Ok, Husbands, Help Out

TO WIT

November 01, 1992|By DAVE BARRY

Today I want to talk to you husbands about housework, and the importance of helping your wives with . . .

Hold it right there, men. I see you trying to sneak out of this article. Get back in here and listen up:

The International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations, recently did a survey asking women around the world how much help we men give them with the housework. According to the results, most women think we're doing a splendid job.

I'm joking, of course. The women basically said that, in terms of sharing the housework burden, having a man around is like having a 197-pound lint ball permanently bonded to the sofa, operating the TV remote control and periodically generating dirty underwear.

This kind of criticism is nothing new. Somebody is always surveying women about men, and men always come out looking bad. Just once I'd like to see a survey with questions that would tend to put men in a more positive light, such as:

*"Which gender is more likely to demonstrate the patience necessary to teach a small child how to spit?"

*"In the event of an emergency, which gender is more likely to remember -- coolly and calmly -- what position Clarence 'Choo Choo' Coleman played?"

But surveys never ask this type of question. They always ask about female-oriented qualities such as maturity, sensitivity, communication, commitment, etc. -- as if those were the only issues that mattered; as if men did not have unique needs and problems of their own; as if there were no such thing as jock itch.

Just recently my wife and I were in South Miami Beach, sitting at an outdoor cafe with a lovely view of the beach, and directly in front of us, about 25 yards away, was a man clearly experiencing a life-threatening need to scratch himself.

Unfortunately he was in a wide-open area, wearing nothing except a bathing suit. Trying hard to look casual, he lay down sideways, pretending to be relaxing in the sun. He glanced around to see if anybody was watching and then grope, he made a lightning-fast move to ease his discomfort, and then he glanced around again, and then grope, and then another glance, and then grope and then a glance and then he lost control of himself and plunged in frantically with both hands, too absorbed in his task to realize that he had now surpassed the Atlantic Ocean as a local tourist attraction.

I know you men are thinking: "Whoa, I can definitely feel for that guy, so to speak." On the other hand, my wife, a member of the so-called "sensitive" gender, was laughing. But does the International Labor Organization do a survey about this sensitive issue? No, it picks housework, which happens to be a weak point with us men. This is not our fault. We spent millions of years functioning as the food providers in the family, and thus we are more suited to aggressively physical, strenuous, hunter-gatherer types of activities, such as golf.

Plus, on those rare occasions when a man does attempt to help out with some household responsibility, he often discovers that his wife has established a lot of picky, technical rules, and if he doesn't do everything exactly right, he gets corrected, until finally he just gets fed up.

Another problem is that TV commercials for housework-type products are always aimed at women. We need commercials that would make housework appealing to guys. For example, there could be one where a guy opens up his refrigerator and sees . . . the Swedish Bikini Team! Their feet are stuck in the dense brown goo that formed when barbecue sauce spilled onto the hydrator! So the guy grabs some Pine Sol and uses its grease-cutting formula to rescue the team members, who gather around him and express their gratitude by leaning over a lot.

Yes, the advertising industry could definitely be doing a better job. But in the end, men, it's up to you to make more of an effort to help out around the home. At the same time, you women out there need to become more aware of an important fact, and one that is often overlooked amid the endless day-to-day hassles involved in running a household: "Choo Choo" Coleman was a catcher.

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