I used to think that when the house got too dirty, my husband would take one look at it and decide that instead of cleaning it himself, now was the perfect time to royally piss me off.
Because boy can I clean in a rage.
As my temper explodes like Mount Vesuvius, violently spewing forth a deadly cloud of super-heated gases high into the sky, ejecting molten rock, pulverized pumice and hot ash at 1.5 million tons per second, the tiniest thing out of place becomes a target.
I clean the kitchen with loud determination. I wipe surfaces clean of dust with forceful intent. I aggressively vacuum carpets to within an inch of their lives.
I deposit trash by the front door with a fury and purpose that would make Lyssa, the ancient Greek goddess for mad rage, envious.
The house becomes a scene from a disaster movie, with children and spouses running barely ahead of the impending doom, squealing in terror and picking up favourite toys and clothes before they’re sucked into the cleaning tornado never to be seen again.
And oh the humanity, the socks. ?
Balled up in the couch. Shoved into bookshelves. Left on top of shoes. Lounging casually on stairs. Reposing under the kitchen table. Thrown over the armrest of the easy chair. And very rarely in pairs, like they were never meant to have mates.
I think a messy kitchen and dishes left all over the house are my biggest triggers these days.
That, and stepping on Legos. There’s nothing like a Lego underfoot to make the rage travel instantly from that pointy sonofabitch up your body until the top of you head blows off like a cartoon.
What about you? What makes you scrub the house like the whole damn thing needs to be sent to its room and think about what it did?
Approach at your own risk
Most women who enter a state of rage cleaning are aggressive and unpredictable.
They are commonly found after coming home to a messy house after a long day at work, on the weekends or just before houseguests are due to arrive.
They tend to react violently when you approach them, especially if you make even the tiniest mess or move the most insignificant of items out of place in the house that is currently being exorcised of the Demons of Disorder.
Some wild animals should not be approached by anyone at any time, and this is true for rage cleaning women as well. If you must approach, it is best to go about this endeavour as you would go about approaching a highly territorial wild animal.
Begin by observing from a safe distance
The rage cleaning woman will show specific signs that will tell you how furious she is.
Look for signs of deep agitation, such as an angry scowl on her forehead and grunting. If an eye is twitching or she’s exhibiting signs of perspiration, she is fast approaching a point of no return, and contact is not advised.
Hissing and growling are clear signs that you will only incur personal damage should you choose to gain her attention.
Retreat immediately if you hear her uttering rhetorical questions, such as “Why do we even have trash bins?”, “Am I the only one who does the laundry in this house?”, “Where is that smell coming from?” or “Who. The. Hell. Left. The. Sponge. In. The. Sink? Again?!”.
If you approach at this point, the blame for all these transgressions will land solely on your shoulders.
Always be aware of aggravating factors
If she has not eaten, is especially tired, has not slept well or enough, is in a foul mood to begin with (potentially due to others dwelling in the same house and/or extended family or friends), or is in pain, take extra caution.
Preparing her favourite food or drink and having it on hand for when she finishes and finally descends from her storm state will make you her favourite person. You can try to offer it before, but it may do you no good.
Let your presence be known – but make no sudden movements
If she’s listening to music, you’ll need to get the volume down so she can hear you.
If she’s listening to it over speakers, turn it down slightly, just enough to notice that it’s gone down a fraction.
If she’s using headphones or earbuds, you’ll have to stand in her periphery and catch her attention with your persistent but still presence.
It is imperative that you don’t startle or scare her because she may react defensively and attack. Move slowly, remain calm, use a soothing voice and be aware of your potential escape routes.
Whatever you do, never turn the music down to a bare whisper or pull off her headphones: this will result in a Category 5 shitstorm of epic proportions.
Apologise profusely for your existence
Once you succeed in getting her attention from a safe distance, begin pleading for forgiveness. Show her your palms to demonstrate that you come without weapons and mean her no harm.
Getting down on your hands and knees will make you appear less threatening and significantly less annoying. Though this may make it more difficult for you to escape if she decides to attack.
Show her you come in peace by mimicking her behaviour
It’s been suggested that you should mimic the behaviour of wild animals if you wish to approach them. If an animal is eating grass, you can pretend to eat the same grass to show that you aren’t a threat.
A similar strategy can be adopted when approaching the rage cleaning woman. Picking up clutter as you go, putting items back in their designated places, straightening books in a shelf or holding a trash bag as if you’re on your way to take it out, may give you more success in your approach.
According to unscientific but totally accurate studies, rage cleaning mothers are more unlikely to attack a person doing chores (vacuuming, dishes, laundry etc.).
Be on your best behaviour
Use the word “please” profusely and refrain from smart-assery to reduce the risk of furious, expletive-filled responses.
Also, never question the cleaning. Asking “Why is the floor so sticky?” while the floor is still wet from her mopping; this will only enrage her further.
The same goes for asking why something she’s currently cleaning is as dirty as it is. She’ll just blame you for not acting on it sooner.
Avoid direct eye contact
This is critical: never stare down a rage cleaning woman.
Direct eye contact can easily be misread as dominant behaviour or some kind of challenge, and she’ll gear up for a confrontation.
If you think the rage cleaning woman incapable of fighting while cleaning, you’re sorely mistaken. The argument will only fuel her righteous purging and you’ll get a dressing down as you’ve never had before and admit yourself guilty of things you never did.
Even worse; prolonged, direct eye contact may result in a barrage of accusatory questions such as “What is so difficult about rinsing off your own dish and putting it in the dishwasher?”, “Why does everyone in this house insist on leaving their clothes on the floor?” or “Do any of the boys in this house know how to aim?!”.
Be ready to retreat at all times
If the rage cleaning woman begins to shout at you, talking through clenched teeth or staring at you in seething silence, slowly back away while you still can.
Do. Not. Run.
She may interpret that as an invitation to grab hold of you, faster than a monkey swiping a banana from an unwitting tourist at a temple in India, and detain you for questioning.
If you use caution as you retreat, maybe even ask if there’s something you can do to help, you should be able to escape without incident.
The only time you should make yourself scarce like a genie popping back into the bottle, is when she shouts at you to do so.
You must always be prepared to walk away from an encounter with a rage cleaning woman without having achieved what you wanted to.
Since she is incredibly temperamental, prone to explosive outbursts and allowing her to realise that you’ve interrupted her, solely in order to ask where something is or for her to do something for you, can be a fatal mistake.
If there is no approaching her, all you can do is wait. Eventually, her mood will mellow and you can go and – again – apologise for your existence and any wrongdoing you may or may not have been party to.
Since your house will be spotless, remember to thank her and do something nice for her.