Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mr. Clean

Steel on Christmas Eve in her Christmas outfit: her brother's digger-man boots, frosty leg warmers, black leggings and her "Detroit Rock City" black thermal underwear shirt...

I actually have nightmares about Sharpies.

We live in a super-sustainable, award-winning home that my husband designed. The counter tops are white Corian. My husband and his partners/brothers intend to sell the home, so some of its modernist minimal perfection has to remain intact.
One August day I let my son play with a spray bottle of water. I soon regretted that decision as spray bottles became his obsession, and normally spray bottles contain toxic chemicals. I had the same experience with washable magic markers on the Corian counter tops. I let the kids graffiti them. I was probably feeling like a hip mom exposing her kids to the idea of process rather than product as we'd always wipe away their masterpieces. Now all surfaces are fair game, and they don't know one art supply from another. Did you know that sidewalk chalk on drywall is permanent?

My 2-year-old daughter is the graffiti artist. She hasn't hit the fairy princess stage yet. I'm not sure she ever will. I came to pick them up at daycare during dress-up time. My son was predictably Buzz Lightyear. I scanned the princesses and ballet dancers for my daughter's face to no avail. She was wearing a black muscle man outfit. Her one concession to glamour is lip gloss. I found her hiding at a friend's house in what I can only refer to as a "lip gloss stupor." She looked up at me with blue sparkle lip gloss covering every inch of skin and every strand of hair and said dreamily, "Mama, I'm beautiful." Of course lipstick is the next step. In desperation during one of the snow days I let her play with my make up. She's very fond of one of my "flight-delayed-too-much-time-at-the-duty free-shop" tubes of Yves St. Laurent red lipstick which is the make-up equivalent to a Sharpie. I have to give her some credit; she wasn't actively grafitti-ing the bathroom white Corian, but the constant climbing up and down to admire her reflection with her thick little ham hands covered in Yves left the counters somewhat violated. My calm as I used some water on a piece of black dirty laundry to wipe them clean turned into stomach-in-the-throat all-out panic. Those prints weren't budging.

In my mind Tim was serving the divorce papers on me when the "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser" popped into my head. I don't ever rhapsodize about cleaning products except for oxy-clean, so it's been strange for me to sit through MULTIPLE sonnets by other mothers to Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser. I was bequeathed a section of one by another mommy-potter. She buys hers and cuts them into pieces to make them last. I threw it in with the other ignored cleaning products. That evening I ended up putting "you saved my marriage" in the subject heading of an e-mail to her.

I have another connection to Mr. Clean. My friend had become so constipated after one of those barium body scan things that her husband had to go to Walgreens multiple times one afternoon for enemas. That probably wasn't fun for him, but to add to it, they lived in the Castro. (the gay neighborhood in San Francisco) He's a good-looking guy, so his repeat performances were not going unnoticed. On purchase number 3 the queen behind the counter said to him with a leer, "Well you really ARE Mr. Clean now aren't you?!"


  1. Those Magic Erasers are equally good at removing stage scuffs from white go-go boots after doing splits in them.

  2. I feel like there should be a little Jane Fonda workout soundtrack music that plays when you click on this photo of Steel. She's totally got the look--the leg warmers, the lean, the slightly bored spaciness...adorable. Love the blog. Now I can binge on Liz Kinder stories on a regular basis!