I've received a lot of unsolicited advice on the PU lately but tonight I am compelled to solicit some. The reason couldn't be more insignificant but I'm at a loss here.
I love our cleaning person Leticia; she cleans the undercarriage of our toaster oven and thinks it's funny when Vito tries to hump her vacuum cleaner. Not to mention, her Monday morning visits have kept us from living in utter squalor. She and her Brazilian cohorts have been cleaning our house since one of Caroline's chocolate Munchkins rolled into a tumbleweed of dog hair two years ago.
While she doesn’t speak a shred of English, we've developed an unspoken rapport; she waves, I wave, it's cordial. A few weeks ago, she started bringing her husband along to help her out. This way, she can work faster and perhaps squeeze in a few more cleaning jobs while she’s at it. (I guess. Again, we don't speak.)
Since I work mornings, I usually flee the premises on cleaning days while my sitter/magician brings the kids to the park. Also, Paulie is frightened of the vacuum. Last week, I ran back into the house because I’d forgotten my sunglasses -- and for some reason, it was steamier than a power yoga studio in there. Leticia's husband, who’d just started vacuuming Caroline’s room, was already drenched in sweat. He waved, I waved. Then I headed off to Panera for a few hours.
When I returned home, the house didn’t smell like lemons and vinegar. There was something offensive, almost menacing wafting about and it only got stronger as I walked upstairs. Ground Zero was definitely Caroline’s room, the scene of the sweaty vacuuming. Also, it was still burning hot. I checked the thermostat and found that the heat had been turned up to 90 degrees ( I later learned that cleaning folk often do this to help the floors dry faster).
Here, we were dealing with straight-up, unadulterated BO and man, it was pungent. An entire bottle of Febreze and some PetFresh carpet cleaner were no match. I opened the windows a crack to get some fresh air flowing – the usual repertoire. We’re no strangers to larger-than-life stench here. Caroline used to hide her soiled Pull-Ups in desk drawers and elsewhere around the house. But in those situations, you just follow your nose, remove the offending diaper and thus the stink. This was an entirely different animal, it was neither contained nor concrete; it was suffusive.
Hours later, it finally dissipated.
This week, I played charades with Leticia upstairs, turning the thermostat down while fanning myself with a tissue letting her know it was too hot. She got it. I waved, she waved and I thought: problem solved. Nope. This week, it was actually worse. How do you communicate this? Six years of French and Latin are completely useless. I only know how to swear in Portugese: “Caralho!” the Brazilian’s equivalent of “Balls!” (literally translated: cock. Two different things, whole nutha blog).
There is no diplomatic way to inform someone you like that their husband is stinking up your house. At least for me. I’d rather die. The guilt would chip away at me (the nuns got to me early). I know Jimmy would have no problem dismissing them without explanation but I’d feel like a giant bag of dirt for far longer than I’d care to admit. Damn you, Sister Jeremiah.