When he gets ready for work, Jim Therres puts on a formal black tuxedo and a red bow tie. Then he picks a white mop, yellow feather duster and a single white carnation, and goes off to work.
For Jim Therres is a Manly Maid.
Manly Maids are a couple of really cute guys with muscles who will clean your house -- and look good at the same time. For a price -- which varies depending on the size of the job and the condition of the house -- they will do everything from dusting to cleaning out the oven. And, yes, the Manly Maids do do windows.
It was an idea that was bound to happen.
"I clean my own house. I love cleaning houses," says Mr. Therres, 35, a former construction worker who admits to getting razzed sometimes by Manly Non-Maid buddies.
Doreen Therres agrees that her husband was a natural for the job.
"Jim does everything around our house but laundry," says Mrs. Therres, 35.
She doesn't mind her husband's flexing a little muscle while he pushes the mop around at some other's woman home. That's because it was her idea to start the Manly Maids business.
"I got the idea from watching a lot of talk shows," says Mrs. Therres, a photographer.
It bothered her, she says, that "everything is so directed toward men -- it's things like bare-breasted women or strippers. Nothing is directed toward us [women]. I was feeling a little cheated."
Besides, Mrs. Therres says, the lackluster economy being what it is, her husband hasn't been able to land too many construction jobs lately.
So she and her husband kicked the idea around for a while before deciding to launch the business in May out of their Edgewood home. "Basically, he couldn't get a job and after a couple of months, I said, 'Let's do it!' "
And they did.
The couple currently employs one other Manly Maid, but they hope the business will grow.
Mr. Therres has done housework for Peggy Cecchine several times at her big four-bedroom house in Havre de Grace.
Mrs. Cecchine says she was "real impressed" when she heard of Manly Maids, so she decided to give it a try.
"I was impressed that these guys were willing to come here and work," she says. They do a good job, she says, and the fact that they are good-looking guys with well-toned bodies doesn't hurt, either.
"It is fun having them come in," Mrs. Cecchine says.
Judee Hager is another pleased customer, although employing a Manly Maid was really her 22-year-old daughter's idea.
Ms. Hager was mulling over whether to get someone to clean her Bel Air home when her daughter spotted an ad for Manly Maids in a community newspaper. "My daughter said, 'Here, Mom. Why don't you try this?' " she said.
In the beginning, Ms. Hager was a little apprehensive when a man, all decked out in a tuxedo and carrying a carnation, appeared at the front door to clean her home.
"Being middle-aged and almost a grandmother, I was a little uncomfortable at first," she says. "I wasn't used to having a man do my housework."
But the Manly Maid's easy manner soon put her at ease. "He is fantastic," she says.
Mrs. Therres says her husband's has always been good at "charming women" as well as good at housework.
And the notion of any man doing housework for women is "such sweet revenge," according to a flier being circulated by the couple.
The fliers tout the maids as "easy on the eye and easy on the pocketbook." And, they add: "They don't dance, they dust!"
But that doesn't mean that "easy on the eye" means risque. The most skin a Manly Maid will show is when he takes off his tuxedo jacket and cleans house in a black muscle shirt.
Mr. Therres says no client has "seriously" flirted with him. "Even if they did, I'm a married man," he adds.
Mrs. Therres says the business "is a total class act," but admits that it is also "sort of a female chauvinist thing."
She is considering theme dressing, wherein the men might come outfitted as, say, cowboys or construction workers.
Be it cowboy, construction worker or a tuxedoed gent, when all is said and done, the Manly Maids still must do a good cleaning job, customers say.
"My instructions to him were to look around to see what needs to be done and clean it as if it were your own house," Ms. Hager says. "He did an excellent job."
Mr. Therres, the original Manly Maid, still finds time to do most of the housework at home. And, he says, he does not plan to return to the construction business.
"This is it," he says. "We are going to make it work."