Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Stupid Things That Make Me Happy (Part II)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
Now let's get one thing straight — I don’t even pretend to be a liberated man. I do what I do:
• I work and bring home the lion’s share of the family income
• I take out the trash, which she refuses to do, ever
• I take care of the lawn
• I take care of the cars (although through much prodding and subliminal training, I’m beginning to get my wife to actually do some things like take her car to the QuickieLube to get the oil changed. But with anything else, she’d let the wheels fall off before she’d take the initiative to get anything done about it — then blame me for letting it happen. Car maintenance — in any way, shape or form, she says, is “the man’s job.”)

But as far as housework is concerned, I do nothing but clean up after myself. I also make the coffee in the morning (on weekdays) and make the bed in the morning before I go to work (she does the bed and the A.M. coffee on weekends). She does pretty much everything else, be it cooking (she's an incredible cook), cleaning or laundry — which I never do...

I know, I know, I gots it pretty easy. But the reason I don’t do any of those other things is largely because she likes to do things a certain way and would rather not have to re-do the things I screw up. But believe me, I'm well aware of the fact that the balance of labor is definitely in my favor. That’s why when she does ask me to do something, I’m usually happy to do it (hence, the aforementioned gentle reminder of that fact to her last night).

This is the story of a household task that she asked me to do years ago that I still think about now, and smile. It’s stupid, and it made me happy.

Years ago, sometime around the mid-late 80s, when we were living in SoCal and the kids were little, we were struggling to survive on one income (Michelle was a stay-at-home mom until the kids were in middle-school). One day the dryer went on the fritz. It was Wintertime, probably early December, and getting the dryer fixed was out of the question unless we wanted to torpedo Christmas. Back in those days, our abuse of credit cards was rampant, and more than likely the Sears card was already maxed out, so we were sufficiently screwed.

Michelle asked, “What are we gonna do?” I was short on answers in those days. I knew we were already beginning to drown in our growing debts. I did my best ostrich imitation and assured her, “We’ll figure it out.” We discussed it further, ruling out trying to get a friend of ours who was a actually an appliance repairman, to come and help us out. We couldn’t afford to pay him, and besides there would surely be out-of-pocket costs for parts that we couldn’t ask him to incur.

“I guess you’ll just have to go to the Laundromat until we can get past Christmas,” I said.

“That’s ridiculous,” she countered. “It’s too expensive. The money to wash and dry our clothes for a month at a laundromat would probably pay for fixing the dryer!”

She had a point.

“Why not just do the wash here at home and then take ‘em to the laundromat to dry,” I suggested. “It’s a lot cheaper to use the dryers than the washers, isn’t it?”

She looked at me as if I’d just grown a third eye. “Do you have any idea how heavy wet cloths are?” she asked. Searching through my bachelor memory banks, I quickly realized what a nimrod that suggestion made me sound like.

“If you want to do that, then be my guest. But I won’t,” she said, with the resignation of a thoroughly frustrated, weary young mother on the verge of tears. “I just can’t do that.”

“Will you do it for me?” she asked.

“I guess I’ll have to,” I replied with a sigh. I knew I had no choice.

Next: Midnight Madness
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