Years ago, my sister was asked to clean house for a woman, who hadn’t straightened her kitchen cupboards in years.  She asked my sister to remove everything, throw out any suspicious packaged items, scrub down the shelves and put everything back in an organized fashion.

“You wouldn’t believe it,” my sister told us, her sisters.  “There were dead maggots in the corners.”

We all squealed and writhed and said, “You’re kidding!  Yuk.  Ooooh.”

Since then, my goal has always been not to be the woman with maggots in her kitchen cupboards.

That’s why we move every three years.

I have my own maggot story.  I can tell it without shame, because it wasn’t my doing.  The third year we were married we moved from Commonwealth Avenue in Boston to Shaler Lane in Cambridge.  Actually, Tom was in Germany leading a group of students for The Experiment in International Living.  I moved us.

The apartment was a horror.  I mean like someone had vomited on a wall and not wiped it down.  Stuff like that.  I hired painters.  When they were through, I attacked the stove with soap and ammonia.  I lifted up the top to clean under the burners and you’ll never guess what was under there!  Yes.  Dead maggots.  I turned and walked straight out of the apartment and upstairs to the VanWagenens.

“I can’t live in my apartment.  I’m going to have to move to a motel,” I said.

They asked why and I told them.

Richard said, “I’ll clean it for you.  We had worse than that in the army.”

And he did.  Richard was my hero.

Today, I decided to organize my pantry.  First I went to the library to get a CD of THE BROTHERS KARMAZOV, which is as long as it’s going to take me to do this job.  This was Day One.  My spices are in alphabetical order. (Sarah, we actually did have cinnamon!)  Various nuts are stored in plastic containers with labels in black magic marker.  Paper products are in plastic baskets.  Goodness, I’m so proud of myself.

Tomorrow is day two.  Dostoevsky is excellent company.

Next is the Laundry Room and then the linen closet.  Onward and upward!

I am not an enthusiastic spring cleaner usually, but I have this fantasy that someone will want to rent my house, furnished, for a year or two while we go off to nose around in other places.  If I clean now, I might have the nerve to list it in April on Craig’s List.

There will be no maggots or mice.  It will be sparkling. Seriously, do you have a maggot story?  (Dede found dead mice in our NY apartment when she and Ed came to help us clean ).

My college biology teacher told us on the first day of class that 98% of us had worms in our bodies.  It’s the only thing I remember about biology.

Speaking of worms, the SEARS CATALOGUE used to sell tapeworms, “easy to swallow” for dieters.  In fact, that’s how Maria Callas lost all that weight in the fifties.  Thought you’d want to know.

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