Nolita, and the cleaner was skeptical. The stain was unlikely to come out, he explained, and to attempt it, he would need a week. I told him I was leaving in three days, and he shrugged. He apologized.

In Seattle, I went online and found a place called Phillip’s Cleaners. What attracted me was not so much the raves—there were twenty accounts of removals of stains deemed unremovable—but the complaints. One man said that for a year, he had brought Phillip several shirts and two pairs of pants weekly. Then, for no apparent reason, Phillip had said to the man, “I don’t want your business anymore.”

There were several reviews of that sort. And due to a kink in my psychology—one that I believe is shared by many—this indicated to me that I had found in Phillip something very rare: a master.

My mom drove me to his shop. We had trouble finding it; naturally, it was small and not so much nondescript as invisible. She parked out front.

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