“Give That Woman a Medal”

I have a new friend who’s always writing letters to the editor about what kind of Hell the country is headed for now. I find I agree with a lot of what he says though I lack his edge, meaning the anger that allows him to fire off searing missives to every paper in the county.

He sent me one, is how we met.

He thought I was an on-staff journalist in whatever paper it is where he reads my column each week; he didn’t know I was one of those slacker freelancers who are half the time writing from a bed piled high with half-eaten bagels, orange peels and a doting housepet or two.

Anyway he knows what I do now. And this is what  he had to say regarding Tuesday’s post about the woman who used extreme measures to get her sons and husband to pitch in with the tasks of daily life:

“Every household is as different as every country,” he began. “My mother had 11 children.  She cleaned, cooked, did everything mother always did then, including going down cellar every morning to get the coal for the stove, for heating  the house, for cooking. My two oldest sisters would do the dishes…. SOMETIMES. My two oldest brothers did nothing as far as I can remember. Nobody had chores except…. my mother! No sense talking about my father the gambler. (He lost OUR shirts as well as his own!)”

He went on to say that when the 11 grew up and left home they did finally become conscious of what they should have been doing. His feeling: they just didn’t know before: “We didn’t know because nobody told us and since no one told us what to do, it was left  to our housekeeper/cleaning-woman/mother to do everything. We did all go to work at 16 to support the old man’s habits and addictions. Finishing high school was out of the question. ‘ Education’ was not a word we heard; college was a disease. 

“So give an A+ to that lady you wrote about in your column,” he ended by saying. “She deserves a medal!”

Again you can read here  about the method of ‘that lady’ whose best move in my book getting rid of all the old dishes and bowls and cups and cutlery and giving each of family member his own small color-coded set.  That way if one ran out of his color he couldn’t poach the other guy’s without being exposed. 

Genius, no? She also stopped washing their clothes unless she jolly well felt like it.

When our kids lived here I started every day at 5am with a load or two of wash. We’d been poor enough so that having a washer and drier in the home still seemed to me like the height of luxury so I didn’t mind Dishes though? Dishes are a whole other thing.

If I lived with a guy who left his dishes around or kicked off his socks and walked away from them I don’t know what I’d do. Luckily, Old Dave is great around the house, though we did have some bumpy times early in the marriage. (The man’s mother used to IRON HIS UNDERPANTS. AND THEY WERE BRIEFS!)

Women have memories like elephants so I have a thousand stories about the Chore Wars but tell ya what: I’d much rather hear how others divvy up the jobs.  Send an email if you’re shy about posting a comment publicly and let’s see what we’ve come up with among us over the years.