Put That Back!

Mar 09

I have a cleaning person (we don’t call them ladies any more, ladies ) named Eva, who is lovely and cleans up a storm. She hardly breaks anything, and if I left cash lying around, I would find it on my desk, the bills ironed, the coins polished and stacked in neat piles. She’s also reliable, shows up on time, and doesn’t drink the liquor.

So what could possibly be the problem? Well, you know that I MUST have something to complain about, every day if possible, but definitely on Tuesdays and Fridays when I write new posts, but  honestly, there is an actual problem here, and it is simply this: she moves things . . .

pats_jewelry_tree.jpgReal panic occurred the day she “straightened out” my jewelry, putting the antique ring given to me by a dear friend into the little mesh pouch that holds a costume necklace and earrings that look, to be honest, very much like the ring, which is the real thing.  When it wasn’t where it was supposed to be, and Eva was long gone, back to her own digs presumably to happily rearrange her own things, I freaked. (“It’s in here someplace!” was absolutely no consolation.) I was positive I had somehow lost it. . I am capable of losing anything.

Did I ever tell you about the underwear I lost near the Spanish Steps in Rome? No? Another time, another blog. Promise.

Well, I found the ring. Phew! And Eva and I cleared it up about the other rings and things, plus I got one of those cute little torso ladies (women? headless mannequins? trees in dresses? It’s so hard to be politically correct these days!) that hold your jewelry, so all is okay in the baubles and bangles department. But what about the rest of my life, you might ask . . .

Well, Eva is on the job. Which is good, and bad.

She straightens up your desk so that it looks nice and neat as all get-out, but you can’t find anything. Where’s the checkbook? Where’s that check you were supposed to deposit? The business card of the person who’s going to give you a book deal? The menu for the Chinese restaurant? (You’re hungry!) Your blood pressure is not helped by these incidents, even though you find the missing items eventually, because she doesn’t throw them away, she just rearranges them.

She does, however, throw away those little tidbits of food that you were planning to eat. Hey! All the latest medical evidence indicates that lots of small meals are really good for you, and can keep you thin. Works for me. I admit that some of these tender morsels end up hidden in my fridge and eventually would qualify as exhibits at the New York Historical Society, but honestly, I do try to eat them soon. Well, “soon” wasn’t soon enough for Eva, so out they went, quicker than you could say, “Where’s that half a tuna sandwich I left on the counter?” Happily, Eva and I have cleared that up, too, and now, you can find little baggies of goodies in my refrigerator, my counter, and my kitchen cabinets.

Then there’s the bathroom. Bathroom problems are bad. Actually, the problem lies in the medicine chest above my sink, which, truth to tell, holds very little in the way of medicine. That’s in another cabinet. No, this one holds all the beauty products a woman (or this woman) thinks she needs to look sufficiently presentable to show her face (hair and neck) to the Outside World.

The problem arose because I’ve been getting more and more absent-minded lately. Bear in mind that I started out as an absent-minded little kid, never remembering to bring a pencil or paper (or both) to school and getting all A’s just the same, and have continued doing things in this time-honored tradition.

The piece de resistance (besides the underwear thing) was losing my senior thesis at college. I had to reconstruct it entirely from my notes, because, sigh, there was no copy. I got a B-, a grade I always rationalized by saying that something had gotten lost in the translation, but really, I probably wouldn’t have gotten an A anyway. It was on Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, in case anyone cares, and he lost lots of things too, including his sobriety, lots of times. Looking back, I probably lost the paper in some tavern or other myself. Who remembers?

But lately, “absent-minded” doesn’t begin to cover it for me. I forget where I put my glasses, even when they’re right in front of me, even when they’re on my head! Then I started noticing that when I put on makeup (wearing contacts, of course), that I often would forget something. Like the eyebrow pencil. Or the concealer. Or the lip gloss (to go over the lipstick). Okay, so it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature. But neither is it nice to go out without eyebrows, especially when you’ve got circles under your eyes and your lips are dry!

Luckily, I came up with a solution. I lined all the things up in the order that I use them. That way, I wouldn’t forget any of them. Simple, no? All great solutions are simple. Remember that. But alas, great is not perfect. Because then, Along Came Eva. And after she got through with them, all my bottles and lotions were sparkling clean but hopelessly mixed up, and not only might I forget to use the deodorant (lift an arm and lose a friend, anybody?), but on a really bad day I might mix up the toothpaste with the Preparation X (we don’t even want to go there).

So why don’t I just have another little talk with Eva? Well, there is a language barrier, although I do speak a few words of Polish, and her English is improving rapidly. (Lately she leaves me notes that are spelled better than most of the e-mails I receive.).  It was easy to explain about the leftover chicken or the precious jewel. But how in the name of household gods do I tell her about my Saving Face System — while still saving face? She thinks I’m rather eccentric as it is. And although I worked long and hard to achieve this level of eccentricity, I somehow don’t want to get into this with her.

So for the moment, I’ve come up with another plan. You knew I would, didn’t you?

I cleaned out the cabinet to get it down to the bare necessities: you know, eyelash curler, two shades of foundation, three kinds of blush, four cases of eye shadow, stuff you need.  Then I put all the lotions and liquid things on the second shelf, and all the “dry goods” (brushes, pencils and such) into a little black plastic rectangular container, which itself fits into another little black plastic rectangular container, which both fit into the first shelf of the cabinet.

Then, when I am ready to get to work —  or “put on my face,” as we so quaintly used to put it — I place both containers on the sink, side by side. And as I use something from the one that’s full, I put it into the one that’s empty. When I have successfully moved everything from one container to the other, my work here is done.

So, unless Eva decides to move the little rectangular boxes — or the medicine chest  — (she is big and strong besides being beautiful) — I am good to go, secure in the knowledge that everything was moved, nothing was missed. My face in place, my head held high.

Now, if I could just find my underwear . . . Come to think of it, it was the Trevi Fountain, not the Spanish Steps.


SEE ALSO: I’ve Lost it! AKA Law and DisOrder

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