Household Cleaning Tips from Chuck Palahniuk

It’s not every day that you turn to a novel for household cleaning tips. Maybe you look at a periodical like Good Housekeeping or you flip through a nonfiction reference book.

But then again, it’s not every day that your home turns into a crime scene.

Luckily, crime is a rarity in the exclusive confines of Slushpile’s neighborhood. But recently, on a gray and rainy afternoon, there was a pounding on door of my back porch. Standing there, dazed but upright, was a man bleeding from his head and begging to come inside. He was, evidently, a landscaper working next door who had been assaulted.

I called 911 and the local constabulary arrived and whisked him away in an ambulance. But after all the hubbub died down, I was left wondering, “How in the hell am I supposed to clean up all this blood?” The poor soul had dripped and leaked all over the place.

So I picked up my copy of Survivor: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk. This 1999 novel was the second offering from Palahniuk, following up on the heels of Fight Club. In the book, the narrator is the lone remaining member of a death cult, valued for their skills at domestic servitude. Early in the novel, the narrator explains that the most effective technique for removing bloodstains from a fur coat is “cornmeal and brushing the fur the wrong way.” To get blood off piano keys, you should “polish them with talcum powder or powdered milk.”

Unfortunately, Survivor didn’t have any advice for removing blood from a wooden floor that already needed repainting. But the narrator does explain that you should “just concentrate on the stain until your memory is completely erased.”

So I got out my rubber gloves, my scrubber, and a heavy dose of bleach, and set to work, concentrating mightily, thankful for the household tips. Forget Heloise, we bookish folks have Chuck Palahniuk.

(PS: The photo is where the victim passed by very, very briefly. The real gore was in another location. Just imagine a Rob Zombie film and you’ll get the image.)

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