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JACK SMITH

Human Relations Not by the Book

October 03, 1994|JACK SMITH

Michele Yepiz, a reader in Lemon Grove, sends my wife what she asserts is the actual text of an article published in a home economics guide for women in Ontario, Canada, in the 1950s. (She told my wife not to show it to me, but I'm devious.)

It is preposterous, yet it shows how far women have emerged from domestic bondage in only 45 years. Or have they?

It is Neanderthalian, except that Neanderthals did not have such modern artifacts as lipstick and washing machines.

It is a list of ways in which "the fascinating woman" can welcome her mate when he comes home from work. It assumes, of course, that the male works outside the home and comes home tired and in need of comfort.

Rule 1: Have dinner ready, because the man will be, before all else, hungry.

But in real life it goes like this:

Man: "What's for dinner?"

Wife: "I've been too busy. I'll have to go down to the store and get a microwave."

Rule 2: "Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Put on some lipstick."

She: "Where will I get 15 minutes?"

Rule 3: "Clear away the clutter."

It would take two weeks to clear away the clutter in our house.

Rule 4: "Prepare the children."

How do you do that? Handcuff them?

Rule 5: "Minimize all noise. Eliminate noise of washer, dryer, dishwasher or vacuum."

How will he know you've been working?

Rule 5: "Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and act glad to see him."

He: "What's your problem?"

Rule 6: Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom.

He: "I don't want to lie down. I want a vodka tonic."

Rule 7: "Listen to him. Let him talk first; then he will be a more responsive listener later."

He: "I got nothing to say. It was hell today."

Rule 8: "Make the evening his. Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and to relax."

He: "What's for dinner?"

She: "I'll have to go down to the store for a microwave."

He: "Why don't we go out to dinner?"

She: "I haven't a thing to wear."

He: "Well how about a vodka tonic?"

She: "We're out of vodka."

He: "What the hell have you been doing all day?"

Yepiz is a home economics graduate and she recommends, "First, do not let your husband or significant other read this test. Second, if you follow any of these suggestions, he will think you have been ovening (Canadian for cooking) with the cooking sherry or you have been in your supply of Prozac. Also, I suggest that after you read this you burn it and not your bra. Instead, buy one of those cleavage enhancing brassieres and make him wonder how you really spent your day. There is nothing wrong with a greeting of 'Are you home already?' "

Of course in our household the roles are reversed. My wife works outside and I am home all day, alone. She usually gets home well beyond the cocktail hour.

Perhaps I should try to make her feel relaxed and glad to be home.

He: "What kept you so late. I missed you."

She: "I had to work late and the traffic was terrible."

He: "Why don't you lie down for a while?"

She: "I've got too much to do. The papers are all over the house. I have the laundry to do and I have to mop the kitchen floor. I also have to go through the mail and pay the bills. I also have to straighten your bed and pick your clothes up off the floor. I also have to prepare your medicine."

He: "What're you going to do after that?"

She: "Crash, I hope."

He: "What about dinner?

She: "How about a baked potato? That's all we have."

He: "What about my fix"

She: "I forgot. We're out of vodka."

Things can't get any worse than that for a man who's left home alone.

I have a few suggestions for wives in this position. Try to make him feel that you're glad to see him. Ask him if he needs anything. Check the TV log to see if there are any football games on the tube. Ask him whether he wants Mexican or pasta microwave for dinner.

Make him a vodka tonic.

Come to think of it, make it a double.

* Jack Smith's column is published Mondays.

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