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Three Meter Zone | JD's Bunker | Poetry | Chapel | American Journal

Man of the House

J. D. Pendry

"A parliament can do any thing but make a man a woman, and a woman a man." - Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke 1534 - 1601

In this day of equal opportunities for all some men have actually turned themselves into house husbands. Can you imagine that? There's also many cases where wives are the family's major breadwinners. With all of this acceptance and apparent elevation of the status of the female gender one might wonder why a few hard core male chauvinists - like me - still want their women at home. You'll notice that their is definitely meant to show possession - as in my woman. Well, I've given this issue considerable critical thought. Let me share the results of that manly critical thinking with you.

After an unusually hot and muggy day (one of those days that makes you wonder why you bothered with wearing underwear and questioning the sanity of the woman who must have invented it) that ended while watching heat waves rise from the asphalt during one of those wonderful rush hour things, I did not think I was out of line to complain to my wife about the lack of cold beer in the refrigerator. After all it was I, the man, who had just spent a hard day seeing to the needs of our family, meeting the demands of an overbearing boss and fending off the attentions of sexed-crazed secretaries. A man deserves a few of life's comforts after such a day. What could she have possibly been doing all day that was more important than seeing to my needs by replenishing the beer stock?

Her answer to my question turned into a rather involved discussion. Actually, heated, spit flying, hair-on-fire, screaming match is a more accurate description of our chat than discussion. Somewhere during our debate and just before it deteriorated into pugilism, I told my wife that she had it made compared to the torture I, the man, was forced to endure daily for the good of the family. And, I was ready to prove it.

Taking a manly stance, hands on hips with jaw jutting out I inquired, "Just how tough can it be to lounge around in my house coat all day while watching The Price is Right and soap operas?" Her narrowing eyes and the grin (smirk now that I think back) she got on one side of her mouth would have warned a sane man. Not old macho me though. I knew she had it made and I would prove it. How? Simple. I told her I would be her for a day; and she could even pick the day. "Fine", she fired back in typical womanly fashion, while tossing her hair back with a flip of her wrist, "how about tomorrow?" Getting those narrow eyes and that smirk on her face again, she issued me the day's instructions. "I'll be gone early in the morning so here's what has to be done. It's laundry day at home, the dry cleaning must be picked up, Junior has a dental appointment, and the list for groceries is stuck on the fridge." In manly fashion, with visions of sleeping in late, not shaving, wearing boxer shorts all day, and having coffee with Bob Barker, I responded with my best manly grunt, "Huh! You call that tough?"

A growling, snarling dog tugging violently on the blanket is not the way I prefer to wake up. Especially on my day off. I could not understand why he would be acting in such a manner and he was not very cooperative while I was trying to disengage the electric blanket wires from his teeth either. Junior, momentarily looking up from whatever morning cartoon show he'd found on TV, cheerfully informed me that, "Maybe it's because mom usually takes him out - about an hour ago." The dog didn't make it across the porch before nature called. A mishap I failed to notice until I looked to see why the dog was so interested in and sniffing at my house shoe. It was the same shoe I wore back into the house across the living room carpet and into the kitchen.

I could not understand Junior's obvious display of ingratitude when I gave him his breakfast. His grimace was not exactly the thank you I expected. "Daaaaad, these eggs look fuuuunny." He said in that whining kid's voice reminiscent of finger nails on a chalkboard. "I don't think they're done. Mom's toast never has this black stuff on it. Do I haaaaave to eat this? Can't I just have a pop tart?" In my most authoritative and fatherly figure manner and voice I gave him the option of, "Eat it now son, or take it to school for lunch." (I bet she would have never taken charge like that. Damn, I'm good at this.) After weighing his options, Junior managed to finish his breakfast just in time to miss the school bus.

Thinking logically, as any man would in this situation I surmised that I could drop Junior off at school and knock off that grocery list and the dry cleaning on the return trip. Since she was the man for the day she took the Mustang and I got the wagon. The wagon seemed OK to me - a fine old machine. I don't know why she always seemed to have problems with it. Women just don't respect these fine old machines we give them.

Junior and I chugged off to school. This is when I discovered that it's not enough to just drive a child to school. You also have to go inside and explain why he is late before they will keep him. The explanation for being late was easy enough - we overslept. It was the explanation about the black stuff smeared around his mouth that proved difficult. Drawing on all my manly instincts for dealing with such situations I lowered my gaze to the floor and quietly said, "It's difficult when there's no mother around." Gaining the instant sympathy of the school lady I was out of there in a flash. She was actually tissuing the black stuff from Junior's mouth as I was leaving. Just before I stepped out the door I heard her say. "Poor little guy." By now, I'm starting to think this is just too easy.

Arriving at the grocery store I discovered I'd left her list behind one of those magnet things on the fridge. I finally decided that if she could do this every week I ought to be able to do it too - and better. Who needs a list? Certainly no man does. So in I went. After a while I had quite a cart load of manly staples like cold cuts, frozen pizza, peanuts and of course the reason for this wonderful day off - beer. She should appreciate the menu change. Everything was going great. It wasn't until the cashier had my rather large order tallied up that I discovered myself to be wallet - less, which also meant money - less. "It must be in the car", I said, red faced and knowing full well that it was still at home. "Let me go get it." Approaching the wagon in the parking lot, I was feeling a little embarrassed. At least I wouldn't have to stop for the dry cleaning - didn't know which cleaners it was anyway. Then I discovered the dead battery in the wagon. "Doesn't she ever take car of this car? You'd never find a dead battery in the Stang." I walked home - while it started to rain.

At about noon the school lady called me. She told me not to worry, Junior only stood in the rain for a little while waiting for me to pick him up for the dentist. I apologized and reminded her that, "things are a little tough right now." "Don't you worry, Hon." She said in a motherly fashion. "We've dried him off and made sure he got lunch. He'll be just fine." Too easy.

I figured now was a good time to take care of that laundry business. How tough could that be? If I worked it just right I could have a coffee break and still catch The Price is Right on TV. I managed to get all of the laundry in one load. I never could figure out why she needed so many different loads. I figure I could get the most efficient use from the washer by filling it all the way up. A woman would never think of efficiency. I did that, then added what I thought to be a sufficient amount of detergent - more soap equals cleaner laundry. Male logic. It works every time.

Now for the coffee break. That's when I discovered there was no coffee. It's the same time I noticed what the first item on the grocery list still stuck on the fridge was. I was sitting there sipping one of Junior's tooty-fruity punch things, rubbing my day old whiskers, and pondering life when I noticed the soap suds inching their way around the corner. I was ankle deep in bubbles when the dog started tugging at my trousers leg. I just opened the door and let him escape. At least he made it clear of the porch this time. I was working hard at getting the last of the soap out of the carpet when the phone rang. It appears the dog developed an affectionate relationship with the neighbor's leg and refused to let it go. It was about that time that old smirk and narrow eyes appeared in the doorway. She held out a bouquet of flowers while asking, "got any cold beer?" (Got to remember that. Flowers first, then ask for the beer.)

We've clarified the roles at our house. It became painfully obvious who was in charge of the house as I fell to my knees begging and sobbing for her to never let this happen to me again. She was a little curious about why I decided to clean the carpets, since it wasn't on her list of instructions. "Just trying to help." She did figure out why all of my white underwear had a blue tint to it. And by now you should have figured out why I want my woman - the queen of my heart - at home. Because I CAN'T HANDLE IT!

Copyright© 1987, J.D. Pendry, All Rights Reserved