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Last Night's Dinner, or Why I Need a Wife

4 years ago
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You know when you read something and it really doesn't resonate right at the moment? But then -- I don't know -- an hour later . . . maybe a day . . . maybe even a week later, you think: "Ah, yes! Precisely!"


I had one of those experiences the other day after reading Sandra Tsing Loh's hilarious and spot-on reaction in the New York Times to the recent Pew Study about marriage, education and income that Frankie flagged for us last week.

Loh's basic argument is that with the rise of so-called companionate marriage -- in which both partners try to work, co-parent, and contribute equally to household chores -- everyone ends up exhausted, delivering an at best mediocre performance on all of the above.

Her conclusion: we all need a wife.

I read that article on Monday morning but it wasn't until Monday evening that the depth of its wisdom sunk in. After a day of writing, I ended up having an unusually "juggly" evening, which included a playdate for my daughter at my house, a late pick-up at chess club for my son, a quick trip to the pharmacy to pick up medicine for my son's oral thrush infection (Don't Google that . . . trust me), a hurried attempt at dinner, baths, homework and (of course) the requisite violin practice, and then back to the computer for more work once the kids went to sleep. Nothing hugely awful in that day, mind you. But somewhere in there, I forgot to make it to the supermarket for food.

So by the time my husband -- who was working late -- got home for dinner, here's what we ate: cold pasta covered with leftover Tikka Masala sauce (tomato sauce inexplicably AWOL in kitchen cupboard), some soggy carrots cooked four hours earlier for kids' dinner, and the coup de grace: canned sardines. Yum.

My husband, without the least trace of hostility, observed matter-of-factly: "This is quite possibly the worst meal we've ever eaten." After 16 and a half years living together, that was saying something.

And it was at that point that I concluded -- much like my colleague Christine Wicker: Yup, I need a wife.

So in the spirit of the ever-prescient Ms. Loh -- to whom I remain eternally indebted -- here are five things I'd have my imaginary wife do:

1. Cooking -- I think the above vignette pretty much says it all on this one, don't you?

2. Ironing -- Although I have friends who over fret over their inability to ever surmount the never-ending pile of ironing, I've mastered that particular hurdle by just not ironing at all. The one time I did attempt it -- I think my son was in a play or something -- I had to a) borrow an ironing board from a friend b) iron a shirt during a PTA meeting at said friend's home and c) be literally laughed out of the room by fellow PTA members for my ironing "technique." Wifey?

3. Dishwashing -- Our dishwasher died about a month ago and we're still waiting for our landlord to replace it. While I wait, I've been re-acquainted with that dying art of washing dishes by hand. Hey, don't get me wrong. I think there's a lot to be said for that whole "washing dishes builds character" thing. But remember that I live in the United Kingdom, where -- despite being the country that invented the Industrial Revolution -- they still use separate taps for hot and cold water. Which means that every time you turn on your faucet, your hands are blasted by alternate bursts of freezing cold and scalding hot water. The fun never stops.

4. Buying Clothes -- I've never been all that much of a shopper. And even if I did like buying clothes, I'm lousy at figuring out what goes with what. For awhile I got by on that whole "seasons" thing. I was told that I was "winter" and should concentrate on charcoal, pale blues and soft pinks. But according to one of my more fashionable friends, seasons are out. These days it's all about tone: Deep/Light, Warm/Cool, and Bright/Muted. I'm sorry. But I have no idea if I'm cool and bright or deep and muted. And I'd love my wife to just figure that out for once and for all.

5. Modeling Lingerie -- Finally -- and since we're among friends here -- I'd also like my new wife to try on my lingerie and report back as to what works. At least in my neck of the woods -- e.g. London -- buying a bra requires a commitment of time, focus and money worthy of a week-long yoga retreat. And hey, I'm one of those well-educated, modern ladies who really needs to make a buck . . . ya know, so my poor husband can eat something more than canned sardines. Time is money, ladies. Time is money.
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Filed Under: Woman Up

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