Mary Marcus: The phantom housekeeper

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I have quite a few single friends both male and female. Without exception every female talks about the concept of “the one” after every promising date. As in “maybe he’s the one.” Or, “I’m not going to see him anymore; he’s not the one.” None of the males speak in this way. I believe the concept of “the one” is related to the Knight in Shining Armor, the big Daddy who is going to save the day with his love. Maybe because I made it a habit from early on to listen to the conversations of my brother and his friends, I am not so idealistic. And I have never dreamed about the perfect guy, the one who would send me roses, read serious books, remember all significant events in our relationship, though I have to say I have always yearned to have a relationship with a man who wears a beautiful cashmere topcoat.

Obviously this phantom doesn’t live in Los Angeles, because it’s not cold enough here to justify owning a topcoat. Like getting to walk to a museum, it just isn’t going to happen to me here.

I do have one long-term fantasy. And that’s of the perfect housekeeper.

She’s a very clean Buddhist woman who has taken a vow of silence. Once upon a time, she was quite rich and saw the inherent inequity of her life and joined this Ashram where her dharma is to clean and be silent. (This is a crucial part of the fantasy because she can leave her life as a maid at any time and go back to her trust fund and her former wasteful existence).

She comes on Saturday. When she turns her key in the lock, Henry jumps off the couch and wags his tail and doesn’t bark and have a shit fit. He’s so glad to see her he goes downstairs to greet her warmly and quietly in person. He rubs up against her leg and licks her clean feet in their shiny Birkenstocks. She has long thin unpolished toes and the nails are always perfectly clipped. Before she has come to the house, she has stopped by the farmers market on Arizona in Santa Monica, early, when the chefs get there, and she’s picked out the best stuff they’ve got. She knows which stands have the good apples, the sweetest berries, the most outstanding carrots, and the spiciest radishes. And so on. She carefully places these perishables in her three-tiered cart so they don’t get damaged.

She drives some sort of impeccable little van, or someone from the ashram where she lives waits for her and they slide my fruit and vegetables in.

When she arrives at the house, we greet each other, my perfect housekeeper and I with a formal nod of the head and a long slow Namaste. She keeps her clean shining head bowed for a long time. We smile at each other then. I am her favorite client, and she looks forward to cleaning my house.

Now that she’s in residence for the morning, Henry is so pleased he is sort of moaning in terrier pleasure (only if you have a terrier can you recognize this slight opening of the jaw, the pleasurable thing that emits from the back of the throat.)

I nod and head out the door to yoga to the class I never get to go to because I’m always in reality at the farmers market early on Saturday morning when the chefs get there, so I can get the good stuff.

The class is great. Afterward, I stroll out with my bag and stop for a cappuccino with one of my yoga friends. Then I go to the beauty supply place and do things like buy lipstick and hair conditioner at my leisure.

When I get home, the house is clean and sparkling and smells of non-toxic cleaners and white vinegar. My husband has returned from the gym (another fantasy; my husband refuses to exercise). He says, “she never moves my stuff; I love the way she makes the bed with those tight hospital corners.” And so on. I smile at him serenely.

The lettuces are washed, the carrots and berries are, too, and everything is put away in tidy little bundles. My paragon of a housekeeper has even had time to walk Henry, who is all tuckered out on the couch from having been run by a tireless Buddhist with a serious dharma.

She’s not quite done, this perfectionist, and Henry is passed out in the room I work in. My husband and I decide to go out to lunch, and we have sushi down the street before the crowds hit. We have hand-rolled salmon skin, yellowtail, spicy tuna, and many other wonderful dishes, and I order the salad with sprouts and the special dressing they make.

She’s gone by the time we get home, my marvelous housekeeper, leaving a lingering smell of lemons. She’s left me a note, in her perfect script.

Dream on! I don’t exist! I am a figment of your ridiculous imagination. Can’t you think of better things to do with your time than creating a wish-fulfilling slave to answer all your needs. Grow up!

And of course, she would be right.

Mary Marcus

Mary Marcus is the author of The New Me. Her next book, Lavina, will be published later this year. 

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On January 23, 2015
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