Recommended wine for today’s entry: I’ll be sipping some Little Black Dress chardonnay tonight, leftover from last night’s soiree. Astounding that there’s any left, as my friends Jody and Beth and I perhaps overindulged a bit. It’s a light, summery wine, perfect for your Memorial Day cookout.
The holiday weekend was packed with chores, making me contemplate household responsibilities. When my husband and I were first married, both working long hours, living in our little 1,400-square-foot house on our 1,500-square-foot lot in Dallas, I was astonished to find how many things needed to be done. Repeatedly.
Of course, I thought that my husband would do them all. That’s why I got married. So two weeks after the honeymoon, when he asked why we didn’t have any food yet, I threw it right back at him: I don’t know. You tell me. Did you see the Tom Thumb on the corner? Open all night, they say. We could have food in a half hour if you’d get your keys and go.
That didn’t work. He expected ME to do some of the stuff – and after extensive negotiations, we decided that he’d handle everything in the yard and I would handle the inside of the house. Well, my advice to newlyweds: DON’T TAKE THAT DEAL. Because everything bad is inside: the cooking, the laundry, the dishwasher (and I hate unloading the dishwasher) and vacuuming, which is loud and makes my teeth hurt.
Meanwhile, Jeff got to mow the lawn, spending time enjoying nature, and it took a whopping hour a week. Then he’d come inside, whining about it being 102 degrees (sissy) and drink all the ice tea I’d just spent ten minutes making, leave the glass on the counter for ME to load in the dishwasher, throw his icky sweaty T-shirt on top of the washer for ME to wash, leave a trail of grass across the floor for ME to vacuum and get the shower that I had just cleaned all dirty.
See what I mean? A screw job. So when finances improved, he hired someone to cut the lawn. Fine, I said, and I hired Rosa-your-maid the next day. (We always called her Rosa-your-maid because that’s what she called herself whenever she called me at my office.) The first day she came, I met her at the house, where she informed me that I’d need to have everything picked up before she came so that she could clean properly, she wouldn’t do laundry or unload the dishwasher and sometimes she “wouldn’t be able to make it.” Great, I said, handing her cash. This sounds perfect.
As long as I kept up my part of the bargain — that is, cleaning the house before she came — having a maid was wonderful. Since there was little left for her to do, she spent her spare time redecorating my house. For example, one day she called me at work:
“This is Rosa-your-maid. I have left you a bill on the kitchen table, because I have purchased some new flowers for your living room. You have had a summer-color arrangement in there and now it’s October and since you didn’t know to change it, I did.” Of course, I paid her and kept the rust-colored plastic flowers in my brown and pink (OK, I never said I was a decorating guru) living room until she saw fit to change them again. We acquired a new mirror and some throw pillows in similar fashion, and in retrospect, I believe we were buying Rosa-the-maid’s cast-offs from her own house.
She also moved our furniture all the time. We’d come home from Happy Hour on Fridays with a bit of a happy on, throw our keys on the table…oops, the floor, and then turn the corner and trip over the chair that lived in the bedroom that morning when we left for work. We’d cuss about it but leave everything where it was, because we were afraid to hurt her feelings. Then I’d unload the dishwasher and start the laundry.
So the moral of the story is: When the marital chores are being divided, TAKE OUTSIDE. And if you hire a maid, see if they’ll clean the house.