The Hapless Househusband; ODD (Obsessive Domestic Disorder...)

Slightly Obsessed...

No one goes into anything with the slightest clue that it will prey upon the weaker parts of their personality. It was not part of my plan to become obsessive, but househusbanding has me going nuts over putting stuff away. Normally, i.e. when working, if stuff is in the general vicinity of its intended location, I'm a happy guy.

I think it is because I now see "put away" as the measure of completion; the elusive, “job done” status. Washing up is "done" when everything is sitting neatly in its assigned drawer or cupboard, and the dishwasher is empty. Likewise, laundry is completed when the clothes are hanging or folded and put in their proper places, and the laundry bins are empty.

All very logical.

But there is a serious flaw in thinking like this.

There is always something that needs to be washed. Even if you scour the house from top to bottom beforehand, after your last load you will find a sock, a pillowcase, or an unwashed glass. It taunts you by having escaped your eagle eyes, pointing out by it's very existence, that you are utterly crap at your job.

Now, those who know me well, know that I have always tended towards the slightly obsessive. My colleagues would watch in wonder, as I, almost on autopilot, would straighten the chairs in their classroom. Students or no students. An assembly with five hundred chairs would keep me happily occupied for hours.

But, even so, I'm not exactly Adrian Monk.

Not yet, anyway.

One of my first clues that things may not be going well in the overall mental health department, was my annoyance at finding several Christmas things after carefully de-christmasing the house. I’m a normally laid back guy, slow to anger, and prone to both forget and forgive.

I hated those two towels and the little painted Christmas house more than you can imagine.

A few more months in the home could tip me right on over the edge.

I blame my dad. It was his adage of, "the job's not done 'till the tools are cleaned and put away," that ran, as a mantra, throughout my childhood. Good advice for normal people; the start of the slippery slope for me.

And for him, as it turns out. He obsessed about water spots on the stainless steel sink in the kitchen, thus it was wiped dry and polished every time the faucet was turned on.

Remember, we are English. This means that we are either drinking tea, boiling the kettle for a cup of tea, or washing out the teacups, at every given moment. Two out of those three activities involved turning the water on, and so, was therefore followed by energetic wiping by my dad.

It got worse. Choosing a tile for the bathroom, in a fit of strange, my parents chose high gloss tile that had drops of water pictured in the glaze. Very pretty as it turns out, but remember the tiles were to never get wet, and thus when dry, leave behind a white crust. Having a shower involved more time drying the tiles than getting them wet in the first place, plus you got so hot and sweaty you needed, you know, another shower.

All this was due to hard water; the archenemy of shine. Strange name that, hard water. Before it comes into the house leaving evil deposits on and around everything, I wonder if it hangs out on the corner with its gang. Smoking one last cigarette on the pillion of its motorcycle, cleaning its nails with an oversized hunting knife, eying the locals with evil intent. Anyway, I digress...

So, obsessive behavior...

I get caught up with the email thing too. I publish a hub, and it should give me a small sense of satisfaction, but no...I have to check the emails to see if anyone has been kind enough to respond. If you check the stats button, and you get the "insufficient data" message, more than once (ever) you know exactly what I mean. That stupid "ding" is like a lifesaver to a drowning man. No matter what I'm doing, I have to look. And get sidetracked by yet another chance to make gazillions from the comfort of my own computer.

And this particular weakness is ripe for exploitation in the househusbanding realm. Carpets are only clean if you can see the pretty fan patterns and absolutely no footprints. A meal cannot be comfortably digested until the plates are in the dishwasher.

(Oh yes, I rinse before putting the stuff in- really, have you ever tested to see how dirty they could be put in and still come out clean? No, you simply don't trust the machine, or the goo you put in, do you?)

She-who-is-adored is working, and thus perfectly OK with the "in the general vicinity" idea. Something out of place is not an affront to her every fiber. She does reassure me that when she was at home with two little boys, this was an issue for her, which reassures me that she understands my plight. But it also adds to my loser state of mind. She did all this with two highly energetic boys added to the equation. I am so not worthy.

Some very dear hubbers from the female camp have assured me that the perfect home is in fact, a product of the smoke and mirrors department, and are perfectly ok with doing what they can, when they feel like it.

I need to be more laid back, I know that, but I just plumped up the cushions...

Dear Hub Reader

If you enjoy this hub, please check out my book,

Homo Domesticus; A Life Interrupted By Housework,

A collection of my best writings woven into a narrative on a very strange year in my life.

Available directly from:


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Comments 20 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I'd comment but the damn cat just dumped a hairball on my freshly mopped floor.

Gotta go!

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


I feel your pain!

(Imagine being able to clean everything you own by simlpy licking...)

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

At least now you appreciate what it really takes to run a household. Bravo!

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


I'd have been ok with living in total ignorance, I am a guy after all...


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

Hi Chris, my mate Brummie Mark is a sort of Butler to a surgeon. I asked him what this job entailed. I was informed that the surgeon's kids were all at Uni' and he did very little for quite a lot of money. This won't be of any help to you of course, but i'm sure that your better half is chuffed with your professional attitude towards the tasks at hand. I'll be off out laying bricks in 39 degrees Centigrade heat, tomorrow morning, so sympathy for your current plight is somewhat difficult to muster. But having said that i can imagine the stress involved in having to scour the air-conditioned, or heated house for that lonesome sock and for that i do deeply sympathise. Best of luck with the search, keep flying that flag and don't forget to stock up on the tea bags. Cheers mate, from Concerned of Melbourne.

Pixienot profile image

Pixienot 6 years ago from Clarksville, Indiana

Hey Chris, what is wrong with Adrian Monk? He's one of my favorite OCDers.

I have learned so much from him. And now you! I have a tip for you. Only wash socks in twos. That's what I do, the reason I have a huge basket of un-mated socks.

I am also very charitable. I sack those socks up once a year and donate them to a local shelter. Folks there can sort them. They have the time. Me, I'm busy!

All kidding aside. I really enjoyed your hub and your humor. And I love Adrian! Just FYI

Voted up and funny

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


I spent two very "interesting" summers as a brickies mate. Real life learning I (and my hands) will never forget, so I get your "so what" over my current life crisis. But consider this...

You go for a well-earned pint in the evening, you know it's deserved, everyone in the pub knows it's deserved. You can talk and grunt and cheer about manly things and go home feeling, well, like a real bloke.

I. on the other hand, dare not go into a pub for fear of letting slip that my challenge for the day was matching socks...Zero to emergency ward in what? ten seconds.

Thankfully I am well stocked up with PG Tips...

Cheers, right back at you mate


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


I too am a great fan of Adrian, I just don't want his debilitating handicap (I believe that the writer of the books is a hubber - if I find his site - or remember his name I'll pass it on).

I do pretty well with socks as I don't wear them very often - yeah, rainbow sandals!

I think there is a little OCD in all of us...

Thanks for dropping by again, especially as you leave great comments,


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

Hi Chris, any modern man will realise that it's quite east to toddle off and do a days work. I'm used to the physical aspect of it and don't need to think too much about the job in hand. But i'm street-wise enough to realise how challenging your current position is. With your list of achievements i'm sure that you could and should enter any bar with your head held high. My comments will nearly always be written in jest, though it is a difficult skill to really convey one's true meaning. Having a giggle is the important thing and your hubs are laced with just the right amount of humour to make enjoyable reading. Oops the kettle's boiling.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


I haven't been in America so long that I've forotten the Brit thing, that the better the acquaintance the ruder you are to each other - as my best friend 's**thead' stu can attest!! - so I certainly don't take offense.

I have to laugh at my current situation because the alternative is even more unmanly! I hear my dad's voice in my head, "Don't go all soft on me, boy..." but I can't imagine him ever doing housework. I think he would have simply vanished into his shed everyday...

Yup, I'm also feeling teahydrated, another mug or two should bring me up to operational readiness to tackle the laundry


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

If my dad found out about my Skinny, sugarless Cappuccinos i'd be in real trouble. Must trot, washing awaits.

sueroy333 profile image

sueroy333 6 years ago from Indiana

As one obsessive person to another, I feel your... hold on... OK, got the dustball....pain.

When cleaning the house is a side note, it's all good. When it becomes your "job", it's never good enough.

There's ALWAYS something else to do, and it ALWAYS catches your eye just as you sit down to do what you really want to do, which is write. ACKK!!!

I don't get the "ping", it's probably for the best, I get sidetracked by hubs and comments, and e-mails WAY too easy.

The good news is this.

You live in California. Everyone there is weird, making you perfectly normal!

I think it's time to go iron the sheets.

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


I honestly thought of skinny vanilla lattes as a "diet", turns out not so much, so now I'm just fatter AND hyper!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Some very dear lady hubbers have been emailing me with tips - I am now learning the tricks of the trade, and ironing sheets is for sure not on the list!!!!

I need to turn the sound off, but the little red number next to my mail box is just as distracting.

Glad to have you back, no one has called me weird for far too long :)


sueroy333 profile image

sueroy333 6 years ago from Indiana

Ok, here's the really, really weird thing. I don't know if you see the same ads as I do, but at the top of your hub is an ad that shows a guy vacuuming. The ad is entitled, "Porn for women", I swear to God!

The funny thing is, it's from adsense. These are the same people that will pull an ad if you put the word "topless" in your title!

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Sorry for the bubble burst, but I put that there...the ads are underneath. Porno for women is a book you can buy, it contains many photos of hunks doing housework, and is funny/depressing depending on your gender.


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

Hi Chris,

I can sympathise, been there done that, got the T Shirts, washed, ironed and put them away as well, have you noticed what a bugger they are to iron, 100% cotton ones are anyway...

Plus how the hell do you iron and fold a fitted sheet ? I had to ask an expert, well a woman then, and was told you don’t, when stretched back onto the bed nobody will notice... “Smoke and Mirrors... Same as a quick blast of Lavender furniture polish just as Hubby came through the door gave the illusion of someone sweating over a hot Hoover all day... Yeah Right !

However you are right about one thing, a spot of housekeeping duties turns most men into an obsessive house proud terror... “Don’t put it there I’ve just cleaned that bit !”

Loveslove profile image

Loveslove 6 years ago from England

Where do these houseproud men live ? I havnt met one yet !!

ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


Thanks for that - a load shared and all that...

I wear Ryn Spooner Hawaiian shirts, look great and no ironing for me!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author


It would appear that the male of the species immediately reverts to "supervisor" status in the presence of the female...


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