Mr. Moffet opened the door and stepped outside to check the weather. It was cold enough for his warmer coat. Satisfied with the results of his research, he headed back inside. Unfortunately, he was in a hurry and neglected to wipe his feet on the way inside.
Mrs. Moffet had mopped the floor the night before. It was the last item on a long list of things to do to finally clean up after all the mess and cheer of the holidays. It wasn’t a pleasant task, but the floor looked great, and it was nice to finish off the list and start the new year with a clean house.
When Mrs. Moffet looked up from her bowl of cereal and saw the muddy footprints left in Mr. Moffet’s wake, she was unhappy. “Look at that. You’re messing up all my hard work.”
Mr. Moffet had no idea what Mrs. Moffet was talking about, but he was in a hurry. “Why do you always blame me for everything? I don’t have time for this. We can talk later.” He grabbed his lunch and left. Thus began the long argument.
The muddy footprints greeted Mrs. Moffet when she returned from work. She didn’t have time in the morning to mop again. Now they were mostly dry. Too wet to sweep, too dry to mop. It was going to be a long slog of crawling on the floor wiping things up with paper towels before she could mop.
She considered leaving the mess for Mr. Moffet, but decided he’d probably pretend he didn’t see the mess. After all, he looked right past it that morning. She changed and got to work. As she cleaned, she felt angrier.
Seeing the clean floor once again helped her calm down. Making a mug of hot cocoa and putting her feet up helped even more. She was ready for a calm discussion when Mr. Moffet came home.
He was late. Mrs. Moffet worried a bit, because he hadn’t let her know why he was late or when he’d be home. Worrying made her grumpy. Mr. Moffet was grumpy because he was late, and that meant he spent extra time at work. He didn’t get paid extra for spending extra time at work, so he preferred not to.
“You’re late,” Mrs Moffet declared when he walked in the door.
“Excellent observation,” Mr. Moffet snapped back.
“Now there’s not time to make the soup,” Mrs. Moffet continued.
“What have you been doing all this time? You weren’t late.”
“I was cleaning up your mess!”
“This again?” Mr. Moffet shoved his arms back in his coat sleeves. “I’ll go get a pizza. See? Now I’m fixing your mess.” And he slammed the door on the way out.
They ate the pizza in silence, not looking at each other. They watched their favorite television show side-by-side in silence. At bedtime, Mrs. Moffet decided it was time to talk about the argument. “I spent all afternoon mopping, you know?”
“Again? Weren’t you just mopping yesterday? You must really like to mop,” Mr. Moffet said. Then he closed the bathroom door and forgot all about it.
In the morning, there was a note on the door. It said, “Wipe Your Feet Or You’ll Have to Mop the Whole House Yourself.” Mr. Moffet looked at the note. He wasn’t sure where this new obsession with mopping came from.
He stepped outside to check the weather. It was raining. The path was slippery with mud from the flowerbed. It was higher than the path. Maybe if he put in a brick border, the dirt would stay in place. He made mental plans to pick up bricks on his way home.
He remembered to wipe his feet.
Things seemed mostly back to normal when Mr. Moffet left for work. He decided the argument was probably due to Mrs. Moffet having a grumpy morning and decided to forget it. He got home early from work and spent hours putting in a brick border around the flowerbed.
He wiped his feet going inside, then left his muddy clothes on the carpet beside the clothes hamper and wiped his muddy fingers on the towels in the bathroom before touching the taps.
Mrs. Moffet didn’t notice the brick border. She did notice the muddy clothes on the carpet and the muddy towels. She had another mess to clean up, and she could only hope the mud wouldn’t stain the carpet. The towels were probably a lost cause.
When Mrs. Moffet came storming into the kitchen, Mr. Moffet smiled. “Did you notice anything different?” he asked eagerly.
“What is it with you and mud?” Mrs. Moffet asked, looking angry.
Mr. Moffet wasn’t sure how to answer the question or why Mrs. Moffet was upset. “I don’t like it on the path? Look, I bought hamburgers to celebrate!”
“Celebrate what? The ruined carpet?” Mrs. Moffet yelled.
“No, my project. The border. Didn’t you notice?” Mr. Moffet yelled back.
“Didn’t you notice the mess you made? And I was going to make soup!”
Mr. Moffet took a deep breath to yell again, and then paused. “What are we arguing about?”
Mrs. Moffet frowned. “You keep leaving mud all over for me to clean up.”
“But I remembered to wipe my feet.”
Mrs. Moffet shook her head. “You didn’t yesterday, and there was a big mess. And today you left muddy clothes on the carpet and wiped mud on the towels.”
Mr. Moffet went to the bedroom to check. He was sure it wasn’t so bad. There was a big mess. He wasn’t sure how he hadn’t noticed. Mrs. Moffet came in. “You’ll need to put the clothes and towels on the washer so I can treat them for stains. We’ll see how that goes. It’s not going to be easy getting the mud out of the carpet, either.”
“Mud can stain things?”
“Of course it can!”
Who knew mud was so messy? He played in it all the time as a child without problems. Perhaps the mud here was different. At least he finally knew what the argument was about. “I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful now that I know.”
And with that, the long argument was over. They happily chatted over their hamburgers and made fun of their favorite show. There would be other arguments in the Moffet household, but none of them lasted as long. Years later, they still sometimes talked about the long argument and laughed. They were just grateful it hadn’t lasted any longer.