Of Wives and Housekeepers

Of Wives and Housekeepers

I had an occasion to speak to a junior high school class this week on the subject of “planning ahead.”

I am not now, nor have I ever been expert in planning ahead.

Neither do I anticipate this will change in the near future, although it won’t be for lack of a serious effort on my part.

I have read shelves of self-help books.

I have bought every kind of diary, calendar and organizational aid available to mankind.

I have journaled, listed, and prioritized my goals.

None of this has worked, and I do not anticipate that any of it will, because I am missing the one key element necessary to an organized life – a genie.

Actually, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a genie, although their living space requirements are pretty convenient. Any being with supernatural powers would do – a witch like Samantha Stevens, a maid like Hazel or a house-keeper like Alice.

In other words, I need a wife.

The thought occurred to one day as I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, trying to figure out why my personal life was in total disarray.

More than a year had passed since I changed jobs, but I had yet to finish unpacking. A repairman had commented, “Just moved in?” and I wondered what had given him that idea.

I had been in the house for months, and so had the unpacked boxes. The mirrors and paintings were more at home being propped up against the wall than hanging from them.

A friend of mine had done the very same thing — sold a house, bought a house, moved and totally unpacked — within six months. This was all accomplished as he commuted more than 160 miles a day, all the while putting in a full day of work learning the job and negotiating new challenges.

I commuted almost the same distance, but after six months, I had an apartment that looked like a three-bedroom storage shed.

If he could do it, why couldn’t I?

I’ll tell you why. Because I didn’t have a wife.

His wife picked out the house. His wife organized the move. His wife enrolled the kids in school.

Where was my wife?

Oh wait. That’s me.

I thought about the single fathers I knew. All of them had housekeepers. All of them had a cadre of women, employees, church members, relatives, neighbors — who showered them with dinner invitations, casseroles and assistance.

Women? We don’t need any help. We’re supposed to do it all.

And then I thought of the words of a really irritating commercial from those “enlightened” 80s.

It featured a frying-pan toting woman dressed in a Qiana dress singing — “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget you’re a man!”

The implication there was that women could “do it all.” I remember that phrase. I thought it was stupid then, and I think it’s stupid now.

Doing all the work is not a good thing. In fact, it’s a very, very bad thing.

I am not ordinarily a violent person, but I found myself replaying the commercial in my mind, ending it with a scene like something from a Warner Brothers’ cartoon. The woman gets her frying pan all right – smack in the kisser.

Fry bacon up in a pan? I didn’t even know where my frying pan was, and frankly, I didn’t care.

Who had the strength to shop for, fry up and clean up after the bacon after spending all day earning it? And that “never letting you forget you’re a man” thing? Forget it, you bacon-eating bum!

Of course, the commercial wasn’t aimed at women. It was aimed at getting men to buy a perfume they hoped would transform their ordinary woman into a Martha Stewart Living Doll.

I bought pre-cooked bacon, called up a single dad and got the name of his housekeeper.

She starts Thursday.


Sugar and Spice Bacon

  • 1 pound bacon, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix cinnamon and sugar. Cut bacon in half, crosswise. Coat bacon in sugar mixture. Place on baking sheet, twisting each piece. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Watch carefully as sugar burns easily.

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