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TED MARKLE: A man’s work is never done

There's more to keeping house than cooking a meal.
There's more to keeping house than cooking a meal.

“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.” Simone de Beauvoir

Recently, Sue and I had to do a sort of role reversal.

While Sue has always worked (part-time over the past many years), her new retail role required a ramping up of hours leading up to the holidays. Working more than full-time, her usual impeccable management of our home was suddenly left to me.

“No prob,” I told her. “How tough could this be?”

I’ve always been comfortable in the kitchen (one of the secrets of being a good cook is an appreciation of good food) but I discovered there is so much more to running a home. (Dishes, for one!)

The most challenging part was the total lack of structure. With no system to follow, I began to fall apart. Sure, Sue left me a list, but there is randomness to getting a house in order that I found overwhelming.

The list was long, detailed and rambling. My mind was clogged after reading her stream of consciousness that included pet routines (dosages, meal preferences and walking routes), recipe ingredients, scrubbing techniques, taking the prime rib out of the freezer, a mini-user guide to our vacuum (it sucks), dishwasher protocol, and passive-aggressive references to my current state of hygiene.

That last part may have been warranted. I don’t know how long it had been since I last showered and shaved, but on her way out, I’m pretty sure that Sue held her breath as she gave me a quick peck on the cheek and a thinly veiled threat regarding the consequences should her list remain incomplete upon her return

I replied with a humorous (I thought so, at least) comment about the chesterfield, bon-bons and watching documentaries on Netflix.

Where to begin?

Jumping on that chesterfield, I glanced again at the list and found it impenetrable. There was no logical place to begin – no sequence of actions to follow. I got up, danced around the periphery, playing a game of snakes and ladders – a whirlwind of incomplete tasks – performed in no logical order.

I soon grew tired and returned to safety of the sofa and Netflix. Phoebe shook her head. I think I heard Squirt (the cat) call me unspeakable names.

In what seemed like no time at all, from my comfortable perch, I glanced up at the clock. I was flabbergasted to see that almost the entire day had flown by.

Panicked, I knew I had mere minutes before Sue came home. I jumped up, ran to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and rubbed my scraggly face. It was time to step up. I undressed, began to brush my teeth and turned on the shower (takes a dreadfully long time to come to temperature). In the spirit of maximum efficiency, while waiting for the hot water, toothbrush in mouth, I went to the kitchen, loaded the dishwasher – (cutlery upside down!)… prepared Phoebe’s meds (thoroughly mixed with wet food)… gathered scattered newspapers… put dinner in the oven… dripping toothpaste on the stairs, I carried the newspapers to the recycling bin in the chilly garage (where the freezer is located) and remembered to remove the prime rib. It was at this precise moment that the garage door opened and the headlights of Sue’s Toyota illuminated my rawness – our respective eyes wide with surprise, the prime rib held in strategic position and toothbrush dangling from my foaming mouth.

We knew at once that I was not cut out for such responsibility.

Ted Markle, a media industry veteran of more than 30 years, is a keen observer of the humorous side of the human situation. He appears in this space every Monday. You can reach him at ted.markle@tc.tc. – Twitter : @tedmarkle

Recently, Sue and I had to do a sort of role reversal.

While Sue has always worked (part-time over the past many years), her new retail role required a ramping up of hours leading up to the holidays. Working more than full-time, her usual impeccable management of our home was suddenly left to me.

“No prob,” I told her. “How tough could this be?”

I’ve always been comfortable in the kitchen (one of the secrets of being a good cook is an appreciation of good food) but I discovered there is so much more to running a home. (Dishes, for one!)

The most challenging part was the total lack of structure. With no system to follow, I began to fall apart. Sure, Sue left me a list, but there is randomness to getting a house in order that I found overwhelming.

The list was long, detailed and rambling. My mind was clogged after reading her stream of consciousness that included pet routines (dosages, meal preferences and walking routes), recipe ingredients, scrubbing techniques, taking the prime rib out of the freezer, a mini-user guide to our vacuum (it sucks), dishwasher protocol, and passive-aggressive references to my current state of hygiene.

That last part may have been warranted. I don’t know how long it had been since I last showered and shaved, but on her way out, I’m pretty sure that Sue held her breath as she gave me a quick peck on the cheek and a thinly veiled threat regarding the consequences should her list remain incomplete upon her return

I replied with a humorous (I thought so, at least) comment about the chesterfield, bon-bons and watching documentaries on Netflix.

Where to begin?

Jumping on that chesterfield, I glanced again at the list and found it impenetrable. There was no logical place to begin – no sequence of actions to follow. I got up, danced around the periphery, playing a game of snakes and ladders – a whirlwind of incomplete tasks – performed in no logical order.

I soon grew tired and returned to safety of the sofa and Netflix. Phoebe shook her head. I think I heard Squirt (the cat) call me unspeakable names.

In what seemed like no time at all, from my comfortable perch, I glanced up at the clock. I was flabbergasted to see that almost the entire day had flown by.

Panicked, I knew I had mere minutes before Sue came home. I jumped up, ran to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and rubbed my scraggly face. It was time to step up. I undressed, began to brush my teeth and turned on the shower (takes a dreadfully long time to come to temperature). In the spirit of maximum efficiency, while waiting for the hot water, toothbrush in mouth, I went to the kitchen, loaded the dishwasher – (cutlery upside down!)… prepared Phoebe’s meds (thoroughly mixed with wet food)… gathered scattered newspapers… put dinner in the oven… dripping toothpaste on the stairs, I carried the newspapers to the recycling bin in the chilly garage (where the freezer is located) and remembered to remove the prime rib. It was at this precise moment that the garage door opened and the headlights of Sue’s Toyota illuminated my rawness – our respective eyes wide with surprise, the prime rib held in strategic position and toothbrush dangling from my foaming mouth.

We knew at once that I was not cut out for such responsibility.

Ted Markle, a media industry veteran of more than 30 years, is a keen observer of the humorous side of the human situation. He appears in this space every Monday. You can reach him at ted.markle@tc.tc. – Twitter : @tedmarkle

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