While the cat’s away, don’t expect the mice to keep house 4

My wife recently went out of town for a week to attend a writers’ retreat. That meant that for seven days I was entirely on my own, without the domesticating influence of a female. It also means I was without anyone to help with the quotidian household chores that seem to multiply like roaches (OK, poor choice of similes there).

I’m not a total slob but I am a guy – and as someone correctly noted, guys are basically just bears with furniture. Despite that, I thought I had done a pretty good job keeping up with the place in my wife’s absence but I got the distinct impression that my standards and hers are at odds.

This was underlined when I heard my wife discussing with a girlfriend the state of the house upon her return. I didn’t actually hear the question that prompted this response, but I didn’t need to. All I needed to hear was, “The house? It was … habitable.”

Habitable? That’s an adjective you’re more likely to hear in reference to a house that survived Hurricane Katrina, or used to describe a Ukrainian village downwind from Chernobyl. But it’s definitely not one you want to hear when your wife is discussing your housekeeping skills.

Surprised and disappointed to get such poor marks, I quickly reviewed the evidence. Since there are only three areas in which I could have seriously dropped the ball – washing the dishes, cleaning the house, and doing the laundry – I figured it would be easy to prove that my wife’s slight was uncalled for.

The dishes I used had been washed – or most of them had. Well, one of them had for sure; I know, because I had eaten a frozen lasagna off of it, and I rinsed it off so I could eat a piece of pie. OK, two pieces of pie – and some ice cream. Sure, I left the lawnmower carburetor in the sink (long story, but I was trying to fix it), but that’s not nearly as bad as tossing my sweaty gym clothes on her side of the bed (if the volume of eye-rolling and dire muttering is any indication). Anyway, I think I can safely rule out the dish-washing factor.

How about my tidying up? We have a very nice Persian rug in our living room – of which my wife is very fond — and I was extremely careful not to disturb the protective layer of dog hair and sandwich crumbs that had descended upon it in her absence. So, cleaning is clearly not it.

Could it have been the laundry? (Note to fellow guys: your wife’s not just being a smarty-pants — it really doesn’t do itself) And who knew that “Dry Clean Only” means exactly that? Anyway, knowing how my wife enjoys folding (she spends hours each week on this chore, so I assume she’s crazy about it) I left a small mountain of clothes just for her. So, I think I can discount laundry as the cause of her less than stellar review.

So, that’s my case. Maybe I’m clueless but I think that the facts clearly show that my wife’s ire was totally off-base – or at least it was until she finds out I pruned some of favorite her flowers with the lawnmower. And while I’m thinking of it, does anyone know how to get rose petals outs of a carburetor?


  1. Oh geez, this post sounds like my husband could have written it, except for the dog hair, because we don’t have any dogs anymore. I was gone for only three weeks and the place was a real mess when I returned, except for the dishes. He said it took him hours to do them because each and every dish was dirty, leaving him no choice and since I was on my way home… Love ya Jeff, keep up the good posts.

  2. omg my husband mows down my flowers every chance he gets!!! he even mowed over the wire flower bed dividers I’d placed in their defense! verrry funny

  3. Don’t you guys have a dishwasher? I think that was where you slipped up. Everybody knows a lawnmower carburetor isn’t really clean until it’s gone through at least one power-scrub cycle followed by a long spot-free air drying cycle. Putting the carb in the dishwasher instead of the sink also leaves a zesty gasoline aroma on the dishes for many loads thereafter. Don’t beat yourself up — just a rookie mistake.

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