Ed. Note: The Gold Digger is back. This time she will help us with that pesky warm hospitality/charming decorating conundrum: What does the perfect hostess put into the guest room to welcome family and friends?
When I was a Peace Corps volunteer and couldn't afford anything - except a cleaning lady once a week, but before you laugh and judge me, know that it was cheaper to have someone clean my house and wash my clothes by hand than it was to take my clothes to the laundromat, although when you factor in how quickly clothes are ruined by being scrubbed on a pine board, maybe the laundromat would have been a better long-term option, I vowed that once I had a real money job again, I would do three things:
1. Have a cleaning lady - which I already had, but she was an awful cleaning lady. I would get someone who actually cleaned my house and of whose personal life I knew nothing so I wouldn't have to feel bad about firing her if she did a crummy job. How can you fire someone who is the sole support of her widowed, ailing mother? You can't. You continue to pay her $10 a week (which was four times the market rate) and then clean your house yourself. Or take off your glasses when you are inside so you can't see the dirt.
2. Get new underwear every year.
3. Have fresh flowers in the house all the time.
I did all three things for a while. When I finally got my post-Peace Corps job, which took a while because apparently, corporate employers think Peace Corps volunteers come to work in Tevas and dreadlocks, I got a cleaning lady who came once every three weeks.
She cost a lot more than ten dollars.
I threw away all my old underwear, which seemed horribly wasteful, but I reminded myself that I was preventing possible humiliation should I be in a car accident.
And I started buying flowers.
Then I got married and I became the cleaning lady. At first, my husband got flowers. Now, alas, he does not. But I try to keep flowers in the house. When we have houseguests, I put flowers in the guest bath and bedroom. Usually, that's easy: I just cut something from my garden. Shockingly, we don't get many houseguests in the winter, so the lack of garden flowers is not an issue. Why don't people want to come to Milwaukee in January?
But I've always thought flowers for guests - in addition to a few bottles of water and some snacks, usually a bowl of chocolate from the Chocolate Drawer - are a nice touch.
So I was very pleased a few years ago when my husband and I visited his parents and discovered flowers in the guest room. They were from the hisbiscus bush in the front yard, but that's OK. They were pretty and, more importantly, showed that perhaps my husband's mother had begun to change her attitude about me since the initial, "We're not coming to the wedding and you better not marry her" hissy fit.
I was pleased. She was finally coming around. I was not the monster she thought I was. She was admitting she was wrong about me! No words, but a gesture suffices.
I left the bedroom and found her. "Thank you for the flowers!" I said. "They are lovely."
She looked confused. "What flowers?"
"In the bedroom. On the dresser."
"Oh!" she said. "The cleaning lady must have left those."
At least the cleaning lady liked me.
Ed. Note: If you, like moi meme cannot get enough of my friend, let's call her Melissa or Miranda -- something like that -- do visit her at one or both of her blogs: The Diary of A Gold Digger or the other one.