Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cat Bath

I’m about to bring out a new condo listing and I’ve offered my client a little extra help because he’s a man living on his own without a helpmate and he’s out of state at the moment helping his father who is also a man living on his own without a helpmate.

A helpmate wipes down the kitchen counter, gathers the recycling, notices the PG&E bill is late, reattaches the dryer hose, takes the car to be washed, talks to the neighbors about the clanging gate, goes to the hardware store for a new toilet flange, empties the dishwasher, sweeps the soot from the front stairs.

The helpmate performs these tasks while you strain penne pasta, remove the dripping compost, balance the checkbook, procure washable placemats, clean the chocolate from around the cabinet handles, hang the delicates to dry, write a thank -you note, toss the moldy strawberries, scrub the floor of the shower.

I’ve been helping my bachelor client by having keys made and meeting the housecleaner and letting the technician in to reverse the handle on the new fridge door. As a matter of fact, at this moment, I’m sitting on the living room sofa in my new listing enjoying a summer-grey view of Ashbury Heights, while the window washer washes the windows. I’m hearing squeegee squeaks, water dripping and the thunk of a bucket on the floor.

There’s a cat in the window across the street. Actually, I’m not sure it’s a cat because I can’t quite see it, but its movements suggest a cat. Some flicks and flashes, languorous stretching, burst of orange fur. Or is it someone washing their hands at the sink? Yes. Someone is at the sink. Someone washing a cat?

Before I sat down here on the couch I peeled the blue plastic off the new stainless refrigerator and stove in the kitchen. I’m sitting because it was exhausting! I swear it took 30 minutes of carefully distributing the weight of my fingers on the edge of the film and then pulling – slowly, evenly and firmly. It was a lot like removing the barcode label from the glass front of a picture frame. One false move and you’re hosed. If it comes off clean, you’re a hero.

I need to remember to bring over some WD40 later, in order to clean up the fingerprints on the stainless surface. Never, ever buy stainless appliances is my advice: Unless you can afford to hire a full-time stainless cleaner or unless you appreciate that quaint smudgy spattered look. Then again, you could just leave the factory plastic wrap in place. It’s actually rather striking, reminiscent of a robins-egg-blue Frigidaire.

Now, back to the window across the way: Is he really washing a cat?

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