Standing across from me, with the kitchen island between us, my friend PC cast a look around, “Your house is so clean, and spotless.” I responded, "Yeah, dot dot dot." I didn’t actually say “dot dot dot” but there was a … at the end of my “Yeah.” It’s like half a question mark at the end of a sentence. Try it yourself. Pause reading, mute yourself if you are in a meeting, and say “Yeah” followed by half a question mark. Say it a few times. Make sure you are on mute. PC looked at me with half a question mark. I was obviously expected to say something more. Dispensable modesty aside, I am never at a loss for words. I might later find a better reply, but being at a loss for words is so not me. But after the “Yeah,” I was more lost for words than on my last attempt for a Wordle word like ouija, enoki, craic, or squab. PC looked at me expectantly and I looked around for a suitable addition to the “Yeah.” There were cobwebs above the glass patio door. I could draw her attention to those. I hesitated. Those cobwebs have a special place in my kitchen folklore. We’ve looked at them at many a dinnertime. DH says we should remove the cobwebs. I say yes need to find the cobweb broom. He asks, the one with the telescopic handle? We tell the children about cobwebs removal days from our childhood homes. The webs never really got cleaned. Like a self-cleaning oven, they just withered away with time, and new ones replaced them. Like a well-behaved species, never extinct, never over-populated. Like guests who come and go with you barely knowing. I gave up on pointing them out to PC. There was the dust under the sofa. You can buy a microfiber extendable duster with 13,543 reviews from Amazon, but dust under the sofa will always win. You can lie flat on the floor and wave the duster like a white flag, but dust wins. I could have said, “It is clean as long as you don’t peek under the sofa.” The problem with pointing out cobwebs or dust though is that I place supreme importance on being the gracious host. Refuting or contesting a guest’s compliment is a rudeness I do not permit myself. So, I was still looking around for what to say after the “Yeah…” I spied my DH and Mr. PC poking their heads and peering at each other from opposite sides of the wall TV. A peekaboo I have not heard of? No. Turns out they were not sure the gap between the wall and TV was indeed less than an inch. So, I could possibly foist the blame for cleaning the house spotlessly on my DH? “Oh you know DH.. he will always deep-clean the house like we are going to eat off the floor.” But, I find the very notion of eating off the floor disgusting. Not to mention all that oil and turmeric seeping into the floor makes me want to curl my toes so tight that I’d soon need to shop for a size 0.5 smaller. No way. Most of my shoes are now less than a year old. My feet and the shoes know each other like a couple in a marriage that is too good to leave. Plus, I didn’t want to give PC a cue to launch into a litany of her husband’s laziness, laptop addiction and cell phone habit. I learned that long ago that telling a friend anything your husband did unbidden – cleaned the garage, wiped the fridge, sorted the freezer, or completed the child’s science project for you – will invite the friend to complain about her husband not doing that. I was still at a loss for words. I’d thought agreeing with someone would shorten conversations. I am agreeing as I type this. My friend on WhatsApp has just landed in India. Friends who just land in India are like a newly-wed daughter who has just woken up the morning after the wedding and realized the kitchen in sasuraal is ancient. She has a lot to say to mom in WhatsApp. Anyway, so with chatty friends, I just agree in the chats. A “Yes”, “I know”, “True!” delivered at unpredictable intervals do the trick of seeming attentive. Add a “We typed at the same time!” and an “Exactly!” and you will defeat the smartest AI response bot. But, here I was, PC standing across the kitchen island and no WhatsApp. My “Yeah …” was hanging in the air as expectant as a pregnant woman about to peek at the stick she’s peed on a few minutes ago. I looked covertly at all the machines in my kitchen. Not one was beeping for attention. PC and I stood in the spotless kitchen, a shiny island separating us. Our very own Mexican stand-off if you will. And then help arrived unexpectedly. The men ambled over to the kitchen. Conversation switched to holidays sales and TV purchases. PC and I both knew we would revisit the topic soon. But, I have to say, I felt a certain satisfaction at having got away with just a “Yeah…” And to top it off, I managed not to tell her about the cleaners I found during the pandemic, hired and trained. Ha. They answer texts, are never too busy, and always on time. Ha ... .