Notes on a Murder Sponge

Deride domestic cleaning issues at your own risk

Tony Russo


Scrub Daddy sponge in the shape of a smiley face

On the off chance my wife murders me, I want to tell you something:

I’ve been dipping into “The Best American Short Stories of the Century” and wanted to quick-shout-out A Jury of Her Peers, by Susan Glaspell, published in 1917 and based on the one-act play of the same name published the year before.

It reminds me of a couple of things. The first is that the primary cultural retardant in America is a fear of upsetting the congenitally stupid. I wrote about it here, after realizing that what we think of as “primitive” thinking is really just evidence that we would rather squish new information into old thinking than endanger our already-fragile worldview.

In my story, it was the absurd idea that Egyptians believed a pig ate the moon over the course of 28 days. In Gladspell’s it was the even more absurd idea that women have lives, ideas and insights. That their reasons for being dangerous are somehow more capricious than the reason men are dangerous.

The story, about a pair of women who choose to conceal damning evidence that a housewife murdered her husband, is more than 100 years old. In it, the men run around looking for clues and treating the women (one of whom was fairly close to the accused) like naive children.

It is so worth reading that I don’t want to give the particulars away (the full text is in the link above), but I do want to talk about the sponge my wife just bought (pictured above).

It is unnecessarily cutesy. It’s a goddamn sponge. No one needs a cute sponge.

Then it occurred to me that, if the sponge didn’t come packaged that way and my wife carved that smily face herself, the sun-yellow smiley face scrubber is a lot less cute. If she reaches the point of carving happy faces into sponges with a butcher knife without me noticing, whatever happens, I probably have it coming.



Tony Russo

Pencil-sharpening enthusiast, journalist, author of “Dragged Into the Light”