The Mediocre HousekeeperTM :

Dust and Clutter Can Be Your BFriends

8/3/06    wc 1918


dust and clutter can be your friends


by Jim Penn

Bernie Levy




When my friend and fellow writer, Bernie Levy Jim Penn, recently asked me to write about dust and clutter, I questioned his ridiculous request.  “Why me?”  I asked as we sat in my living room with Eric “Sloppy Dunker” Rappaport (aptly named for his donut-dunking addiction). 


Bernie Jim responded, “Who said that? I don’t see anyone.


“Why, me, you goofball,” I answered, shoving moving several thick picture books off from my coffee table so that he could havehad a clearer view.


“That’s why,” Bernie he said as he stood up to become visible and pointed to the table, heaped high with coffee table reading.tomes.  He then swept the room withwaved his hands to indicate there was more to consider. and continued, “If there ever was anyone who takes clutter and its brother, dust, to extremes, it’s certainly you.  I can’t understand how any woman would consider allow you to maintaincontinue a relationship with you for more than a couple of minutes once she sets foot in this house.”


It was then that Eric piped up,., “Oh, I dunno.  I had a cousin that was worse, but he’s dead now.  He was dead for weeks before he was discovered; t.  T, hey couldn’t but nobody could find him until they cleaned out his apartment.


I couldn’t take it any longer.  “That’s ridiculous.  You just made that up.  I’m not that bad.  If you want me to put down my thoughts, I will, but you must understand that there are rules to follow in when collecting dust and clutter.”


“You’ve got to be kidding,” Bernie laughed.  Jim exclaimed. “Let’s just take two examples in this room.  What rhyme or reason is there to pile books so high on your coffee table so high and compacted that nobody can choose one?  And, take that corner over there,” he said, pointing to the corner closest to my bedroom where my dust friends bunnies lived. ,iIt seems you’ve made little things out of dust that probably has piled up for years and then topped them off with little bits of ribbon and scraps of cloth.  What’s thatWhat’re they supposed to be?”


Eric added put in his two cents.  “Hey, that’s probably some kind of art.  Can’t you see what he’s done?; hHe’s built got several of those things dressed up.  Isn’t that right, JimBernie?”


JimYa’ know, Bernie, , Eric’s got an eye for dust and clutter. , I said.   I could easily convert him to the cause, I thought. , “Sb.  very easily bBut, since you’ve chosen you have choose to insulted me, I’m going to charge you fifty cents a word.   – “, enough for one day, I require that you pay me.  I’ll have e-mail my brilliant commentary on your email deskto you with in a week.


And, by the way, when you finish your beers, wash out the bottles and put them under the sink.  There’s some behavior I won’t tolerate.”


They took the hint, washed their bottles, put them in the proper place, carved a path to the door, and left.  I surveyed my kingdom.  It wasn’t so bad:.  mMy décor of dust and clutter was had been well thought- -out.


So, here’s my contribution to the search for truth and meaning in living and making friends with dust and clutter.


First, let’s take the subject of dust. I could get technical, but I’m not going to.  As many know, dDust is made up of many elements, all of which are particles falling from something or someone.  After a brief time, this accumulation leaves a film on objects that mutes their coloration and takes on nuances of its own.


Most Many people confuse dust with dirt and periodically clean compulsively to excess.  become compulsive while they try to remove it. compulsively try to remove dust periodically. Dust is the reason for many inventions, including bBusters (dust), , mops and cloths.  mops (dust), and cloths (dust).  Industries have risen and fallen because of dust and its earthier cousin, dirt,. These includeing cleaners, cleaning companies, and household cleaning systems.  H, however, .  But, treat dust with respect and friendship,, and dust will can be your friend.


There areSome people that recognize (and fear) an dust mites, those miniscule creatures that resideanimals that lives in dust, . namely the dust mite. If you’ve read In the cartoon strip, “A Rose iIs a Rose, Rose, a pretty, foxy, and dutiful mother and wife, is deathly afraid of dust mitesthem.  The cartoon strip’s creator creatively illustrates a dust mite,them as a most horrific, imposing insects.  But, when drawn out of proportion. But, golly, everything has a right to live for some time on this earth.


I’ve known people, mostly women, whose main life’s mission goal in life is to get rid of dust before it even settles.  I say to those people, “Get a life!  There sare more important things to do than compulsively dust your life away.”  Sure, it doesn’t hurt to dust once in a while; my rule of thumb is to dust that at least once a year,  whether it needs it or not,   but no more than quarterly.


Everybody looks on the cloudy side of life when it comes to dust.  However, Tthere are real benefits to dust accumulation.   For instance, consider the following when establishing a loving relationship,. yYou want that person to be loved you for more than just your beauty.  I, for one, don’t want to be just a pretty face; I want a woman to love me for my intellect, my sense of humor, and my companionship.  Dust can assist in your search quest for the perfect mate and as well as provide other benefits.  Consider:

·        Dust can be an early warning system.  If my your date is put off by dust, she’s not the woman for meyou.  She’s obviously not looking for a lasting, true relationship.  My rule:  of thumb is, dDoes someone like you me for your my neatness or because you’re I’m a neat person?

·        Dust is also an early warning system to ascertain whether your possible lover isalerts you to her susceptibleility to allergies.  All Aallergies are not all all bad;, and they, too, can be your friends under certain circumstances.,  bBut I like need to know early in the relationship if someone is prone to allergiesthem.  It’s just one question item on my short list 137 questions that I ask within the first two weeks of dating.

·        Dust is a telltale sign about your personality, particularly when you cultivate dust pets.  bunnies. The “things” that Though he didn’t know it, Eric Jim had identified in my house were my dust friendsbunnies, —— the the my pets that keep on giving.  Oh,But I have more than just bunnies; I have my dust dogs and dust cats, as well as bunnies.  ., too. You I grow them over a period of timefor a few months , and then you I dress them up.  Creativity is the watchword in this pet world.  They’re very understanding; their maintenance is low; you I never have to take them to the vet; they grow on you me in time; they keep you me company.  Their only drawbacks are that you I can’t take them when you I move and you I have to put them to rest before you I get your my cleaning deposit back.

·        Last, Aalthough most cleaning manufacturers, suppliers, and professionals will keep this truth from you, dust can be a protective coating.


There are times when dusting is appropriate and beneficial.  The list is short.  Actual and anticipated vVisits from mothers and prospective mothers-in-laws require targeted dusting to establish your respectability.  to assure them that you can take care of yourself and are are respectaible.  It also helps keep harmony within the family.  To obtain keep your some sense of dignity and  to limit hypocrisy, I suggest that you only dust only those areas that will be inspected.  You know your mother and future mother-in-law, if applicable, better than I do, but, in the event that you do not, dust those areas which that are most available to the white- glove and heavy-finger-touching techniques.  TheseYour “watch guardsThese champions of cleanliness test windowsills, picture frames, and tables most that are easily reached when sitting inaccessible in from the kitchen, living living room, and dining roomss.  Don’t forget the TV and other appliances. If you take out the good china (you have good china?)   on days when they visit, make sure that those dishesthey are washed or at least dusted.  You do not need to dust for uninvited family, including hypercritical aunts.  Discovering Their Ffinding a little dust can make in their cases makes them more human.  Finally, it’s always appropriate to dust once a month in your bedroom area, particularly around the bed.  Excessive dust accumulation of dust can affect your night breathing and increases the possibility of snoring, which may not be bad in itself.


Don’t hesitate to spread the word about dust friendliness to friends and support groups.  There are DFAs (Dust Friends of America) springing up in all parts of this great country, and joining one is a good way to meet friends with similar tastes.  The DFA (Dust Friends of America) is closely akin to the AML (Anti-Mop League) and a stalwart enemies enemy of the NCC (Notoriously Compulsive Cleaners).  I have misplaced DFA’s the  wWeb site, but they DFA advertises in one of my favorite magazines, Modern Garbage.



Going hand- and in- hand with “living with dust” is the collection of clutter. The CCC (Constructive Clutter Collectors), a national organization, CCC (Constructive Clutter Collectors), is financially supported by the ACCC (the Association of Credit Card Companies). I particularly enjoy CCC’s motto:, “A cluttered mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Your mind and your surroundings should be as full of as much stuff as you can handle. The secret , of course, is to know how much clutter you and your personality can take.

Not only are dust and clutter compatible, the accumulation ofbut also clutter often makes it impossible to dustdusting difficult, thereby building in an important anti-dusting mechanism. A clean table invites , even sometimes cries out for , a wipe from a dust cloth. However, fill it with knickknacks, gewgaws, and doodads, and it’s dust and clutter heaven.

The collection of cClutter collecting promotes good health. Frequent visits to flea markets, garage sales, and antique stores promote walking, stooping, and jumping up and down when you find make a particularly good bargain.  buy. I wish to thank my good friend, Red “Dusty” Sindora, for allowing me to use his classifications of clutter:

Daily living clutter,

Lapses-in-memory clutter,

Collectible clutter,

Friendship clutter and

Event clutter

Ego clutter

7.   Trauma Cclutter resulting from trauma, e.g., death, divorce, birth, graduation and injuries.

Briefly, dDaily living clutter results from simply living your life. Remarks like, “Gee, this is a nice plastic container. I think I’ll wash out the mold and keep it for future use,” facilitate this type oftrigger great collectingons. Forgetting if you’ve ever begaun or have stopped collecting an particular item is an example of Llapses-in-memory clutter,. Ffor example, “I’ll just put this used bicycle seat right here in the hallway until I find my used bicycle seat collection, if I ever started one.” Collectible clutter is the easiest one:, namely adding to a collection that you’ve already started and one you’vehave identified as a possible major future investment. Old fly fishing reels are is a a good example, as are is used wine bottle corks. I must have five collections cartons of corks all over the place because, when I retire;, I plan ’m going to build something grand with them.

Clutter received from friends Friendship clutter merits special attention. These items need to be prominently displayed when your friends visit, b. Since,Because you never know when a friendthey  is going tomay drop in. , I suggest that you show them your friends the objects of their affection (or dislike) as soon as they cross the threshold. Inconspicuously labeling who gave them to you helps.

Event cClutter is a fun and common source of clutter and a fun one at that. Event clutterthat could turn into Ccollectable Cclutter,  but often the collector is notyou may not be sufficiently motivated to continue the collectingon. For instance, memorabilia from a baseball game or two is most important to keep. However, those of us who do not have season tickets are not positioned to continue the collection.yet  and, [u5] [u6] fickle as we are, may even decide to go to Attending an occasional basketball or hockey game. You know what that will produce: more may generate collectable mementos. It’s fun to collect this stuff, particularly when you take home a photo of yourself and Big Dog, the team mascot.

Ego cClutter  can may be the most expensive clutter category. because Iit supports a person’sa passion for focused personal possessions and displays of wealth and power. Sportsmen in particularly take partparticipate in this type of clutter with, such as those hunters who amass large collections of rifles, shotguns, and the occasional antique Thompson submachine gun or the more current Uzi. Fishermen also are known to accumulate redundant collections of rods, reels, and lures of every description.

Lastly, Clutter resulting from trauma trauma clutter  is becoming one of America’s greatest problems. Since Because the divorce rate remains high, the clutter from broken marriages takes up many a storage unit, as well as spare bedrooms, garages, and attics. If you are already cluttered-up (that also may be a cause reason for divorce) and are divorcing, you may want to aggravate anger your divorcing  soon-to-be ex-spouse (not a good idea) (not a good idea) by destroying a lot of “marriage stuff,.” That which will allows you to free up some space for more coveted clutter.

There is a rhyme and reason in for all clutter decisions. Using a reporter’s six questions – when, what, where, why, who, and how – will help you figure out your reasons, but consider the following as well. Was your clutter acquisition decision:

[u7] Made while inebriated?

Made in haste?

Made alone or with others, like under peer pressure?

Made as an “all- or- nothing” decision?

A result of movement of clutter from one location to another?  

In summary, it’s clear that clutter and dust and clutter are only enemies only if you view them as such. They’re wonderfully compatible with each other and, as we all know, the family that doesn’t dust and accumulates clutter together is a family that stays sticks together.





Going hand-in-hand with dust is clutter, but I’ve run out of space.  Hopefully, Bernie will continue with clutter next week.



 [u1]Add okay?

 [u2]Another add of mine.

 [u3]Change okay? It's more precise.

 [u4]Another add. Okay?

 [u5]You had deleted this, but I think it really fits in.


 [u7]Use round bullets instead of squares. You used round ones on p. 3.