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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HUMOR genre (04/12/07)

TITLE: Cleaning, Critters and Canine Abilities
By Joanne Malley


Cleaning, Critters and Canine Abilities

Nothing compares to a death-defying excursion into foul, hostile territory.

Dressed in a sterile, surgical steel body glove, gas mask and protective eyewear, I contemplated encroaching on terrain quarantined by the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite my uncanny resemblance to the newest in high-tech cookware, I never looked better. However, I felt insufficiently protected from the dangers in my teenager’s bedroom.

With a load of folded laundry, was it worth venturing in?

Regardless of rigorous cleaning instructions, my lovely darling devised her own brilliant plan to eradicate dirt in her filthy quarters. Granted, there’s an off chance I’m wrong, but any method that requires one to aimlessly suck through a used straw while watching t.v. is fruitless. Ultimately, my main concern was the unidentified species that may exponentially multiply before my eyes.

At the very least, she’s occasionally opened a window for a hint of fresh air. When stretching her efforts, she’s tricked me with a spray or two of Lemon Fresh Pledge toward the center of the room. Once, she even hung a dust cloth from the lampshade. Gosh…she almost had me that day.

Before entering, I reckoned I might not survive. I pushed aside the triviality of death and forged in anyway. With my snout to the ground, I hunted for creatures that resembled those in petri dishes and sang Billy Joel’s song , “Only the Good Die Young.”

Once inside, I was clueless to the copious amount of filth that could leech onto my head, reproduce and devour my scalp. The thought made welts and a boiling fever emerge. Without hesitation, I recited the 23rd Psalm with urgency and fervor in a tongue-twisted fit. I fearfully waited to start foaming at the mouth.

On one occasion, my daughter’s friend lost an earring in there, ventured under the bed to retrieve it and emerged bald. Who knew an assembly of sweaty gym socks could emit noxious gases? Actually, aside from the extreme outcome, I was more than proud my daughter conducted such an advanced science experiment with no planning, effort or brainpower.

Despite the painful embarrassment the incident caused me, the girl’s mother had me removed as PTA President. I was also unjustly banned from future bake sale fundraisers and box top counting parties.

Her actions were extreme. After all, what’s a little hair? It does grow back.

Anyway, when pictures of my face showed up on telephone poles in town, I was miffed. Even with my keen, dog-like sense of smell, shame would kill me faster than the putrescent stench emanating from my daughter’s closet. Then, my efforts would fall to the wayside just like the Singing Sally doll did from my daughter’s shelf. The question is…what ate her?

As punishment for putting me through the ordeal, I made my daughter go directly to her room, eat dinner on the sticky floor and sleep in her leftovers. One should never underestimate the power that ground-in, creamed asparagus has on designer nightwear. “Don’t spare the rod,” the Lord says. I pride myself on being creative with his commands.

I’ve realized cornering her in her room, pounding my fists and screaming gets me nowhere. All it does is blow excess dust around and defeat my purpose of behaving like a raving lunatic…which by the way, is my prerogative.

Frankly, motherhood should come with an exorbitant salary and better protective gear - or at the very least – a nose unlike a canine with the ability to sniff out rancid organisms from down the block.

I’m baffled how she’s flourished and grown into a healthy young lady under wretched living conditions. It’s a God thing for sure because her insides are squeaky clean. She knows the art of giving and compassion. Between her cleaning fests, she’s managed to learn the language of love. And most importantly, God comes before the newest heartthrob clad in body piercings.

All this while, I swore she was hearing challenged. Though I stand corrected for once, she’s certainly made her mama proud.

As ludicrous as it sounds, the day she heads off to college you’ll find me in tears curled up amidst the vile muck. But, for now, the yellow tape remains across the door to keep the populous out, intact and alive.

The ordeal taught me that demanding a clean room is a futile waste. My time is better spent raising my husband.

Now, it’s high time I remove this stylin’ get-up, lock the door behind me and pray I don’t start barking anytime soon.

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This article has been read 1492 times
Member Comments
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Sara Harricharan 04/19/07
Cute! Kinda reminds me of a certain someone's bedroom though...very good descriptions. I felt as if I were there wading through the stuff too.
Joanne Sher 04/19/07
Your descriptive language is wonderfully amazing and amazingly wonderful. You have a wonderful way of putting us right in the middle of the action. Oh -and it's VERY funny, too! ;)
Rita Garcia04/19/07
ROFL! Not only is this funny, you found a way to use humor to show the important side of life! This was a real treat!
Julie Arduini04/20/07
The absolute best part was the friend who went under the bed to retrieve the earring and came back bald from the noxious gasses. What a gem this is, very well done!
Sheri Gordon04/21/07
I had no idea teenage girls' rooms could smell as bad as teenage boys' rooms. Great words/phrases used for your descriptions.
James Wood04/21/07
Slightly overexaggerated, since the both the narrator and the setting give the feeling of dirtiness and mock danger. If the setting gives that message, then the reader draws the conclusion. If the narrator then repeats that impression, it pushes the description into redundency. Ease back a bit, and let the state of the room tell of itself.

Your use of words like "copious" and phrases like "resembled cookware" add enough comedy to the narrative to let it stand on its own and harmonize with the setting's comedy.
Jan Ackerson 04/23/07
I love your voice, your style, your vocabulary--this is just all 'round fun!
Val Clark04/24/07
Loved the voice. For me it resonates with the tones of stand up comedy! Very funny look at an issue that many parents have to face, fight and ultimately accept. yeggy
Tabiatha Tallent04/24/07
Oh man, when I read this, I felt like I was in the middle of my 9 year old's room. LOL. Great work.
Marty Wellington 04/25/07
Okay, now seriously, have you been in my 18-year old daughter's room? Yes, I'm sure you have. Am I right?

Anyway, this was marvelous on so many levels. I could TOTALLY relate.
Jacquelyn Horne04/25/07
Good article. My daughter's and son's rooms were as bad. But my son, at least, would tackle his when the mood struck him. My daughter's idea of a clean room was moving to another house.
Shari Armstrong 04/25/07
lol - who knew? great stuff!
Cheri Hardaway 04/25/07
Brought back memories from when my son was living at home. Never did figure out what that "smell" was in his room! Blessings, Cheri
Betty Castleberry04/25/07
Been there, done that. Thanks for the memories. This was a fun read.
joe hodson04/26/07
Congratulations on your 1st EC place win!!
Lynda Lee Schab 04/26/07
Yay! Joanne won first place! Why am I not surprised it's in the humor category? Too fun. Despite the humor, the scene you painted rings remarkably true. :-)Congrats, girl!
Helen Paynter04/26/07
Congratulations! (And you've got me quaking in my boots for when my girls get to adolescence!) Very funny, well deserved win.
Pat Guy 04/26/07
Oh Jo! Finally! The JoJo we all love and adore back in true JoJo aplomb! ;)

Congratulations girl!
Loren T. Lowery04/26/07
Wonderful sense of humor and writing style. What a story and oh so true. Congratulations on your win!
Julie Arduini04/26/07
Congratulations on your win, so well deserved. This was priceless!
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/26/07
Congrats on your win! Ug, reminds me (just a little) of my own room and I hate that! Heh. I was a little confused about the use of the word "clueless" in paragraph six, since she wasn't clueless, but otherwise a great story!
Sally Hanan04/26/07
A very well-deserved first place with this one:) I can only say yea in response to every one of your descriptions - my DS's room is even worse.
william price04/26/07
Pure Jo Jo here. My favorite kind of humor at its best. Glad this one was recognized at the top of the heap. Not only entertaining, funny, but touching as well and written like a Master. Congrats my eastcoast friend.
God bless.
Cheri Hardaway 04/27/07
Congratulation, Jo! Wonderfully funny. Blessings, Cheri
Clyde Blakely07/12/08
My wife gave up raising her husband. Hope you're stronger than her...