Tell me, have you ever been in this situation?
There’s a car coming up the drive …
A quick peek reveals a guest arriving,
and your house is—let’s be honest—a mess.
socks on the stairway,
ongoing projects laid out hither and yon.
The scramble begins—grab and stash! Spritz lavender in the air. Break out a box of biscotti.
Within a minute and a half, your Potemkin village is perfect,
well—let’s be honest AGAIN—as perfect as it’s going to get.
Utter a hasty prayer that the closet door stays shut
and then fling open the door and declare,
“Welcome! You’re just in time for tea!”
You caught that, didn’t you?
Our word-of-the-week refers to a “pretentiously showy or imposing façade intended to mask or divert attention from an embarrassing or shabby fact or condition,” says Dictionary.com.
The term took root, according to legend, when Russian military leader Grigory Potemkin erected fake settlements, full of fanfare, in order to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787.
What an elaborate word for a common condition of humanity! It sort of makes the argument that your mess is honorable or something like that! Ha! Speaking of messes, I am reminded of the virtue of the Shaker way of simple living. For me, mess equals chaos and I am not very good when I spend a lot of time in chaos. When I see my house in some sort of state of mess, I am tempted to just get a shovel and trashcan and get rid of it all for good! Do you ever feel that way?
I hate clutter, not just for the look, although excess stuff does make me twitch, but because of the maintenance involved, too. There’s a big difference between where I live now (in the Dust Bowl, I swear) and the mountains I used to live in. My tea cup collection and open shelving used to get dusted, oh, once a quarter or so, but I can write proverbs in the dust on the book shelves here every day! I need glass to put everything behind and then I can just dust it…
And, I am soooo going to use “Potemkin” in a conversation as soon as possible. “Excuse me, please, while I Potemkin a bit.”
It gives it a whole new meaning to tidying up!!