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Stress Management: Can I Rent a Wife?

5 years ago
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LONDON -- My colleague Joann Weiner recently wrote a post for this site in which she described the blissful, stress-free summer week she just enjoyed in Washington, D.C., while her family was out of town. She exercised . . . she went out to dinner . . . she tried beer ice cream . . . she even -- gasp -- took time to smell the proverbial flowers.

I'm happy for Jo. Truly I am. It's just that after I read her post, I took one look at the way I've spent the last seven days and thought: What's wrong with this picture?

You see, I'm having a different sort of week. I call it a "Calgon" week.

Don't remember Calgon? Among other things, it's a line of bath and beauty products. When I was a kid, there was this marvelous commercial in which this harried housewife in a pink bathrobe stood in the middle of her kitchen overwhelmed by various demands: the kids . . . the dishes . . . the dinner . . . the telephone. She'd throw up her hands and shriek: "Calgon! Take Me Away!" and, presto! She was magically whisked into a soothing bubble bath.

Pink bathrobe notwithstanding, that shrieking lady in the kitchen pretty much captures how I've felt this past week. It's a week that's featured, in no particular order: a major schlep to and from son's camp located in absurdly difficult-to-access section of North London (Remind me, again, why we decided not to get a car?), reduced work time due to said schlep, husband on deadline whose frazzled hair increasingly resembles Albert Einstein's, acute case of hostess anxiety brought on by not having entertained in four years because we lived in a closet, but somehow managing to schedule two events at my new apartment in one week (Should we do Red? White? Fizzy? And what is a tapanade, anyway?). Oh yeah. And did I mention the pink eye that's now making its way through the house?

In and of themselves, none of these things would be terribly burdensome. But having them all befall me simultaneously reminds me of why I often feel like I need a wife. In previous fantasies, my would-be wife would cook the dinner, do my ironing, and buy my bras. After this week, however, I'd like to add the following to her list of duties: schlep children to enriching summer activities, administer eye drops to recalcitrant 6-year-old, and read Martha Stewart for me so that I always have the right napkins for entertaining.

I recently read about a study which demonstrates that women are inherently better at multi-tasking than men. Maybe so. But judging by the week I've had, you'd be hard pressed to make that case.

It doesn't help that I'm currently reading Volume 3 in Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy ("The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest.") Next to Larsson's heroine, Lisbeth Salander -- who may be the original multi-tasker (she does all that late-night computer hacking and makes cheese sandwiches to boot?) -- it's hard not to have an inferiority complex.

Which is perhaps why my curiosity was piqued when I read about the new Rent-A-Friend service that's just made its way to the U.K. this week. For as little as $10 an hour, this service -- which has already been launched in the U.S. and Canada -- lets you scroll through a database to identify a real-life "friend" whom you can hire to accompany you on strictly platonic outings like bowling or seeing a movie. It's explicitly not a dating service. Rather, it's just about hanging out.

But, see, here's what I'm thinking. I've already got loads of friends. I don't need any more of those. What I do need is a wife. So maybe Scott Rosenbaum -- the founder of Rent-A-Friend -- could launch a sister operation. We could call it Rent-A-Wife.

Ten bucks an hour?


And while you're at it, see if Lisbeth Salander is available. I think she'd make a great wife.

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we love mario!!!

How far would rent a wife go? Would sex be included?

July 23 2010 at 9:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You think it's a good idea to have a wife for $10 an hour now... but you neglect to think of the upkeep costs. There will be hours of listening to problems and self-deprecating attention to various physical attributes. In some cases, expensive jewelry and/or operatic events may be involved. Plus, you will probably have to keep things cleaner than you would have otherwise- resulting in a greater time-cost. You may also have to fix things that you would have otherwise left broken, since you barely use them anyways. Admittedly, lots of things will get done and it will be an invaluable service- but one worth $10/hr PLUS the maintenance?

By the time it's all said and done, you could end up spending $10 an hour and use almost as much effort in the wife-upkeep as you were doing with the wife-duties. All told, I'd say not to rent a wife unless you love her. In which case, why are you renting in the first place? ;)

I believe the magic person you are talking about is in fact a combination of three established jobs: a nanny, a maid, and a chauffeur. And if you're not too picky, either one could probably be had for $10 per hour. Just saying. And you won't even have to fix the screen door unless you want to.

July 22 2010 at 10:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to B N's comment

point(s) well taken. thx for the healthy dose of realism!

July 23 2010 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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