C.W. Gusewelle is away this week. His regular column will return. In the meantime, here is one of his favorites, first published in 1994.
Feminists are always asking why men can’t take on a fairer share of the duties around the house. Why, for instance, can’t men help with the cooking?
I’ll tell you why. It’s because their wives are too big.
We live in a normal-size house, and now, with the children grown and gone for most of the year, there is ample space for the two of us. We are smallish people, my wife and I, and thus are able to pass freely about — up and down stairs and from room to room — without running into one another.
Everywhere except in the kitchen.
It’s a regular sort of kitchen, with counters, appliances, a telephone table and enough floor space for eight or 10 people to stand around comfortably talking, as they sometimes do while waiting for me to pour out their ration of cheer.
But let me go in there planning to cook something and immediately my wife comes in after me and inflates.
In her normal configuration she is only a little more than 5 feet tall and petite as a schoolgirl, and you would not think someone like that could swell up large enough to fill a whole kitchen. It’s an amazing trick, but she does it every time.
If I need to use the tap of the sink, she is there, already using it. There was no indication beforehand that she planned to be working in the kitchen at all, but there she is, blocking my way.
All right, I tell myself. Let her finish whatever she’s doing at the sink. I will just get what I need from the refrigerator.
So I start to turn in the other direction, but she is there too, the refrigerator door already open and positioned so it is impossible to get around her.
Well, I think, at least I can get out a pan from the cupboard so that, if the traffic ever clears, I will be ready to go forward.
That’s hopeless, though. Because by now she has achieved her full expansion, and there is no longer even a dream of making my way to the cupboard.
I really can’t say what accounts for this phenomenon. We are territorial creatures, and it may be that wives — even ones who profess to despise cooking — resent any encroachment on their turf, in the same way certain groups will fight to the death over a scrap of land whose only virtue is that it is theirs.
All I know is that there is no use trying to do any useful work while sharing a kitchen with a wife half again larger than a 1957 Buick.
So at this point, after several violent collisions, I usually let out a little groan and give the whole thing up, withdraw to a chair somewhere and pick up a magazine or newspaper that is sure to contain another article about how much better and fairer the world would be if only men would do their share.
I am all for breaking down the gender barriers.
For example, I am careful not to get in her way, or interfere in any fashion, when my wife is doing the yard work. Did I complain when she took over the traditional male tasks of household repairs, hauling out the trash, cleaning the gutters?
No. Not a murmur. And yet, after all these concessions on my part, the kitchen remains hers.
I say that if society is to evolve in the way the militants want it to, there’s going to have to be a little reciprocal consideration from the other side.