Apparently, I’m a liar. This is highly disappointing since I tell my children regularly that “liars live with the Devil.”
And then I cackle and threaten to get them vaccinated.
My husband is big on the budget. I recently won a particularly empowering budget war and took home a cleaning lady.
She was scheduled for her big debut a little more than a week ago. After four hours of pre-cleaning for the cleaning lady, not a sock was out of place. I had toys and books and clothing organized, found homes for things that were still camping in boxes and pre-spotted my kitchen floor.
By the time Wednesday night rolled around, I was wiped (so was my house) and ready for someone to handle all the messy work — mopping, vacuuming, bathrooms, and so on.
I woke Thursday morning with giddy excitement, but 10 minutes before her ETA she called in sick. It was completely deflating.
Now, it was her much anticipated, and revamped, debut. I have waited with baited breath and stubbornly dirty bathrooms for more than two weeks. The night before, I put another two-plus hours into refitting and reorganizing the flotsam and jetsam so she wouldn’t be scared off.
“Hello!” I said, opening my door with a smile.
She looked nice enough, early 40s, German, over-dressed. Over-dressed?
I ushered her inside and we began the tour of the house. When we finally made our way back to the kitchen, I handed her my list and pointed out the supplies neatly laid out on the table.
“Oh!” she said with a little start, “No no, I can’t clean today. My daughter has a meeting at school. She told me yesterday, so I can’t stay. Sorry. Next week for sure,” she said.
I closed the door as she left with a little extra force and looked around my seriously dirty house. It hasn’t seen a real mop job in … I don’t know how long. The toilets are unmentionable, and I kind of wanted to cry.
To make matters worse, that meant I’d have to return the cleaning budget cash to the bank account. I’ve totally overspent this pay period (it’s called magic diet juice and was a necessary investment) and hate to think of that much-needed paper fuel going to waste.
What if I cleaned the house? I looked at my watch. Two hours before my husband’s arrival. Could I really do a four-hour job that fast?
And what if he asked me about it? Then again, if he asked if the cleaning lady came, I could honestly smile and say, “Yep.”
And without another thought, I was off. I started at the top, squeegying my way down four floors of windows, dusting, doing bathrooms and mopping. I took extra care to make it look like someone far more talented than I am did the actual cleaning.
Just as I wiped down the last toilet seat, Mr. Prompt walked in the front door next to the bathroom. I shut off the light, shoved my supplies into the corner and casually emerged.
“Hey baby,” he said, “Did the cleaning lady come today?”
“So how did she do?” he asked.
How did she do? What kind of question was that? I hadn’t thought that far into my deceit. That was also the moment I remembered the countless hours my man has logged practicing and learning the fine art of human lie detection.
“Oh … you know.” I said, trying to avoid outright dishonesty and jail time.
“What do you mean? Did she do a good job or didn’t she?”
“Honey, you’ve got to give these people time. A person can’t really tell anything this early on …”
“What are you talking about?” he asked, “How much did you pay this woman?”
And that’s when I knew there was no way I could look my husband in the eye and tell such a big, fat, live-with-the-Devil lie. I sat down on the bench, put my head in my hands and spilled the whole sordid tale.
The worst part? He thinks the house looks amazing and wants to know why I don’t just do this every week.
I think my sister’s mantra is right: Lying makes it worse.
Annie Valentine is a wife, mother and columnist. Readers can contact her at email@example.com or visit her blog at regardingannie.wordpress.com.