Ms. Clean

August 12, 2013

As in Mr. Clean,” the cleaning product avatar.

Yesterday I was wrestling with a moldering wardrobe trunk in my mother’s basement,  She had gotten it for going away to college, upon instructions from the college.  It has a section for dresses and gowns, which had been listed as needed, too.  I used the trunk one summer for camp, even though it was less of a good fit for the clothing we were told to bring.

My mother wants to hire someone to remove the trunk, as well as a couch and a few other large and bulky items she will never use (such as a car rack).  I wanted to make sure there was nothing in the trunk before she has it taken away.

It’s lying on its side in the basement.  The latching mechanism with the lock didn’t seem to want to budge, so we brought down some keys.  However, it turned out not to be locked — with a screwdriver, I was able to pry up the piece.  The other latches worked, and I opened the thing.  I had to drag it away from the furnace to do so, because I needed to have enough room to open it up flat.

Then I used the key that was tied there to open the locking mechanism securing the drawers.  Opening the drawers was a challenge because they had become warped.  But I was able to open all of them enough to see that there was nothing inside.  On the other side, where the gowns go, the wooden hangers were still there — and intact!  Maybe they are cedar?  That compartment, too, was empty.

Now I had to close the thing up.  This took some doing, including making sure the top lid was in place while I picked up the hanging side and and tried to get all the parts to settle into each other completely.  It didn’t work the first two times I tried, and I tried closing the thing the other way — picking up the drawer side.  Doing that revealed all kinds of mold on its back.  And putting that side on top didn’t help get the sides to mesh, so I reopened the thing.  My mother pointed out the key needed to be removed, and, while the trunk still wouldn’t close, it gave me the idea that it wasn’t the hanging bars that were interfering by sliding out, but rather the top drawer not closing flush with the structure it fits into that was preventing closure.  To close the top drawer completely again, I needed a hammer.  I think it wasn’t closing flush because the boards had become so warped.

Anyway, I banged, the drawer moved, I closed the trunk completely, latched the two side latches, left the locking latch hanging loosely, and then shoved the trunk back into the space between the stairs and the furnace.


But here’s the remarkable thing.  While my hands were indeed dirty, neither my white tee shirt nor my jeans had gotten dirty at all.  I was surprised to see this when my mother pointed it out to me.  She had seen me wrestling with the trunk, and I know I had my legs up against it at times, in order to get an angle adequate for maneuvering it and its parts, and maneuvering them safely, given my height (short) and strength (not too shabby but I’m no athlete).

So I like that my encounter with the trunk left me only with dirt on my hands, which I was able to wash off easily with just soap and water.

I always wondered if Mr. Clean’s cleanness in the face of dirt could be real.


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