The Hapless Househusband Gives Himself A Time Out...
Truth is; househusbanding is fraught with multiple opportunities for screwing things up. The cleaning to breaking stuff ratio can go way up on a bad morning, the laundry can give you the blues (actually pinks…) and there are days when my motivation is totally all over the place. On days like this I know I have no choice but to punish myself...
I realize that, like all naughty boys, I need a time out every now and then. And living in Lemon County, there are many ways that I can punish myself. There are two hundred and fifteen Starbucks within a ten minute drive from my house, so, not wanting to give the impression that I spend most of my day there, I visit as many as I can. I'm a guy, so I always order the same thing (skinny vanilla latte, thanks for asking...), and have certain spots that I like to ensconce myself in.
I love sitting in Starbucks. I have convinced myself that while I am there posing with my iPad, I am actually working. The smell of coffee has to be in the World's top-five-nice-things-to-smell, list, and the atmosphere is all fun and relaxed, just like we dream that work should be...
Then I mess about with an idea or two and start writing. The background noise is a gentle hum that lets me think, well, normally.
There are a few characters that reduce the experience to a real punishment, seemingly all out of central casting, so I’m guessing that you have met most of them at some time or another.
It is not so great when phone lady gets going. You know her, dressed to the nines, New York expat or wannabe, with a voice that rivals Fran Dresher. The sound actually contains broken glass that embeds itself in your brain causing an instant headache. She is apparently close to closing the deal, but whoever she is talking to hijacks the conversation and reduces phone lady to screeching, "I know," every few seconds or so.
The ‘conversation’ and inevitable kiss-off, takes about twenty minutes, and by that time the place has emptied. Dozens of middle-aged men are standing around in the street outside clutching their laptops like their lives depend upon it. Their faces showing the fear that comes from recalling their first marriage and the harpy that emerged after the nuptials were a done deal.
These guys do not do well when disconnected from their wifi umbilical chord, but phone woman -v- access to the internet is not a fair competition. They stand outside, all pale and wobbly, and pray to google that she die of laryngitis.
There is a phone woman’s male equivalent, of course. He may, or may not, be on the phone, but Mr. Loud-because-dammit-I'm-important, is just as annoying. He knows everyone who comes in and has to share how great he is doing this very day. Yes, he uses language like a weapon and there is not a single cliché that he does not love, mangle, and share at maximum volume. I suspect that he is also a serial hugger, so people give him the same space that they would a rabid bear.
Normally I love it when some fellow Starbucker asks, hey what is that thing, and I get to show off my coolness and quasi techie credentials. With Mr. Loud around, that baby is in my bag faster than a rattlesnake can strike. The horror of him talking at you in the guise of questions, while you get to bathe in his importance and loudness, is unbearable and may cure you of your love of coffee forever.
Occasionally the ambience is subjected to the inappropriateness of the very young. Why anyone would think Starbucks is a good place for children is completely beyond me, but some misguided parents still commit this social faux pas. Now, it could be that these ladies are housewives holding onto their sanity by the slimmest of threads, and I am doing them a great injustice. Maybe Tristan and Tabitha have been driving her crazy as she degreased the range, or they kept unplugging the vacuum for entertainment, consequently each blaming the other with a chorus of did not-s and did too-s. Desperate, mom decamps for a quick cup of coffee, and wonders if she gave the little darlings a couple of shots of espresso, if they would actually stick to the ceiling and give her some damn peace.
Oh, and there’s over-cheerful barista lady. Can’t forget her. You know her, been on since five a.m. and is on her fifteenth cup of Joe. She is way past perky and has now officially broken her personal volume control, calling everyone ‘hun’ and ‘darling’. If you look closely, you can see her vibrating. The rest of the crew give her a wide berth and cast anxious glances in her direction lest she actually explode…
But today is not one of those days. There are no antisocial teens grunging up the corner. No book-club ladies. No really smelly guy. No, complaining because its not hot enough/too hot guy.
Today is how it should be. Buzzing in a nice way, steam, laughter and the wonderful aroma of the wonderful bean. A truly great time out.
Of course while I'm here, the dust is conspiring to cover every surface of the house. The vacuum cleaner is clogging itself. The darks are sitting in the dryer. Again. And about four thousand honey-dos are waiting for me to come home. With the helpful kick of caffeine, the responsibility part of my brain begins to stir and the guilt slowly creeps into every cell, signaling the end of the time out.
With some regret I head home, thinking about what to make for dinner, hoping that She-who-is-adored has not been overly savaged by the sixth grade, and imagining what naughtiness I can commit to give myself a time out tomorrow...
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.
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