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Woman vs. shower: The final crusade

June 10, 2012
By KELLY VAN DE WALLE ( , Times-Republican

The Crusades were a terrible and bloody series of wars that lasted for hundreds of years. So it makes complete sense that my wife compares them to her battle with shower mildew. The only difference I can see so far is that the Crusades were far more peaceful and were resolved much quicker than this ever will be.

For the last few weeks she's worked tirelessly, frantically scrubbing like she's trying to get a blood stain out of trunk carpet before the cops arrive, while I shout encouraging things like, "Oh, you're getting it!" and "Looks great!" and "I'm hungry!" from the couch.

The truth is, I can't even see where the mildew in question is. In all honesty, I'm not even convinced mildew is an actual thing.

I think it's a fake problem made up by shower conglomerates to sell more product. It wouldn't surprise me if Big Shower took a page out of pharmaceutical companies' playbook in creating the illusion of non-existent diseases in order to profit from supposed remedies.

"Hey does your left knee sometimes itch? Do you yawn at times? Does your stomach occasionally rumble if you haven't eaten in eight hours? Solve these and other assorted maladies you think you have with Ploxiblipinol!"

"What do you MEAN you can't see it?" she'll exclaim. "It's thereright THERE!"

"You know," I say after a minute of intense staring at the nothingness at which she's pointing, "most people have invisible friends, not germs."

This earns me a fun glare, but I press on because the best way to get out of a hole is to keep digging until you fall upside down into China.

"Look, everything in here is clean because of all the water and soap particles," I say, scientifically. "So unless dirt gnomes sneak in here at night and use tiny spades to smear germy grime everywhere I don't know were this stuff even could even come from."

Her lack of reply makes me think it's something she can't rule out and I fear she'll want me to set gnome traps.

"I can't give up, " she says with a look of the determined/psychotic. "This is my crusade."

As of this writing I fear she has spent so much money on mildew elimination products that at this point it would've been cheaper to just get a new wall. Or move.

I exit the bathroom after another failed attempt to see this mysterious "mildew" and glance at our elderly neighbor out the window who's watering her flowers. My wife approaches, arms clad with a giant bucket and an assortment of cleaning implements. If our neighbor caught this sequence of events it would appear as though one of two scenarios were occurring:

1) The bathroom needs such serious attention immediately after I exited because of something I did.

2) We were disposing of ? or potentially cooking ? methamphetamine.

"It's okay!" I open the front door and shout. "It's not because of me!"

She looks up, slowly.

"What I mean, is, I didn't do anything overly disgusting in there!" I clarify, pointing to the bathroom.

My wife comes rushing over, staring at me wide-eyed.

"Oh, and we're not making meth or anything either!" I quickly add.

I give my wife a thumbs-up. We're good.

My wife doesn't ask for my help in her war, knowing full well that whenever I'm tasked with cleaning the bathroom I manage to do it with a single paper towel and the first spray bottle I come across under the sink (Windex, 409, oven cleaner, vegetable oil, etc.). She often gets so jealous she starts criticizing my work.

"Did you just try and clean the entire bathroom with a bottle of and half a paper towel?" The Grumpy Foreman asked, astonished.

"Well, normally I use an entire paper towel but I accidentally ripped the last one," I replied, proudly. "It took some doing, I mean I really had to fold it a couple of times, but I managed. Only took me 43 seconds this time, too. A new record."

"That's unacceptable," she said, not respecting the record. "You can't clean the bathroom like that!"

"I beg to differ. I guess that's one reason women make less than men," I say, nonchalantly. "We're so efficient."

I knew after all her hard work fighting invisible mildew that she would gain such satisfaction when she finally emerged victorious. All of her hard work would be worth it. I mean, we'd be homeless, my wife spending our life savings on invisible dot removal, but the new owners would be very pleased. Yes, this was one chore she would conquer and tell her grandchildren about.

So I fixed it for her.

"How did you get it?" she asked, befuddled.

"Oh, I just used some of your stuff," I said. "I'm sure you did most of the work."

I don't have the heart to tell her I just covered it up with White-Out.


Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications ( He can be reached at or via carpet stain.



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