RANGE: From the space-age plastic sheen of the vinyl-tiled floor in the
germ-and-mildew-free basement, to the gleaming unclogged galvanized
raingutters and sanitized chimney on the well-scrubbed roof. . . amongst the
velvet-bagged untarnished silverware, the neatly stacked and daily-dusted
china, the square-cornered piles of plush and fluffy towels . . . in contour
corners . . . Pasteurized commodes . . . Everywhere a nosey neighbor or
critical in-law could pry, peer, sniff, or stroke with the fingertip of a white
glove—in every germ-free nook and sterilized cranny of the paranoid
nightmare of the American home.
HABITS: These wretched household creatures torment housewives into
frenzies of lustration by leaving thumb prints, dust motes, fly flecks, stains,
smudges, spots, and smears on the household furniture, utensils, hardware,
and dry goods. The poor haus-frau, her brain softened by the hysterical
importunings to hermetic hygiene on television—it is no coincidence her
favorite shows are called Soaps—is incited to further paroxysms of ablution
by the Scrububus’ mystical incantation:
“All Joy! Shout Jubilee! Bravo! Yes, Bon Ami, Behold Dawn Vanish
Like Magic! Cheer Bold Fantastik Future Era! Banish Sea Mist So Fast,
Vigilant Arm and Hammer! Whish, Comet! Dazzle! Twinkle, Beacon!
Sparkle! Cascade, Tide! Duz Pride Gain Favor? Preen, Fleecy, Brite, Downy,
HISTORY: As everyone knows, “Brownies” are the helpful household
spirits of England and Scotland, and many tales are told of their domestic
kindnesses. But when the first immigrant Brownie reported for duty in the
first American kitchen, the (Puritan Pilgrim) housewife saw only an
insalubrious brown smudge besmirching her spotless white tile, and clubbed
him with a bar of lye soap. Our national obsession with high-gloss disinfected
surfaces is the Brownies’ revenge.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: Spotters, indeed! Out! Out! OUT!
*The Scrububus, that Mother’s Little Helper, keeps places like Iowa squeakyclean.