Oscar Madison or Felix Unger?
Monday, September 29, 2008
Come with me, back to first grade in Burlington Elementary School, to Hazel Fromong's class.
There, in the front row, sits Ad Hudler, his back straight, his hands folded in his lap as he awaits instruction for the day. His hair is parted perfectly down the left side, all of it pasted into place with Ogilvie hair gel that dries like Dippity Doo, leaving his hair stiff and bouncy to the touch. His top button, as always, is buttoned up tight.
At some point in the day he will excuse himself to go the bathroom where he will wipe off with wet paper towels any chalk dust or pencil smudges that might have sullied his appearance. Indeed, his mother once told him, "You are the only child in the world who comes home from school looking better than when he left that morning."
Later, in the afternoon, Ad will finish his homework earlier than his peers (except Scott Winfrey, who would end up getting an appointment to the Naval Academy), and he will walk up to his teacher's desk and say, "Mrs. Fromong, as you can see I am all finished with my homework. Now, let me help you clean up this messy desk of yours."
Next: Fast-forward ten years to Abel Hall, room 814, at the University of Nebraska. The floor of Ad's small domicile is entirely hidden by pizza crusts and empty soda cans, newspapers and magazines, dirty underwear and socks and shirts, and half-eaten, once-frozen-but-now-fossilized burritos. And the R.A. has had to bring in an exterminator to set traps because Ad has created a Ritz-Carlton for rodents.
Next: Fast-forward to age 36. Ad's wife, Carol, is getting home from work, late, close to 9 o'clock. He has already served dinner, frozen the leftovers, and cleaned the kitchen. He wants to say this: "The kitchen is closed!" But he bites his tongue and watches as Carol scavenges through the refrigerator, deciding on a quesadilla and some grapes, and Ad is hoping (praying, actually) that she uses a much-cleaner knife than a messy grater to cut the cheese.
"Is there something wrong?" she asks him.
"You're following me around with a rag and Windex bottle."
"Well, I've just cleaned this kitchen, and I hate waking up to a kitchen that's not really clean."
So you see: I am schizophrenic in the neat-freak department. I keep my bedroom picked up, but I don't make the bed. My kitchen is tidy, but my truck is messy, and I wash it once a year whether it needs it or not.
I own a t-shirt that says "Does Anal-retentive have a hyphen?" But it is sullied with permanent grease and paint stains.
Neat freak? Control freak?
You tell me.
BOOK TOUR NEWS: Nice mention of "Man of the House" in yesterday's Required Reading column of The New York Post. Today, I go on the morning show of WINK-TV in Fort Myers. And on Wednesday, I take off for Jacksonville, FL and Georgia. By the end of today, you'll be able to see my tour schedule (I only included events open to the public) on my "speaking engagement" page at AdHudler.com