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The Housewife Handbook

December 30, 2009

I knew I was in trouble one evening when I was sitting peacefully in the White house den, watching a ball game with my to-be in-laws and Duane, and suddenly Anne jumped up, grabbed Dan’s glass of near-empty drink, and dashed into the kitchen. I looked around, mystified. Dan and Duane went on watching the game placidly. For the life of me, I couldn’t recall Dan asking Anne if she would mind getting up and pouring him more drink.

Then I remembered a little tinkling sound–ice hitting the sides of a glass as it was shaken gently back and forth. Anne returned with Dan’s drink, settled herself in her chair, and resumed her stitching. Horror blossomed within me. It was then that I caught Duane’s eye, and the little smirk lurking around his lips. I narrowed my eyes.

We had a conversation a little later. “I hope you don’t think that when we get married all you have to do is rattle your ice cubes and I’m just going to shake my tail-feathers,” I told him (or something to that effect–it has been close to fifteen years by now).

He grinned at me. “Of course I do. It’s in the Housewives’ Handbook. Rule #14.” I just shook my head. I guessed he’d figure it out as time went on.

Since marrying into the White family a whopping fourteen years ago, I have been plagued with tongue-in-cheek reminders about “that Housewife Handbook.” You know the one–the one that tells you how to behave in a seemly wifely fashion. The one that says supper should always be on the table at five-thirty sharp. The one that says Rice Krispy treats should always be ready and waiting on the counter, and the vacuum should never interrupt the four-thirty nap. The one that says it’s really the wife’s responsibility to change the stinky diapers.  The one that says clothes should be pressed and wrinkle-free, and sheets should be (gasp!) ironed and sweet-smelling.

Actually, I’ve managed to (re)train Duane fairly well. He has shaken off the shackles of his youth and copes very well with our frenzied family schedule–much better than his father every would have–and manages to consume seven p.m. take-out with grace and dignity. When the laundry piles up, as it often does, he roots through it for clean underwear with only the occasional grumble. When, after fifteen years, the rattle and clink of ice cubes still fails to yield a shaken tail feather, he merely looks at me and says, “you know, I got up last time when you needed a refill and wanted some Oreos. In the interest of fairness?”

He appreciates that there are occasionally Rice Krispy treats on the counter and that I do iron a shirt when he needs it in thirty minutes.

There are some things, though, that are just beyond my meager Housewife limits. Please refer to the article below, which I’m pretty sure is the source of the dread White Family Housewife Handbook. Let’s look at these rules for a happy home together.

  1. Planning the meal–part of the warm welcome. Ahem. I actually plan a meal once a year, and that’s Christmas. The other 364 days, it’s spaghetti, what-can-I-throw-in-a-crock-pot-and-not-kill-us-all, frozen pizza, or myriad and assorted take-outs. All though I am getting better, because I am sort of determined not to let Autumn’s tumbling schedule clog my arteries too terribly.
  2. Primp. BaHAHAHAHAHAHAHa. He’s just going to rush home and A) either take a nap or B) put on his hunting clothes and go kill something. Besides, I’m naturally beautiful. I look great in my pajamas.
  3. Be a little gay and interesting? “So, what did you do today, wife of mine?” “Well, I cleaned the three toilets, husband, and I did some grocery shopping. While I was there, I was greeted with, “Hi, welcome to Food Lion. Did you know that bags of white potatoes are on sale? Buy one get one free? Yeah, I thought that was thrilling, too. (insert tinkling laugh) You ready for that nap yet?”
  4. Clear clutter. Well, this is usually done, but the sad part is that it’s all back on the floor/table/couch/counter within five seconds of being cleared. Can we say USELESS?
  5. Considering homework takes all freaking night, clearing away this stuff is not a good idea.
  6. Hmm. Come on baby, light my fire. Will consider.
  7. Prepare our little treasures. Wash them. Quiet them. BaHAHAHAHA. I just wish we had enough for a receiving line or something, to greet him affectionately at the door. “Hello, there, Father!”
  8. Listen. This I can do. For a while, anyway. Then the overwhelming urge to talk will get to me.
  9. Considering his “other places of entertainment” would probably be the woods behind our house, I won’t complain. Knock yourself out.
  10. I actually agree with this.
  11. And this.
  12. And this.
  13. He can get his own drink; he has legs. 😉
  14. Speak in a low and pleasant voice…arrange his pillow…what are we–nurse and patient?
  15. Don’t question…
  16. A good wife knows her place…

Whew. I really don’t want to touch these last two, because as some of you may know, Proverbs says quite a bit about contentious women and how it’s better for a man to actually dwell on the corner of a roof than to live with one. It does actually make life, and marriage, much more pleasant when you cater a little to that male ego–build it up, let it be as it was intended instead of constantly breaking it down with second guessing, nagging, doubting, etc. I’ve learned that over the last fifteen years. It’s not a weakness to do so (although feminists will argue)–it’s actually a very subtle feminine power endowed by You Know Who.

Yup, by dog. There’s more than one way to pluck a buzzard. This good wife knows her place.

1955 Housekeeping Monthly article.


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8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2009 2:36 pm

    my heck…i saw this about…2 years ago..for the first time…guess what i did? i didn’t say a word to anyone. i made dinner. i fed the kids. i cleaned up everything i could in an hour. i made the kids sit and watch a movie just about when paul was getting home. before he got home i got seriously dressed up..high high heels and everything…lots of leg…set his place at the table and had his dinner on his plate just as he walked in the door. i stood at the top of the stairs and greeted him with a gushing sexy enthusiastic “Hello Dear, how was your day????” kiss kiss kiss. He laughed his guts out. He knew something was very wrong. I had a copy of this article sitting by his plate. what a great memory! 🙂 it never happened again…..just wanted him to know what he was missing….and know that he was born too late…..BWAAAHAAAHAAAHAAA!!!!!

  2. December 30, 2009 2:56 pm

    I saw this article several months ago and about laughed myself silly. Tears are still streaming down my face I’ve been laughing so hard since.

    In 1955, my marriage would have been in so much trouble……there’s a reason I was born in this day and age when Mac. and Cheese is considered a dairy and ketchup a vegetable!

  3. Super Sarah permalink
    December 30, 2009 10:41 pm

    What I’ve wanted to say the past couple of times is this:

    Dear Lori,

    Please stop blogging. I can’t stop reading and my children are dirty and my husband is hungry and the dogs wont’ stop barking because THEY are hungry too. Your blog is FUNNY!! Thanks for sharing. When I used blogger I had the same template.

    Oh, and your kids are cute, and you didn’t even have to ask!!

  4. Lori permalink*
    December 30, 2009 11:14 pm

    Misty–oh, jeezy–that’s a classic. I’m sure Duane’ll read this comment and know right off the bat, but I’m going to have to do this one evening, just to see the reaction. He’ll probably think I want a new car or something. I even have the perfect June Cleaver dress. I just don’t think I can carry off the straight face…

  5. Lori permalink*
    December 30, 2009 11:16 pm

    Rach–I’ve actually had a draft of this post sitting here for…oh…six months or more, and I just haven’t gotten around to finishing it. None other than my darling spouse sent me the original email with the article, and I laughed my butt off. I would have been on every medication known to man in 1955…or at the very least a serious guzzler, I believe. I at the very least understand womens’ fascination with soap operas.

  6. Lori permalink*
    December 30, 2009 11:20 pm

    Sarah–you’re so Super. Thanks for that lovely compliment. I love nothing more than to create perpetual states of chaos in other people’s homes 😉 If it makes you feel any better, I’ve sort of been stalking your blog since I found it…didn’t get a thing done this morning. I was sooooooo lazy.

    And I can’t take too much credit for those creatures….I carried them for nine (or something like that) months, but they somehow managed to scoot out looking like their father. There is no justice, I’m telling you. No justice at all.

  7. January 7, 2010 7:39 am

    Rule 4….clutter reappears usually at the man’s hand…at least that’s how it is in my house:)

  8. Lori permalink*
    January 7, 2010 10:46 am

    Oh, Carrie–you know that’s the truth. Duane starts leaving a trail the moment he walks in the door…

    The kids run a close 2nd, though.

    Me? I am clutter-less. 😉

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