Thursday, September 20, 2012
Married life is full of double standards. Wives can designate snaking toilets, checking mousetraps and investigating late night noises as “men’s work”, but to suggest any household chore is “woman’s’ work” is a guarantee you’ll be needing a load from the “Suck Up Truck”. Conversely, however, if she goes the extra mile and, say, cleans out the refrigerator completely; carefully disinfecting every interior surface, she expects it to be noticed. Husbands performing the same task expect, not just notice, but adulation. They want to be carried around the kitchen atop Wifey’s shoulders, rose petals strewn before him, while she sings, “You’re the Tops”. Either that or a little smooch action. It’s amazing what lengths men will go to if they think what they’re doing is foreplay.
There is one double standard in particular that makes me angrier than Lewis Black at full rant. That double standard is the concept of a “job jar”. My own little dumpling of joy, the inestimable Cupcake, does not share my view of its inherent unfairness.
“Why is it not sexist for the husband to have a job jar but not the wife?” I wondered aloud after the subject surfaced one gorgeous Saturday morning. “I don’t get to make lists of jobs for you to do.”
“That’s because I already know what to do and don’t need to be told,” she explained patiently as if to a child… a child not exactly on the “swift” side of the spectrum. “You, however, need direction in order to be useful. If I wasn’t forcing you to look at your job jar after who knows how many weeks of inattention, you would choose to do something else.”
“Well… yeah…” I couldn’t really argue that point.
“Probably hanging out with Cam next door….” She added triumphantly.
“Okay, I agree,” I shrugged amiably. “So?”
“So you don’t see me hanging out with Cam next door when there’s work to do,” she said a bit too snidely for my liking. I didn’t mention it, however, as I suspected what was to my liking was currently not on her radar.
“Fine,” I huffed, despite the knowledge that move doesn’t have nearly the impact as when she does it (another double standard). “I’ll get the job jar.”
The glass container was found shoved at the far back of the jammed closet in the porch. It’s as if someone had consciously thought, “Out of sight; out of mind”. I inserted my hand and withdrew a slip.
“Return tapes to the movie store. Don’t forget to rewind first,” read the slip. Apparently, it had been a while since I cracked the jar.
I quickly crumpled up the incriminating slip and tossed it.
“What did it say?” Cupcake inquired suspiciously.
“Oh, nothing,” I responded breezily. “It was just a small task that was already done.”
This was, in fact a bit of a prevarication, as the tapes are actually still in that same closet that the job jar had been hidden in. The store, and indeed, the entire video tape rental industry, though, was done like dinner.
“Uh huh,” Cupcake’s narrowed… probably from dust or pollen in the air, I hoped. “Pick another and read it out loud this time.”
“Okay, here we go,” I said delving once more into the glassy depths. “Stain the fence.”
“That is a good one,” nodded Cupcake vigorously. “Protect the wood and all that.”
“Stain isn’t cheap, you know…” I began.
“No, but you are,” interjected my loving life-mate, again with the snidely.
“…and the stain can’t be applied unless there no chance of rain.”
“So?” She furrowed her brow in a much-practiced sign of incomprehension.
“We live in Alberta,” I pointed out. “Every nice day, we get a storm in the afternoon. All of that expensive stain would simply wash away.”
“So how did you manage to stain it the first time?” Cupcake continued with her impromptu inquisition.
“Surely you didn’t mail the boards out of province.”
“I pre-stained them before I nailed them up, of course,” I replied haughtily. “You wouldn’t have known that as there was no slip for that in the job jar.”
“Fine,” Cupcake thundered sending a chill through my bones like the scary part of a horror movie. Man, I wish I could do that! “You don’t have to stain the fence today but you’re not getting out of some kind chore.”
“Now honey… you know me,” I gazed at her beseechingly. “You know I’d never shirk my duties… no seriously… okay sometimes I shirk my duties but only sometimes. Leave everything to me and I promise to take care of every slip in that jar. You have to trust me, for heaven’s sake.”
From over the fence came Cam’s voice, “Hey, Chris! Hurry up! It’s your turn at shuffleboard.”
The look Cupcake gave me made me wish I’d gotten the “anti-glare” option on my glasses. The look was powerful and more dread inspiring than cop lights in the rear views. I have no look like it in my arsenal, nor do most other men I know. That too, is an unfortunate double standard. When they give us “The Look”, we care.
I’d bet most husbands would agree with me that double standards abound. They would, of course, wait until their wife was safely out of the room before they agreed, but their furtive nods would speak volumes. There probably are double-standards in a marriage that benefit men over women, too, I would hastily put in, but conveniently, few come to mind. I’m sure Cupcake could come up with an example or two, but I’m not asking.
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