Élodie Yung in the "The Cleaning Lady"
Élodie Yung in the "The Cleaning Lady"

I didn’t know being a baleboosta coulda made me a star

I could kick myself. I pride myself as a writer with a knack for timing and clever ideas. Yet I’ve just missed out on a golden opportunity to pitch a winning TV show. It’s too late. The train has left the station. The boat has sailed. Pick your cliché. Whatever, I blew it. To think I call myself a writer. And a baleboosta to boot. To think I could have been a contender, but now I’m just a TV viewer.

What, for heaven’s sake, am I ranting and raving about?

I’ll tell you: Fox just debuted a series called “The Cleaning Lady.” Set in Las Vegas, the show includes Cambodians, casinos and criminals — and a kid with a life-threatening immunodeficiency disorder. It’s all a jumble. It’s all wildly implausible. But that’s not the point. It’s the title that gets my goat.

I coulda, shoulda, pitched a show about a cleaning lady — a baleboosta — a Las Vegas baleboosta, whose secret power is cleaning. And unlike Fox’s “The Cleaning Lady,” my show would have been believable, because: 1) I’m from Las Vegas; 2) I’m Jewish; and 3) Like many Jewish ladies, I am a baleboosta — a super housewife, a mother and (you guessed it) a nonstop cleaning machine.

Now, in terms of my credentials, I’m not bragging. It’s genetic.

My grandmother and mother were baleboostas par excellence. And it’s not just in the genes, but also the Q-tips and the toothpicks they handed me … to clean corners and crevices in furniture and the kitchen and bathrooms as part of my (early) childhood chores.

As for my baleboosta TV show, here are possible plotlines: A young newlywed calls in distress. She’s got a big party to prepare for, but her oven’s a mess. Put me on the job! No cleaning task is too grimy. Encrusted brisket gravy? No problem.

The in-laws are coming, but the bathroom tile is black with mold? Who you gonna call? “The Baleboosta,” that’s who!

Coffee with milk and sugar stains on your hubby’s favorite shirt? And he’s got a Zoom job interview for a cushy new position?! Disaster (and divorce) loom? Don’t despair? Call “The Baleboosta.” Stain be gone! Marriage be saved!

Think of me (and my show) as a 21st-century version of Gertrude Berg — who portrayed Jewish wife and mother extraordinaire Mrs. Goldberg on radio, TV, film and stage from 1929 through the mid-1950s — updated with a smartphone, facial fillers and a touch of snark.

And think of the Vegas mobster, excuse me, alleged mobsters plotlines. Think of their special hard-to-clean-up bloody request? No job too tough for “The Baleboosta.” Skill plus discretion is her calling card.

After all, what baleboosta hasn’t had her share of bloody-nose stained T-shirts to clean? Granted, gunshot stains on the carpet are obviously a bit more labor-intensive, but what baleboosta cannot rise to the occasional challenge? And really, what’s the difference between patching a moth-eaten sweater hole and a bullet hole in a jacket? A hole is a hole is a hole. Am I right?

I’m confident the baleboosta-based cleaning program is a show with legs. I mean, if Mark Harmon’s character Jethro Gibbs of “NCIS” could build a boat in his basement for 19 seasons, attracting viewers with avid devotion, surely those same viewers would be held in thrall by a woman scrubbing kitchen floors, and dispensing folksy household wisdom to perps and people from all walks of life?

And while I don’t know what direction the Fox show will take — with no disrespect to the Cambodian cleaning lady plotline — I know only a baleboosta can come through with chicken-noodle matzah ball soup, brisket and a kugel to bring tears to your eyes, and then make your kitchen appliances shine like the top of the Chrysler Building on blustery cold winter day.

So, what do you say, Mr. Bigshot Hollywood Producer? Whaddya say? In these germaphobe pandemic times, can’t audiences handle two cleaning lady programs? How about we do lunch? Or should I have my people call your people? I am, as they say, available.

Karen Galatz
Karen Galatz

Karen Galatz is the author of Muddling through Middle Age, a weekly humor blog. An award-winning journalist, her nonfiction and fiction essays and stories have been featured in multiple publications. She is a former resident Berkeley who now lives in Reno and can be reached at [email protected].