Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There is a Response!

(For this article to make sense one needs to first read the article, by my husband, titled “Domestic Relations 101 – the Handy Man” on his blog at

It is with tongue-in-cheek that I take up my “pen” (i.e. laptop) to defend that most maligned segment of local society known as the fairer sex (aka Feminus Domesticus). This is in response, of course, to the heretofore-unanswered newspaper article written by my distinguished colleague (and husband) Randy Kilbourne. Everyone else may be hesitant to respond – but not me!

Gals, if ever there was a time to stand up and make a difference – it is now! We cannot allow this banter to continue in print without some effort to modify the seemingly ingenuous attack on our credibility. Are we the devious manipulators that the writer hints at or are we firmly within our rights as citizens of the same households as our spouses, to request some level of consideration in regard to home improvements?

Clearly, all home improvements should not be only in the area of the home or yard reserved solely for the benefit of the husband, as in the following examples of male pattern of thinking: “the tool shed needs a new roof”; “my woodworking shop needs some more shelving”; “I need some decking for that new smoker I ordered”; or even better, “I could use a few more feet of space, in the den, for my new wall to wall TV”.

Now, in saying all of that, I need to explain that I have in fact been encouraged, by several of my husband’s coffee shop cronies, to write my own articles depicting the often-discussed antics of Alva’s beloved Coffee Shop Philosopher, but that is for another time. Today I must respond to the unfavorable treatment, in print, of wives who desire a bit of home improvement.

She comes home from a long day out, tired, feet and back aching, on the verge of a headache, and what does she find? Her beloved, who arrived home first, firmly ensconced in front of the massive HD-TV and on the verge of another evening of whatever professional or collegiate sport is in season, with the occasional bounce between the History, Discovery and Military channels. (Let’s see, what will it be this evening? Gridiron glory, hoops glory, historical errors in judgment that could have been averted by anyone in this generation, charting the hitherto unknown, or blasting away at the enemies of our past?)

Realizing that supper preparations by the master of the house would intrude upon this serious conquest, she goes to the kitchen to try and salvage some portion of last nights TV snacks and turn them into a seven-course banquet.

Opening the cupboard to retrieve a mixing bowl she finds herself having to hold the cupboard door, which is hanging by one last un-repaired hinge, as she fumbles through the bowls in the limited shelf space, only to find the desired dish on the bottom of the stack. (Why is the desired item always on the bottom?)

Following the medical rule of ‘first do no harm’ she places the bowl on a carefully chosen spot, avoiding the cracks and stains on the countertop, and proceeds to the simple task of finding a spoon to stir whatever ingredients will soon be added to the bowl.

Reaching for the said utensil, she hesitates and chides herself, once again, for moving that often-used item to the drawer where only four screw holes remain to show where the handles used to be. She is not looking forward to the broken fingernail or possibly skinned fingertip that accompanies trying to lift the drawer open by catching it under the frame, that is now no longer solidly glued to the drawer.

That task accomplished, without harm this time, she crosses the kitchen to the antiquated pantry that sits at the far corner of the kitchen and which is barely large enough to hold just some of the grocery purchases for the month. The one door in the house that she can count on to open easily, and which is perfectly balanced, hides five shelves that are not considered horizontally correct even by the youngest of the grandchildren. “MiMi, why doesn’t the cocoa box stay on the shelf?” Or better yet: “MiMi, why does the can of pears fit on this end of the shelf but not on the other end?”

You get the picture. Down she goes to the master bedroom. Throwing on some freshly laundered, feminine apparel, freshening up her makeup and adding another spray of Gloria Vanderbilt, she returns to the living room. Awaiting the exact moment of a pending touchdown, she walks in front of the HD TV and chirps, “Darling, why don’t we order pizza for the big game this evening?”

“Sure, whatever you’d like,” he replies, craning his neck at a hideous angle so as not to miss the gridiron action.

“By the way,” she continues, “Have I told you lately how proud I am of you for all that you provide for us? But, I was wondering…”

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