Ladies, it's all your fault
I could never understand why my granddad was so incompetent around the house. Here was a man who left school at 13 to join a band of river pirates in Glasgow (that’s what he told me, and you never question your granddad). During the war he escaped from a concentration camp after filing down a plastic spoon and stabbing three Nazis (again, his words. Who am I to judge?).
Eventually, after helping an Indian tribe overpower General Custer at Little Bighorn in Edinburgh, he left the UK with my gran and became a successful shipping engineer in Cape Town (that part is true. I think). He did all my woodwork homework, could fix his car with a coat hanger and Pratley Putty, made lawnmowers from scratch and practically rebuilt decrepit ships with his eyes closed (he said he often did that just to make it interesting).
But if my gran was away and you asked him to turn on the microwave for 30 seconds he would collapse in a heap on the kitchen floor, rigid with doubt and crippled with fear over the actual intentions of the modern heating contraption.
Likewise, ask him to change the channel on the M-Net decoder without my gran’s assistance (bear in mind, this was a time when the only choices on the decoder were M-Net and that spare channel) and before you could say “that’s not Loving” he would have rigged up an amplifying antenna on the roof that was picking up soccer footage from the Falkland’s Premier League. “All we wanted was K-tv, granddad” my brother and I would cry. But nope. Too demanding a task without granny on site for assistance.
Even my dad, who was married to the worst housewife in the history of housewifing, had his moments of domestic feebleness - “Mary, where are my pants?”, “Probably where you left them Trevor” was her standard, glib response. (You're a great mom, mom. But you have to admit that the amount of times we ran out of toilet paper qualifies you for “Worst Head of Household, 1979-1997”).
Why men, why?
I could never understand why these fully functioning men, manly men of the world, would break down into dithering wrecks when the ladies were away.
And then Robyn went away on Sunday night, and now it’s all clear to me, like a freshly polished bathroom mirror. Ladies, you’re too good to us. Honestly. You just take too much damn care of the men in your lives, and it’s in our natures to reciprocate by enjoying the attention and slowly but surely become more ineffective around the house.
On Sunday night, my first night without Robyn lurking around in six months, I was at a loss. I could easily have cooked dinner. Instead I ate a packet of plain Provitas. This morning I got up to make coffee, and there was no milk. There’s always milk! How can there be no milk when she’s only been gone for a day? Then I went to the loo, and there was no toilet paper. I had to drive to the gym just for my morning ablutions. Robyn, come back! By Friday I’ll be sleeping in a black bag on the lounge floor, wondering how to turn on the DVD and asking the neighbour to set the microwave.
Before moving in with Robyn, I lived with an equally hopeless friend for eight years. I cooked, I cleaned, I made lunch for work, I made my bed (every fourth week), I even brushed my hair. Now I wake up after Robyn’s gone to work and there’s a lunchbox with all manner of goodies stacked in it (I still can’t find where she hides the sweets in the house). I come home and dinner is on the go, my clothes have been mysteriously packed away - in a cupboard no less - and my shoes are lined up in order of frequency of use. Incredible.
But I just can’t help it. On Saturday I caught myself asking where my pants were. “Probably where you left them” came a familiar reply. Damn you, you highly effective, caring, nurturing women. Damn you...
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