Can I be sexist for five minutes and say there are certain jobs in a household that should only be done by a man? I’ve been thinking about this for the past few months and I think I’m ready to go there.
Let me begin by saying, I think I’m somewhat of a progressive housewife. Let me also say I have a very helpful husband. No flies on this guy, girls. He washes dishes, vacuums, makes the bed, the works if I need him to.
But I’ve noticed in myself there are certain things that I simply expect my husband William to do. And by expect I mean there is absolutely no way I am willing to do it myself so will ask, then wait, ask, then wait, for as long as it takes.
One of those jobs?
CLEANING OUT THE CENTRAL VAC CANISTER
If we had a regular vacuum cleaner, this would be the equivalent of replacing the bag. The very idea of seeing the collection of stuff I suck up on a daily basis is repulsive. Then the thought of diving my hands into the mess to pull it all into the trash bag? Yuck.
For an embarrassingly long time, I didn’t even know we had this type of receptacle. I thought the vacuum particles somehow blew into a hole that led outside of the house. It wasn’t until one day that the vacuum stopped working and I mentioned it to my sweet husband. William surfaced from the basement with a cloud of grey dust on his eyebrows and I knew right then that was never going to be me.
This job assignation is completely unfair since the vast majority of the hair that collects in our shower drain? Mine. In fact, when I see a big clot of hair that William has pulled out and put in the garbage can, I am reminded of just how much work it is to be a man. Because for some reason, I just cannot bring myself to do this. I really am partly convinced there is a snake or even a small crocodile living underneath that Brillo pad or at least a whole layer of primordial ooze out of which, at any moment, a new life form is getting ready to climb.
AIR FILTER REPLACEMENT
I feel OK about this one because this has Man Job written all over it. There is a procedure to this with which I am unfamiliar and with which I don’t plan on ever familiarizing myself. In our house, William removes the old filters and takes note of the fact that he last changed them a year ago. He knows this because he writes down the change date on the cardboard portion of the filter, which is cute because the filters are supposed to be changed every three months.
I will admit that those old filters are somewhat of a delight to inspect — look at all the bad stuff they trapped so we didn’t breathe in — but the idea of reaching into the bowels of the house to get them out? Not for this girl.
CHANGING THE FIRE ALARM BATTERY
This particular job stems from the fact that the builders of our home placed the fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in its highest nooks and crannies, which requires not only a significant ladder but artful leaning to gain access.
As a result, I have been known to wait until William gets home from a 12-hour work day even if it means I have to huddle in the basement to not go crazy by the shrill beep that the fire alarm emits every three minutes when the battery is running low. I can say from experience, there are a lot of three-minute increments in 12 hours. But wouldn’t he rather change the battery for me than find me dead or severely fractured because I fell off the ladder and down the stairs in an attempt to take care of it?
BUG KILLING, FLY SWATTING, MOUSE REMOVAL
If I see a bug with an ungodly number of legs and happen to be alone, I will bend over and squish it between an extremely thick wad of toilet paper, but I will squeal, press my knees together and shut my eyes.
But if William is there? Hello, get the Kleenex and make it a quick death, please. In my book, this should go without question if the man of the house has an ounce of chivalry in his blood.
Because that’s part of it, isn’t it? My husband is a gentleman and so willing to care of his wife and daughter. But there’s another element too: probably there were a few hard days when he accepted that if he wanted it done, he was going to have to do it. The fact that the agreement is unspoken, though, fascinates me. I never asked and he never explicitly consented and that’s exactly what makes it so powerful. And so the arrangement will hopefully continue silently for years and I can stop being sexist now.