Booby Trap the Mop
In honor of my summer vacation this year, I’m doing something I’ve never done in my ten or fifteen or however many years of writing this column. (How long have I been writing this, anyway? Anyone? Hm ...) I’ve reprinted my own columns every now and then, but this time, for the first time, I’m introducing a guest columnist.
Chris Durrill is a lady from the Ozarks who I met in cyberspace, through our mutual interest in writing and cult television shows. She has a daughter she dotes on, loves her Mac computer, and in many other ways is just like me except for being better looking.
Chris, who has a website at http://www.geekgirlz-r.us/chris , writes remarkably poetic fiction, some of which you can find under the penname of cagd on www.fanfiction.net. She rescues flowers as a sometimes dangerous hobby, and would be a great newspaper columnist, if she had a newspaper column. Since she doesn’t, I asked and received permission to print this piece about why men are like we are. Maybe I’ll make a comment or two along the way; or maybe I’ll just sit quietly by, hoping nobody figures out that she’s better than me:
In the otherwise forgettable movie, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there’s a gun everybody’s after that changes your perspective – which had been developed/commissioned by a group of angry housewives who, just for once, wanted the men in their lives to see things their way.
Blast your man, and suddenly he sees that it’s a great inconvenience and imposition for him to be sitting there watching football, while everyone around him with ovaries cleans up after him. Ideally he gets up, turns off the game, and with beer in hand, actually helps around the house.
Not as in, “Honey, I just emptied an ash tray, aren’t I a good boy?” but “Here, let me do the vacuuming and I’ll pick up the pairs of dirty jeans and put them in the hamper instead of vacuuming around them.”
It’s gonna take a heck of a lot more than a consciousness raising gun.
I think a good deal of it is genetics. Men from day one were wired to go out and get that mastodon. Mastodon gotten, he and his hunting buddies fell over in an exhausted heap, whooping, “That was great! Shoulda seen Og stick the spear into that thing’s guts!” while their women and children scurried out of the cave, beat off the scavengers, and processed the meat.
Fair enough. Handling large livestock is dangerous and exhausting. You need a certain recovery time so that by the time the meat from such a large animal runs out or starts stinking, you’ve healed up and are ready to go back out again for more.
However, move forward several thousand years and the situation’s changed. Mastodons, for one, are extinct. Someone else supplies the meat, all neatly packaged with little risk of anybody getting trampled, unless you count the farmer loading the animal onto the truck, the slaughterhouse workers unloading the animal, or someone announcing at the local supermarket that there’s a half-off meat sale for the next fifteen minutes.
So, what’s a man to do when his body’s geared toward getting up every once in awhile and going after a homicidal hunk o’ meat when there ain’t a homicidal hunk o’ meat within fifty miles?
He sits around, subconsciously waiting for a hunk o’ meat that will never come, while the women in his family work around him, subconsciously waiting for him to get off his keister and go get that unavailable homicidal two tons of hairy fun for them while getting more and more annoyed.
Yes, I know, he works at a desk or a gas pump, but it’s not the same. So he substitutes: Sports. War. Golf. The sort of things that drive women nuts (Granted, there are women who have come to enjoy such forms of substitute entertainment, but that’s not what I’m talking about today).
Mentally he’s in the Space Age. Biologically he’s in the Stone Age.
How to get him up and helping around the house when he’s not wired for housework? Make housework dangerous:
Booby-trap the mop.
Salt a vial of acid in every third dust rag.
Feel the baby nitroglycerine (Better yet, tell him that you
have, but don’t). The element of risk is escalated to the point that, on the off chance that he’ll blow off the back of the house, he’ll change a dirty diaper without quibbling.
Plant land mines in the lawn. I hear Afghanistan would be happy to supply you with a nice quantity, at fire sale prices.
Hint that there’s a rattlesnake nest in the tomato patch, which by the way needs weeding.
Announce that you just noticed a school of piranha lurking in the overflowing leaf-choked gutters, and a six-foot boa constrictor slipping down the sooty chimney.
Give him a chainsaw to carve the roast with.
Supply a flamethrower to clear those weeds out by the back fence.
Tell him there’s a leak in the propane tank on the gas grill, then hand him a lighter and a pile of steaks.
(Ahem … I’ve had enough propane tank experiences, thank you – Mark)
Make it interesting.
Make it dangerous.
Make it productive.
You might have to up your family’s life insurance payments, but it might be worth it if you have the ovaries to give it a shot.
And hey, it might even save your relationship.