by Mitch Lee
It was mid November in 1979, and my room had not seen a good cleaning in quite some time. My mother was very firm that no forays to the outdoors would occur until my room was dusted and vacuumed and I could see the floor.
I was pretty good at making piles out of my clothes, books, and art materials.
Most were piled on shelves or under the bed… and my closet had a life all its own.
I dreaded those Saturdays that occurred usually once each season when my mother would peek in the room and say, “This could use a good cleaning, and if you don’t do it, I will!”
The statement alone raised the hair on the back of my neck.
I knew she would use the opportunity to throw out as much “junk” as she could.
Well, my idea of junk and her idea of junk were miles apart.
My collection of bubble gum wrappers with jokes printed on them were a sort of project in the works, certainly not trash.
My several military models, all half-finished and stacked ever so precariously on the top shelves nagging to be finished, were thought by my mother to be ready for the dump.
The thought of even going through all the effort to move every item and dust under it seemed silly.
How could dust even get under that stack of comic books anyhow?
As for the pile of clothes, well, they were just handier to search through than a dresser drawer.
I mean, I could see a vast array of what to wear right out in the open.
I suppose my choices were something only a teenager could understand.
However, without my mother’s prodding I would probably never have found that seventh grade essay I was supposed to turn in the previous Friday, or the nose piece from the Battlestar Galactica that had mysteriously snuck under the nightstand.
Or even the left hand glove of my arctic Air Force-issued fifty degree below zero, fur-covered hand mucks, which had somehow ended up behind the bed in the corner.
A few hours later, after I had dusted, repiled piles, and sorted my laundry, it was time to vacuum the floor.
I hauled in my mother’s best friend: her 1977 ball-shaped Hoover complete with an array of attachments that was considered a marvel in the world of cleaning vessels.
But I found it to be too short on cord and hose. And other than being a great device for irritating our cat, it was no fun.
With half my Saturday eaten up by the chore, I tried to get myself into the right frame of mind for an outdoor adventure.
One great thing that came out of the task was that I found my gyroscope.
I had always wanted to see what would happen if I floated it on a board on the lake.
I spent the next hour trying to fish it out of the lake with a twelve-foot-long stick.
What fun it was…and it never would have happened if I had not cleaned the top shelf of my bedroom closet.
Mitch Lee, Adirondack native & storyteller, lives at Inlet. firstname.lastname@example.org