When it comes to housework, my wife has it maid. And she is not too proud to say that the maid is her husband.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have a little French maid’s dress, which I would happily wear except I can’t find one in my size and I’d probably fall down while vacuuming in high heels, but I am one step up from being a domestic worker.
I am, according to my wife, a houseboy.
“That’s your title,” said Sue, who has told countless people of my new role in the family hierarchy.
To which our younger daughter, Lauren, commented: “It’s better than being a pool boy.”
If I were, I’d have to be a kiddie pool boy, because that is where Lauren’s young daughters, Chloe and Lilly, like to frolic. Besides, on a maid’s salary, which amounts to exactly zero, it’s the only kind of pool I can afford.
Still, for the first four-plus decades of my marriage, I had been practically useless around the house. But ever since I retired several months ago, and especially now, during the quarantine, when Sue could see how good a job I do, I have aspired to be a centerfold in Good Housekeeping.
As I have told Sue, “A husband’s work is never done.”
And it takes a lot of it to keep our humble abode clean enough to pass the white glove test. Unfortunately, I don’t have a pair of white gloves, which would get ruined in the toilet anyway, so I use rubber ones. They keep my delicate hands smooth and young-looking.
Speaking of the toilet, I am flush with excitement to say that the bathroom is where I shine. Since the Ty-D-Bol man is no longer with us, I have taken his place, though I can’t fit a motor boat in the porcelain convenience. A good thing, too, because otherwise I’d go down the tubes.
Nonetheless, I do a sparkling job, if I do say so myself. Sue has said it as well, especially after I injured my back while bending down to clean the floor behind the toilet.
She wasn’t so happy when I used what I thought was an old toothbrush to scrub the chrome faucet on the sink.
“That was my new one!” Sue protested.
“Sorry,” I apologized. “Want to use mine?”
“No!” she shot back.
At least Sue never complains about my vacuuming, which leaves our carpets and rugs free of dirt, lint and whatever else gathers underfoot. Speaking of feet, I once caught my big toe in the vacuum cleaner while wearing flip-flops. Now I make sure to don heavier footwear.
Sue also likes how I dust, especially when I use the dusting wand to reach high places, where I don’t have friends but do have bookshelves and ceiling-fan blades.
“Let’s not get into a dust-up,” I once said.
“If you don’t watch out,” Sue replied, “unto dust you shall return.”
I sweep the kitchen floor (and try to sweep Sue off her feet), wash the dishes (dishes my life), iron clothes (I am, after all, a member of the press), clean windows (it’s a pane in the neck) and do just about everything else except laundry. That’s because Sue doesn’t trust me. She thinks I’ll either flood the place or break the washing machine.
“Life is a vicious cycle,” I told her.
“Pick up your dirty socks and underwear,” she said.
“Too bad I don’t have a little French maid’s dress,” I said. “You’d have to wash that, too.”
“If you clean the house, it’ll be worth it,” Sue said.
“I’ll go shopping for one tomorrow,” I said. “I hope there’s a sale on fishnet stockings.”
— Jerry Zezima
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, which includes his hometown paper, the Stamford Advocate. His column is distributed by Tribune News Service of Chicago and has run in newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of four books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows Best and Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.