I was helping clean up the kitchen after Wednesday night dinner at church when some soup spilled on the floor. The kitchen was pretty crowded with not much bending room, so I threw a rag on the floor and swished it around with my foot. A lady a few years older than I stopped what she was doing and stared.
"My mother would be horrified if she saw this," I said.
"So would mine," she replied.
As I continued with my footwork, she continued to stare.
"You're horrified, too, aren't you?" I asked.
"Actually, I am," she said.
Well, I know I'd never have done that in front of my mother. Anytime she ever saw me take any shortcuts or use any newfangled ways of doing things she would admonish me with "They don't do that in the old country" as if what her Slavic peasant ancestors did in the 1800s should set the standard for 20th century living in America. I guess this lady must have had similar upbringing.
But then, it wasn't just my mother. I thought back to this old Ma and Pa Kettle movie I saw when I was little. Ma and Pa Kettle were kind of country, as I recall, and they had 15 kids. In one scene they were cleaning house and one of the kids tied scrub brushes onto his feet to clean the floor. The audience laughed, of course, but it was this kind of laugh that let on that everyone knew this kid was doing something naughty and was going to get into big trouble. It seems, as I recall, Ma Kettle did bop him on the head with a broom or something causing the audience to howl once more seeing that the kid got what was coming to him.
Anyway, I'd totally forgotten about the church incident until a few months later when I was shopping at Assi Plaza on Pleasant Hill Road. What I love just as much as all the fresh produce are the little Asian shops that line the walls. As I was browsing, I spotted some slippers with Chinese characters and little cartoon pigs all over them. At first I thought they were just the kind of slippers that Asians wear in the house. But a closer look revealed mops sewn onto the soles. Too cute, I thought. But then I wondered, are these an ancient cleaning tool that the Chinese brought over from the "old country" or are they some newfangled invention?
It didn't matter. I had to buy a pair. Later that day as I was skating around the entryway mopping up dust and cat hair off the hardwood, my husband commented on how cool he thought they were.
But being an engineer he saw room for improvement and added that they should have pointed toes so I could get the spiders out of the corners while I was at it.
My mother would be horrified.
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.