Small Talk

Small Talk: Frenzy to get the house guest-ready

Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod! Guests are arriving in two days! And not family, for whom I could leave things just clean enough. No, these are complete strangers from another country. That means I have no idea what their definition is of “clean” or what sort of home would be considered presentable.

None of that really matters, though, because I am actually driven by the ghost of my mother. Guests were royalty and your home needed to be in flawless shape for their arrival. I cannot fight my DNA.

With my dear but messy husband home all the time now, the challenge to bring the house up to snuff has increased tenfold. Much of what needs to be done, couldn’t be done until zero hour, or it would be undone within half an hour. So today, it’s on! I have been washing towels, sheets, blankets and rugs. I will be making beds, scouring bathrooms and mopping floors with a vengeance.

Then I must turn my attention to the back patio. You see, the guest room slider opens onto it and a hot tub, and these folks love to be outdoors. However, that area is knee deep in the winter’s rain flotsam and jetsam, weeds, dirty patio furniture and spider webs. I am throwing back an extra-large Mick Jagger triple espresso in preparation to turn the entire backyard into a lovely spring retreat.

I have already spent a week bailing rainwater out of the hot tub, then cleaning it, then filling it, then chlorinating it, only to discover the old filter was not working. This required ordering the wrong size replacement, returning it and finding the right size, to be delivered ultra-super express.

I also spent a few hours sneakily spraying bug-killer around the guest room doors, the hot tub and adjacent patio areas, so that our visitors do not have to bunk with the usual healthy array of arachnids. Don’t tell my husband. He loves bugs.

The balance of the day was spent racing from one panic overload to another. As I replaced towels, I spotted filthy light switches and door handles. As I moved the bed, I found steroid-fed dust bunnies. Then I made the mistake of looking down to find the sliding glass door tracks were beyond filthy. Vacuuming those, I noticed cobwebs in every corner. All this cleaning led to three more loads of dirty-rag laundry. Suddenly, everywhere I turn, another sticky spot.

You’ll understand if this week’s column ends abruptly. I am too caffeinated to focus and still have a long list of must-do-right-nows. So bye. Wish me luck and stamina.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who wants to be the perfect hostess, but whose home is usually clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy. Contact her at