By: Mary Fran Bontempo
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The boy bought Q-tips.

Heading to Bucks County on a recent trip home from the shore, my husband issued a warning: “You’d better grab some Q-tips. We’re out at home.”

By way of background, I’m obsessive about my Q-tips. Every morning, I take two out of the drawer in the bathroom sink and lay them on the counter. One is for my ears and one is for cleaning up stray smudges of mascara after I put on my makeup. On more than one occasion, my husband has swiped one of my Q-tips, sending me into a momentary panic until I retrieve another. A supply of Q-tips is essential to my mental health first thing in the morning.

When Dave told me we were out of Q-tips, I simply assumed it was a microcosm of what would greet me when I returned to home from the shore. My husband and son spend much of the summer at our house in Bucks County, while I move to the shore to be with my daughters while they work summer jobs. (All right, that’s just an excuse, as they’re perfectly able to take care of themselves. But it’s a good excuse and I intend to use it until they move away from home.)

At any rate, in years past, our “real” house, after a summer under the direct supervision of two men, all but screamed at me upon my return home. “For the love of God, woman, what were you thinking leaving me like this?! You should see what’s gone on in here! Help me; I beg you!” I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that getting things back to normal involved copious amounts of bleach, boiling water and at least four trips to the store to replenish supplies.

So, I grabbed a handful of Q-tips and prepared for the worst. But then I opened the bathroom drawer and found myself squarely in the Bizzarro World.

“Dave, I thought you said we were out of Q-tips? The drawer is full,” I said.

“We were out,” he responded.

“Oh, I saw that we were out and I bought some,” my son, David, called from the hallway.

“What?” I said.

“Yeah. I bought some. I also cleaned the bathrooms and emptied out the fridge because there was some left over stuff that was bad in there,” he added.

This is the boy who didn’t change his sheets for four years in college. Once he returned home, he would keep Big Gulp cups in his room for so long that they would start to smell, at which point he would throw them out of his bedroom window instead of walking them downstairs. He dressed each day by fishing through the huge ball of clothing wadded up on his floor and yanking something out of the middle.

And now he was cleaning. Remember when that crazy guy said the Apocalypse was coming in May? Obviously he miscalculated. But if my son is cleaning and buying Q-tips to replenish the household supply, clearly, the Apocalypse is now. Either that, or he’s growing up.

David continued, “I didn’t want you to come home and have to spend your time cleaning, Mom. I know it’s not the way you do it but I hope it’s okay.”

It’s more than okay. And if this is the Apocalypse, well, at least I’ll have a clean house.

Share your tales of “man-cleaning” below!