A Man’s Perspective on SHEs
The oldest kid’s room smelled of mold, the middle kid was pasting a sticker book all over the living room walls and the baby was throwing the contents of her bedroom drawers out the window to make room for hide-and-seek.
The kitchen was littered with busted crayons, three sleeping bags reeking of alder smoke were under the dining room table, the parking strip grass was as high as an elephant’s eye and it looks like it’s growing right up to the sky.
Oh what a terrible morning!
We’ve GOT to get organized, “I howled in my best ex-sergeant’s bark.
“Dad! Have you seen the masking tape?”
“Not since Halloween of ’79. Or was it Christmas of ’78?”
“Dad! Where’s my bathing suit?”
“Out on the back lawn where you left it last week. A cat has taken it over…”
The Keeper of the House sailed through the front door bearing five bolts of material to add to the three bales she has stashed in her sewing room in the basement—projects she intends to someday (a) start, (b) muse over, (c) maybe even complete. She is into what might be called sewing futures.
“All our problems are solved!” she cried.
You hired Mr. Clean?”
“You’ve had an affair with the White Tornado?”
“No, I bought a book, ‘Sidetracked Home Executives: From Pigpen to Paradise.’”
“Well,” I said, “as long as we get this mess picked up starting right now, I’m for it. What would you like me to help with?”
“Nothing right now. I have to organize a card file.”
She left and returned an hour later with a card file box and about 2,000 three-by-five cards. She sat, scribbling things like “cobwebs M17 and mumbling “picture frames.”
“Would you like me to knock down some cobwebs?” I asked.
“No, no” she muttered, clearly annoyed, “that isn’t due for another three weeks.”
“Why don’t I knock ‘em down now and not have to worry about it?”
“Because it will screw up the whole system,” she added, kicking two pairs of kiddie overalls under the dryer. She went back to her cards.
Two days later, she was still filling out cards and I stayed home from work to find some socks.
On the third day, she mopped her brow and cried, “Done!”
She closed the file box with a click and poured herself a Henry Reinhard.
“Wonderful,” I said, holding onto a blue sock and a tan sock, “Let’s get at it.”
“Are you crazy?” she said, pointing to a calendar pasted to her file box. “Today is Tuesday.”
“We’re in Belgium?”
“No Tuesday is a ‘Free Day. Everybody needs some time off.”
“OK, first thing is the morning…”
“Pipe down,” she advised. “Wednesday is a ‘Quiet Day’—for baking and planning.” She put a frozen steak into the dishwasher to thaw.
I got up in the middle of the night and tip-toed to her kitchen office, falling over a Fisher Price taxicab (durable rascals) in the process. I peeked into her file: “THURDAY—Heavy Cleaning: Laundry.” I eased back to the bedroom, wincing slightly at the Lego I’d picked up between my second and third toes, and slept like a babe.
Thursday morning she was in a modified snit.
“I don’t know how I’m going to get us from pigpen to paradise today,” she said.
“There’s so much to do.”
“You mean scrubbing and vacuuming and …”
“Yes. And the kids’ swim team, the baby’s Suzuki-method harmonica lesson, and my tennis group plays at noon.”
“Tomorrow’s another light day,” she said. “Grocery shopping and errands. Then, of course, the S.H.E.s have their weekends off. Otherwise housework would drive you crazy.”
I skidded on a chunk of green Play Doh and hobbled off to work. I’d get a bottle of champagne to celebrate the clean house on the way home. Perhaps some flowers. A new John Denver record. Candles.
When I got home, I yodeled yoo hoos and was greeted in silence. I peered into the kitchen and shrieked.
Red stains were smeared across the sink. Crimson gore mottled the counters. Viscous red puddles were splotched across the floor. The baby waddled out of her bedroom, deep red staining her hair.
Spouse called up from the basement.
“Guess what happened today?”
“Your sister, Medea, came to call?”
“No, I put up 40 pounds of cherries. I’m bushed.”
That was heavy. I looked at the champagne, candles and roses, glanced over at the file box. I had a feeling it just wasn’t in the cards.
Written by John Hinterberger