Friday, February 15, 2013

"Three Chairs for Jerry"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

A man’s home is his hassle. That’s why he needs a throne to sit on. And I’m not talking about one made of porcelain.

I refer, of course, to a guy chair -- a big, comfortable seat he can relax in after performing such exhausting tasks as throwing out the garbage or picking up his dirty socks and underwear, a place fit for a king while he sits in front of the TV and either watches sports for hours on end or struggles to stay awake for the 11 o’clock news.

My wife, Sue, bless her heart, said I needed one. So we went furniture shopping.

When we arrived at the store, Sue told the greeter, who did her job well by greeting us, that we had an appointment with a saleswoman named Melody. The greeter telephoned Melody, who was in another part of the store, and said, “There are guests at the front desk.”

“This sounds like a hotel,” I said. “If we’re guests, can we stay overnight?”

“Sure,” the greeter answered. “We have bedroom furniture upstairs.”

I noticed a bar with wine glasses and empty bottles.

“Did I miss happy hour?” I asked.

“Yes,” the greeter said. “We just finished the wine.”

While we were waiting for Melody, I walked around the store, which probably had more chairs, tables, beds, bureaus, sofas and nightstands than Buckingham Palace. There were enough footstools for an ottoman empire.

“Try out the chairs,” Sue suggested.

“You want me to sit around and do nothing?” I asked. “That’s what I do at home.”

At that point, Melody showed up and said she was helping another customer but that we would be in good hands with Gloria.

“We’re looking for a chair,” Sue told her.

“What kind?” Gloria inquired.

“A guy chair,” I said. “For me.”

Then I proceeded to tell Gloria the long, sad story of the history of all the chairs that were supposed to be for me but were co-opted by Sue or our various pets, including our late, beloved dog, Lizzie, and our still-living cats, Kitty and her fat daughter, Bernice.

“The first time we got a chair that was ostensibly for me, we put it in the family room and Sue started sitting in it to watch ‘Law & Order’ and all her other shows,” I explained. “I was relegated to the rocking chair. At least I got to practice for my old age, which is rapidly approaching.”

“You don’t look old,” said Gloria.

“That’s because I’m shockingly immature,” I replied. “It makes me seem younger.”
Sue agreed.

“Anyway,” I continued, “the chair was getting clawed by our cats, so Sue put a slipcover on it. Then she said we needed another chair.”

“It was supposed to be for him,” Sue chimed in.

“Was it?” Gloria asked.

“No,” I said. “Sue started using it and our dog took over the first chair. She didn’t even watch ‘Law & Order.’ We put it in the living room, which we seldom use. I still sat in the rocking chair.”

“Now we’re looking for a third chair,” Sue said. “This time it’s really for Jerry.”

I picked out a very comfortable club chair that matched the sofa and the second chair.

“It’s the only chair that Cindy Crawford attaches herself to,” Gloria informed me. “She uses it for her collection.”

“Does this mean Cindy will be visiting us to watch TV?” I asked excitedly.

“She doesn’t come with the chair,” Gloria responded.

“That’s OK,” I said. “She’d only take it over and I’d have to sit in the rocker again.”

The new club chair was delivered a few days later and put in the family room. I’d like to say I enjoy it, but our cats have taken it over.

As always, I am not going to take this sitting down.
Copyright 2013 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Self-Maid Man"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

I could never see myself in a little French maid’s outfit, except on weekends while doing my household chores, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever wear one because: (a) I probably couldn’t find something like that in my size and (b) I don’t speak French.

But that didn’t stop me from becoming a maid recently when I joined a team from The Maids, a national house cleaning service, and helped clean my own house.

I wasn’t required to wear a little French maid’s outfit -- a yellow Maids polo shirt and a pair of khakis composed the official attire -- but I did have to work hard to get all the dirt and dust off floors and out of corners so the house would be, as it often isn’t after I am done with my chores, spotless.

I called The Maids ( because a husband’s work is never done and, in nearly 35 years of marriage, I have improved my vacuuming, scrubbing and dusting skills to the point where I wondered if I were good enough to be a professional.

“We’ll find out,” said Ken Quenstedt, who owns The Maids franchise that serves northwestern Suffolk County, N.Y., where I live.

Ken came over in a yellow Maids car with four team members: Maria, Mayra, Melanie and Ingris. They were soon joined by Jenny, the field supervisor.

My wife, Sue, who keeps a clean house despite my help, served as the domestic supervisor.

“Jerry didn’t know how to work the washing machine until a few years ago,” Sue told Ken. “But he’s a lot better at chores than he used to be.”

“I’m best at ironing,” I bragged, “because I’m a member of the press.”

“Vacuuming is my specialty,” said Ken, like me an empty nester whose wife appreciates his (not always superlative) efforts around the house.

I thought I was pretty good at it, too, but neither Ken nor I had anything on Maria, who had a space-age vacuum cleaner strapped to her back. It looked like a scuba tank, from which extended a hose with an attachment that Maria expertly maneuvered over the carpeting, along the ceiling and around corners.

“May I try it?” I asked Maria, who graciously helped me strap on the vacuum and showed me how to operate it without getting entangled in the cord, which I did anyway.

“You’re doing a good job,” she said.

I did an even better job of dusting after watching Ingris, the team leader, deftly use her dust cloth on the bureaus and nightstands in the master bedroom.

“I usually dust around things,” I confessed.

“You have to move them,” said Ingris, who was impressed when I followed instructions and did the job right.

“Could I be part of the team?” I asked.

“Yes!” she answered.

Jenny was impressed with my toilet-cleaning prowess after showing me how to correctly use a brush in the porcelain convenience.

“Very good,” she declared.

I was flush with excitement. It was my turn to be impressed after watching Melanie scrub down the tile in another bathroom until it was immaculate.

When I noticed that the team members were wearing shoe covers, Mayra explained, “We don’t want to bring dirt into the house.”

“My feet are so big,” I said, “I should wear garbage bags.”

Instead, the foursome used garbage bags for, yes, garbage, which they emptied out of wastebaskets.

After an hour and a half, they were finished.

“The house has never looked so clean!” Sue exclaimed.

I thanked the hardworking crew for a magnificent job and told Ken that they inspired me to be an even better house cleaner.

“Whenever you do chores,” he suggested, “you can wear the yellow shirt.”

“At least,” I said with a sigh of relief, “I won’t have to wear a little French maid’s outfit.”

Copyright 2013 by Jerry Zezima