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July 21, 2011 / thomcaraway

An excerpt from Katie Savage’s essay, “Out Damned Spot! or, The Day I Discovered My Oven Knobs Came Off”

I am—and I will tell you right now that this is a terrible way to be and I’m sorry and I will promise to try not to do it if I ever come to your house—the sort of guest who frequently notices the state of things like oven knobs. While I will not snoop through your medicine cabinet when I am in the bathroom, I might run my finger along the toilet-paper shelf to check for dust or peek behind the shower curtain to see if there are hard-water stains gunked up on the faucet. If there is dust or gunk, I will feel a faint glow of happiness – not because I’ve caught you in the act of Egregious Gunk Having, but because, in some small way, I will feel better about my own gunk, which often exists at nearly toxic levels – especially in the upstairs shower, which is used only by my husband, Scott, and me. If there is no dust or gunk – and especially if the hostess was not expecting my visit or if she’s said something along the lines of “Please excuse the mess” – I will think short, hateful thoughts about her and convince myself that she has a secret maid who wears camouflaged clothing and maybe a mask and tiptoes into the house in the dead of night to tidy up a bit, unbeknownst to drop-in houseguests like me.

Only one of my friends has admitted to having a maid, and only one of my friends has ever been employed as a maid, so while I understand that they do exist, I imagine them being very rare – like giant panda bears. Maids are reserved for people who have saved “money for retirement” and an “emergency fund of at least six months’ salary” – two responsible ideas that seem so ridiculously out of reach that I’ve stopped chastising myself for turning off the television whenever a financial expert starts discussing them. To me, having a maid is like having a tennis court on your roof garden. I’ve never considered hiring someone to take care of the mounds of dog hair collecting under the couch. Instead, I consider the social consequences of waxing my dog.

The full text appears in issue 6.2 of Rock & Sling

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