Saturday, April 30, 2011

Housework (Among Other Things)

A dear friend of mine of long acquaintance once told me what some might regard as a “chick joke”. It’s the story of a woman handing an attractive man a 100-dollar bill and saying “Paint my house.” OK ladies, yuck it up, but I say to my friend, “Maybe you just don’t know the right guys.”

It’s funny how my Aspergian memory ranges from being occasionally horrendous in the media present to being phenomenally clear for events that I’ve managed to “lock in”. One of my favorite memories was a visit I paid friends of mine in San Diego 20 years ago. When I walked in the door, as Barbara greeted me I couldn’t help but notice that in the living room her husband, who at the time was a marine drill instructor, was ironing one of his shirts. I asked does he always iron his shirts and she said, “Oh he won’t let me get near them.” (for the record, you could shave yourself with the creases in his uniform and use his spit-shined shoes for a mirror). That night at dinner (which was an out-of-this-world pasta dish), I kid Barbara that her husband probably decided to propose to her shortly after the same night she cooked for him the first time. Their two daughters, at that time aged 6 and 3, were doing the “eat like little girls routine,” the twirl your fork around on the plate, put down your fork, stick out your lower lip and wear an expression that says, "I am NOT hungry."

At this point, Dad said, “I want you girls to clean up your plate. Barb when you’re done eating if they haven’t cleaned up their plates they’re going to bed and don’t eat slowly to give them more time.” At this point I tried to do some discreet cheerleading for the girls: “Come on kids, Mom’s cooking in wonderful.” A few minutes later, when Barb had cleaned her plate, Erin (the six-year-old) had cleaned her plate, Seana (the 3-year-old) had cleaned her plate, and furthermore, **I** had cleaned up **mine**. And if anyone is snickering, you can knock it off, because if you had been there, you would have cleaned up your plate too.

The next day dad and I walked in the living room where the two kidsters had been playing with playthings strewn over a considerable portion of the living room. At this point dad says “Girls, you’ve made a mess on the floor.” At this point the three-year-old looks at the six-year-old, the six-year-old looks at the three-year-old, and they look back at daddy with an expression that seems to say, “So what daddy-o, that’s our job.” Dad then said, “You girls are not going to sea world until that mess is cleaned up.” In 12.4 seconds, the family living room was ready for a photo shoot for better homes and gardens.

That night, I once again got to enjoy Barbra’s cuisine, and when we were finished, Dad did the dishes as he had the previous night. I was mildly surprised and very politely asked Barbara if her husband always did the dishes. A voice from the sink replied, “No but I do more than my share, don’t I **dear**?” To which Barb replied “He does, he really does.” Pause. I guess I quite involuntarily raised an eyebrow at that bit of news, to which Barb got an almost dear in headlights look and said, “But he does them so much faster than I do!” Sorry folks, I had to chuckle at that one. Barb had got a husband an awful lot of women would envy, and she has to come up with alibis for her husband doing the dishes? Come on, that’s funny.

So what do you get when you have a husband who is conscientious about helping out with housework and keeping his kidsters on the straight and narrow? In this case, some absolutely beyond amazing children, and a marriage that lasts. This past Valentine’s Day, Barb and her husband celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary. Congrats to them, and may the next 28 years be even better.

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