The Best of Andy Rooney

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published Jan. 2, 1992.)

Anyone who lives in a house does a certain amount of housekeeping. I do very little, but a certain amount.

There's a stigma attached to housework which accounts for why it's called "housekeeping." The people who don't do it try to make the people who do feel better by using a friendly name to describe it. If this were not true, it would be called "housecleaning."

In the fairly recent past, there has even been an effort to improve the sound of the word used for this chore by calling the people who do it "homemakers." No matter what you call it, it's dull work. I've been home a lot lately and inevitably have been pressed into some housework. The following things are true about housework:

-- Vacuuming a large rug is the easiest housekeeping job. Anyone doing it gets more credit than he or she deserves. This is partly because the vacuum cleaner makes so much noise it gives the illusion that someone's working hard.

-- Putting away the vacuum cleaner is harder than vacuuming.

-- Putting away almost anything is harder than washing or cleaning it. This is true of pots, pans and dishes.

-- The single easiest thing to do in exchange for the most credit, is mopping the kitchen floor. It sounds like a big deal but it isn't.

-- Forgetting to put the trash out by the curb on the day it's picked up is the single worst mistake a housekeeper can make.

-- No matter how many times it happens over the years, it's always a big surprise when a fuse blows, or a circuit breaker breaks.

-- There are parts of a stove where grease collects that I don't want to know about.

-- No soap, detergent, scouring pad, brush or grease-remover that claims to make cleaning easy makes cleaning easy. It's hard no matter what you use.

-- An easy way to get out of housework is to go get something at the store.

-- Certainly, there's someone somewhere in the world smart enough to make an automatic bedmaker. I can't actually design it myself, but I have the outline of it in my head. It's a tubular aluminum frame that's fixed to the ceiling above the bed, except when it's lowered to do its job. It rolls the sheets and blankets onto a wide drum, smoothes them out and then lays them on the bed. I haven't quite worked out how it tucks the blankets in or fluffs up the pillows.

-- A lot of pictures that get hung in a house just stay there, year after year, long after anyone is interested in looking at them.

-- Whenever I iron something, I think of my mother. Every time she ironed, she said, "I enjoy doing a little of it." I realize now that what she was really saying was, "I hate to do a lot of it."

Ironing a pair of men's pants is the hardest for me. The pant legs never fold exactly in half, so you can just lay them flat and run over them with the iron. I invariably end up with at least two creases in each leg.

Shirts would be easier to iron if it weren't for having to steer the iron around the buttons. My dress shirts go out to the laundry, but since I found out it costs about a dollar to have each one washed, I'm more careful about wearing them. If I put on a clean shirt and go out to dinner, I wear the same shirt again the next day.

-- If you've ever simply soaked dishes in the sink with dishwasher detergent, you realize that it's dynamite. It does more to wash the dishes than the dishwasher does.

-- The dryer is a satisfactory piece of equipment to use. I turn the heat to low when I dry my underwear because of the elastic in the waistband.

After I finish inventing the bed maker, maybe I'll invent a robot housekeeper. When I come home from work, it will say, "Is that you, Dear?"

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