The Rockwood Files: Are you wearing visitor goggles?

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

This column isn’t about beer goggles, but let’s start there. Just in case you’ve never worn them or heard the term, here’s a quick definition. “Beer goggles” refers to the way people and sometimes ideas look more attractive when you’ve been drinking as opposed to how they look when your brain is working.

As a person who prefers Chick-fil-a tea over beer any day, I don’t know much about beer goggles. But I’m fast becoming an expert at wearing “visitor goggles.”

The experience of wearing visitor goggles happens when a big group of friends or relatives is about to come to your house for a holiday – like Thanksgiving. Suddenly everything looks different when you begin to see it as you imagine your houseguests might see it. And unlike with beer goggles, the view isn’t pretty. In fact, almost everything you see needs some work.

How did this happen? It’s simple. About two weeks after we got our second vaccination in April, we felt almost drunk on the new level of freedom. We could finally begin to get back to some form of “normal.” So we called and texted and invited our vaccinated extended family to come to Thanksgiving at our house. And when the yeses came in, we had a total of 17 people. But then the nervous part of my brain started talking.

Nervous brain: What have you done? There are going to be 17 people at your house for Thanksgiving. And 17 is close to 20! And that’s a lot of people who’ll be expecting a clean house and great food. Are you Martha Stewart or even Martha’s reasonably skilled third cousin? No, you are not.

Me: Okay, just calm down. It’s not like we’ve never done this before. Sure, it has been a while since we hosted anything, but we can figure it out, right?

Nervous brain: Not only has it been a while, but your brain has atrophied during all the time spent in your Covid cave. I’m not even sure we remember which side of the plate to put the bread knife. And have you looked around this place?

Me: What do you mean? It looks okay, doesn’t it? Wait a second… Now that I think about it, those baseboards are pretty nicked up. That wall in the bathroom could use a fresh coat of paint. And the drawer liners need to be redone. And I still can’t get the hard water spots off the glass shower door.

Nervous brain: See? I told you so. This place is literally crumbling. You just didn’t notice it during the Pandemic Pause because people never came over anymore. You were busy buying toilet paper, binging Netflix and wiping down groceries with a Clorox wipe.

Me (now wearing visitor goggles): Good Lord, you’re right! The windows need to be cleaned inside and out. We’ve got to schedule a painter for that scuffed-up wall. Is there enough time to redo the baseboards? No? Okay, but the pantry needs to be reorganized, and the deck needs to be pressure washed, and…

Nervous brain: And you’ve got to get a bed skirt on that mattress in the guest room. It can’t just lie around like a floozy with no skirt on. What will people think?

Me: And what about new pillows? Given the germy trauma we’ve all been through this past year, shouldn’t pillows be sanitized for their protection? Oh, I’ve been a fool. I thought our house was reasonably clean, but this all looks terrible now.

Nervous brain: There’s clean and then there’s “company clean.” Those are vastly different levels of clean. I mean, have you seen your garage lately?

Me: Argh! The garage! It’s where we put all the stuff that we don’t know what else to do with! And with these goggles on, I now notice there are roughly two million spiderwebs in here. What if the spiders attack our relatives? What if they creep in the kitchen and steal the turkey?

Nervous brain: Finally, you’re having the appropriate level of anxiety. It’s a good thing I loaned you those goggles.

Me: Shut up and pass me that bottle of Windex.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of Her book is available on Amazon.