The Cleanest Radiator in Scarborough: One Woman’s Journey to Domestic Functionality


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It first occurred to me while sitting on the toilet at my partner’s grandmother’s house. In front of her toilet was on old radiator, and around the bottom of the radiator, where the metal met the linoleum floor, was spotless. All of it. Even towards the back, near the wall, which to clean would have been at best dreadfully inconvenient and most likely fucking impossible. This immediately brought to mind images of my own bathroom at home, which by comparison was a biohazard. The garbage hadn’t been changed in two weeks, and it was full of empty toilet paper rolls that should have been the recycling anyway. The sink was coated in a fine but ever so visible layer of soap scum made even more appealing by the fact that the soap in question was of a patchouli-lavender-organic castor oil-variety and therefore left a scum of a disturbing brown colour, peppered with pieces of some desiccated flower petal. It was this stark contrast that caused me to realize that I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing, domestically speaking.

I know this isn’t my job. In fact I so know that this isn’t my job that Andrew often has to ask me if I wouldn’t mind doing a load of laundry since I haven’t done so in 3.75 months and have simply enjoyed the constant influx of clean underwear to my dresser drawer. This is not a matter of outdated obligation so much as it is a matter of being a godamned hypocrite.

Maybe. I think.

Because here’s the thing: this year as Christmas gifts I lovingly handcrafted approximately forty jars of various marmalades, chutneys, jams and relishes. I then even more lovingly adorned each one with tasteful and understated decorations before completing the package with a handwritten brown kraft paper gift tag. My original thought, of course had been to save money, being as brutally unemployed as I am. But you see, I had to have the best canning equipment, the most luxurious and delicious ingredients and the highest of quality adornments. All in all I’d be surprised if the whole thing saved me more than $25 dollars.

The point I’m trying to make is that I was very pleased with myself. I proclaimed myself to be a domestic goddess and may have even emailed a picture of myself, decked out in apron and canning tongs to a friend with the caption “one step closer to domestic goddesshood.” But now, I realized, still fixated upon the floor surrounding the bathroom radiator and contemplating my own bathroom at home, I was nothing of the sort.

There seems to have been a resurgence, at least among the twentysomething urban women whom I call my peers, of certain domestic skills. Everyone is knitting a scarf for their boyfriend. We’re all putting up preserves with names like “lavender scented meyer lemon chutney,” there’s a proliferation of sewing and knitting shops along Queen Street west all stocked with the finest in artisan wools and hand screenprinted fabric. We’re all making macarons by hand, despite their notorious finickiness and the fact that you can buy them at every godamned bakery in town.

But I bet not one of us can keep a radiator clean like that. Or cook a healthy affordable meal for five people. Every. Fucking. Day.

The cleanest radiator in Scarborough lodged itself in my brain and refuses to be expelled no matter how many rose water madeleines or loaves of no-knead bread I make. Because it’s not sexy or adorable to clean a radiator. You will not, for instance find a picture of Zooey Deschanel cleaning a radiator on Hello Giggles.

But I want to know how to do these things. And I want to write about all the feelings I’m having because fucking hell I’m a feminist goddamnit and I should be writing books not teaching myself how to properly hem a pair of pants.

But if I learned anything from the 90s it’s that I CAN HAVE IT ALL and have it I shall.

So stay tuned. And don’t worry. There will be pictures of jam and macarons too. And herein lies my dilemma.


One thought on “The Cleanest Radiator in Scarborough: One Woman’s Journey to Domestic Functionality

  1. argo al says:

    Quite the rant over a ‘rad’.! Although I appreciate your take on what is important in life related to keeping a clean home.

    Soo, Andrew cleans, launders, handiman’s, stitches, [cooks?], among many other talents… because he luvs you, & wants the best for you… or, he is greedy & wants to dominate the chores… or he has not given you the book on ‘equality’, sharing is beautiful.

    I think I know where you are going, we all have our fav things & disgust things… some choose to dwell more on the former, for happiness [which is extremely important, & sometimes necessary], while others like to keep the peace… hence, a Queen bee & her faithful workers.

    Courtney, Please don’t take this as a slant [none intended], its Saturday morn & I’m just musing.

    We go through life searching for & enjoying pleasures, never stop!

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