On your mark

Anyone keen to do the dirty on domestic disasters? Share your stories by commenting.

I want to talk today about great moments in stain, because I witnessed one recently.

Not the metaphorical type of stain you associate with airy-fairy things like democracy, parliament and Peter Slipper.

That’s better characterised as ‘‘dirt’’, and pretty hard to sweep under the carpet if you’re the Labor Party.

Or the Liberal Party.

Or their staffers.

The stains I’m talking about occur on top of carpets and are nearly impossible to erase.

Not only from the floor but from the memory.

Stains like the one I encountered at a gathering the other day.

We were chatting, the host was offering nibblies in the lounge room.

For some reason the olives shifted on the tray.

The host over-corrected and the olives spilled to the floor.

Not a total disaster.


That came next with the pumpkin-tumeric-indelible ink dip.

In an effort to save the olives, the host re-corrected with the tray, and the dip flipped off.

In slow motion, it seemed.

Exploding onto the light cream carpet below, like napalm.

Exacting a similar impact on the decor, and social scene.

It’s hard to keep chatting when your host falls to hands and knees with Chux and water and starts rubbing frantically – what experts call ‘‘consolidating the mess’’.

And fair enough, I’d be doing the same.

The dip wasn’t made of indelible ink, of course.

It was something harder to get out.

Possibly beetroot.

And unfortunately, that mark will probably be there until they rip up the carpet.

Which probably won’t be that far away seeing as our host had rubbed her way through to the floorboards by the time we left.

As you do.

All in vain, of course.

Stain equals pain.

I sympathise with the over-balance, too.

Wacky trays are hard to contain once off-kilter.

I remember working as a waiter at an Italian debutante ball back in the day, and spilling a full decanter of red wine down the back of one not-too pleased signorina.

It began with a feeling something wasn’t quite right in quadrant 13, where I was cradling the tray with the vino, Manuel-style.

It ended with concerns Tony Soprano may want a chat after work.


Let me say this, forgiveness is a great human quality, and it flows abundantly in the Italian community.

Stains are less forgiving.

I recall, many years later, a cup of coffee being spilt in our front room about one minute into a ‘‘meet and greet’’ with new neighbours.

That’d be about two minutes after we’d frantically finished getting the room presentable.

It was their child that did the spilling, so it was a smile and wave scenario for us.

But we’ll never forget it because the coffee autograph is there to this day, despite our best efforts to excavate it with salt, chemicals and the voodoo claims of a string of carpet steam cleaners.

As a man, I respect ‘‘wet and forget’’ as an approach to domestic duties.

But these steam cleaners should just come clean, so to speak, and admit some stuff don’t ever come out.

Until, that is, you start talking great moments in stain.

Then it all tends to come out.

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