Well, to quote the end of the Ogden Nash poem "Just Keep Quiet and Nobody Will Notice" about this very topic:
I think there is one rule every host and hostess ought to keep…on a handy shelf,Which brings me to yesterday.
Which is, don’t spoil the denouement by telling guests everything is terrible, but let them have the thrill of finding it out for themself.
Earlier in the week I bought a whole chicken and roasted it in the oven. After I picked the meat off the bones, I boiled the bones and made chicken broth. Well, what does one do with nearly a quart of wonderfully flavorful chicken broth?
One makes soup, in this case Golden Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup, and then I remembered my best friend telling me how much she enjoys eating soup, and so I got the brainstorm idea to invite her over for lunch. Before I could talk myself out of it, I called her and invited her. Done deal.
And then what do you do? You panic.
The house is a wreck. So you apply yourself to wiping the grime off the appliances and the kitchen cupboards, you get as close to the kitchen floor as you are physically able (which involves sitting on a fold-up metal “church chair” because the knees aren’t cooperating very much these days) and scrub certain really nasty spots with a stiff wire brush. You sweep down a few noticeable cobwebs and dust a little, which ends up being a “lick and a promise” because you have gotten distracted by something else and fail to finish. Out comes the vacuum.
(Did I ever tell you the story of how I was sweeping the kitchen floor and saw something else that needed to be done and wandered off and about an hour later I came back to find the pile of debris still sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor?)
I had recently read the poem “Just Keep Quiet and Nobody Will Notice,” in my Pocket Book of Ogden Nash that I thought deserved a Post-it note for further review. Before my friend arrived, I read it again and reminded myself to keep my mouth shut if I happened to see something I should have taken care of but unfortunately missed…
Everything was fine until she arrived and said, “Can I use your bathroom.” And then I wished I could have dug a hole and crawled in, because although the inside of the toilet bowl was clean and I did sort of wipe down the sink the night before when I took my shower, the bathroom was really not very clean.
The soup was wonderful and the cornbread I made (from scratch) was good, which pleased me a great deal because frequently things I bake in the oven do not turn out very well. We had a lovely visit and we talked about the poem. She said she has told guests “don’t look in the corners…” as a way of apologizing when she thinks her house could be cleaner.
She is such a good friend and has been in my house many times, She has seen it when it was a total disaster… so I know she isn’t there to see my house.
Why do I put myself through this? Good question that deserves an answer. I don't know. I am thinking that it would be such a good idea to set aside some time each week to do routine cleaning instead of waiting until the condition of the house gets too bad. My track record of keeping New Year’s resolutions is terrible, but perhaps I can manage it for 2018.