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The Rise of the Hapless Househusband
So, the economy is doing some strange things, and many of you gentlemen out there are no longer getting suited up and driving to an office somewhere. This is not by choice, for most of us, and like every change foisted upon mankind, we have to figure out how to survive.
When employed, we would gaze in envy at the men not wearing work clothes, and daydream of days watching Miami Vice or whatever your particular pleasure would be. The thought of peeling yourself out of bed at noon, slipping into your most comfortable clothes, and, basically, loafing around a la ‘best Saturday ever’, is an appealing antidote to the pressures of your working life.
First of all, if your partner is the one who is working, and thus, carrying your unemployed butt, plan A is out of the window, big time. Staying in bed, when she has to get up, produces stink-eye set to stun. You could try just lying there, but you have to have the hide of a rhinoceros, be a little bit brave, and quite a bit stupid too. If you don't get up with the new boss, you will have no idea what it was that you were supposed to be doing all day. Failure to deal with " the list,” actual or implied, makes the morning stink-eye seem tame.
If you are on the "so what?" team, this hub is not for you. If you are on the "so what is my new role?" team, read on.
Running a home, turns out, is a real job. Actually, a very hard job, indeed. I consider myself domestically unimpaired, having always shared the home-type duties with my loved one. Trash, anything needing fixed, cutting grass, cutting tree limbs, anything heavy, and anything icky, those have always been mine. I also did most of the cooking, being the only bona fide foodie in the house, and thus, by extension, the shopping.
But there's more, much more.
Vacuuming, pardon the pun, totally sucks. Plus, you end up hating people for having the audacity to actually walk on your nice fan patterns on the floor. Toilets, surprisingly, need more than just being flushed, and being on your hands and knees in front of the bowl, while sober, will be a new experience for the majority of us.
Laundry is, probably, one of the easier chores (other than it is a never ending cycle) especially once you realize that you need to sort, whites and colors, first. Getting the stuff out of the dryer can be a time-consuming drag, and in my case, it points out the huge size differential between us. My wife is petite, which means that half her clothes have labels that are as large as the item itself. My stuff is all from the "husky" department. Dry clean only, means exactly that. A seriously trashed rag is an expensive way to find out that particular truth.
For the last, however many, years, I have dealt with laundry by not dealing with it. Sure, I would take the dry cleaning and the laundry to be done, and pick it up, but on the whole, stuff returned to my closet with minimal effort on my part. Now I have ironing. Torture for the most part, though you can glance at the TV while doing it. (Glance only, watching equates to burns and other ironing failures.)
And now I reach the single biggest problem of all...
When you are a ‘real’ working stiff, anytime you were not working, there was something good to watch on TV. Here's a shock, there are very few big sporting events on during the weekday. Sure, there's always golf, but aren't you already hurting? There’s no time (or money) for that in your new role. Baseball has never been my sport, and the occasional international soccer match is not enough to keep you riveted.
Seriously though, daytime TV is really sad. It may be a ploy to make sure you go out and get a job, any job, to get away from it. The advertisements are aimed at high school dropouts, people who can't get insurance, and young people with bad skin. For variety, there are a few commercials aimed at the elderly, with taunts of mobility, and time spent with a loving family.
And cleaning products…
Now, in this department, these are way behind the times, as the cleaning angel, who is both young and beautiful, cleans, without any hint of effort, what appears to be an already clean house. And she is always a woman. The only guy is a cartoon and bald, with a totally fake name. (Can you imagine if he went into politics - vote for Mr. Clean!) Now, I admit I did get a little bit excited when I bought a new Swiffer, (360 degrees, who knows how many degrees I had been missing before…)
Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I look like hell when I'm cleaning. It is hot and dirty, my shirt and hair are plastered to me, and I always have a shower afterwards, not before. I sure as heck don't get my hair done in case someone pops over. In advertising land, these ladies finish just as their friends come round for coffee, everyone looking perfect, and with magical timing, some home baked goods just coming out of the oven.
This places undue pressure on regular people trying to do a good job. Our kitchens never look like the ones in Ad-land, and though women may be used to this, for men who have lost their sense of self, along with their jobs, this is just one step too far.
So, with the TV screaming "failure" at you, you have to find a way to escape. The mall is a bad idea, as everyone seems to be staring at you with " why aren't you at work?" eyes, plus after four hours in the Apple store, the geniuses start looking at you funny. Thus, you end up in Starbucks, nursing a small cup of something, and playing with your electronic devices. Can't stay there too long though, there's dinner to be prepared, and other stuff that was on the list which you probably forgot about.
So, in this way, a large group of men are evolving into homo domesticus, househusbands. But take heart, you are not alone.
And of course by writing this, I got horribly behind on my chores...
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: