This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
Yesterday, my day off when I take care of Will, I was watching a movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn called “The Break Up.” It was a decent movie and it dealt with the ridiculousness of an up-and-down relationship and the differences between men and women and how they think. But one exchange really struck me as honest and very funny.
At the start of the movie, he comes home and drops off some lemons on the table because she had asked him to pick up “some lemons.” So brought home three, thinking that was a good number. She flips out because she wanted 12 lemons. He asks her why she needed a dozen lemons and she responded by saying she wanted to make a 12-lemon centerpiece for a dinner party that evening. I laughed hysterically when he replies with “So no one’s even going to eat these lemons? You’re suggesting to me these are just SHOW lemons?”
But things get worse from there. When she asks him to help out and set the table he says he just got home from work and wants to unwind before everyone comes over. Even though most guys would say that’s a reasonable request, I know women hate that. So back and forth they go, arguing about this and that, and the verbal sparring carries all the way after the dinner. She wants him to help clean up and he just wants to leave it until tomorrow. Again, something I can relate to. I mean why do they have to be done right then? Why not chill out, relax and do it the next day?
But then came the part that really hit home.
He’s been yelled at to do the dishes. He didn’t want to, but eventually he gave in and grudgingly said he’d do them. But then, she says to forget it! Then came the following exchange, which is really at the heart of everything:
“I don’t want you to do the dishes, I want you to WANT to do the dishes.”
“Why in the hell would I WANT to do the dishes?”
And there it is. Bingo. Laid out in the simplest of terms, that is the difference between men and women. You see it’s not just good enough that men do the dishes. No no no. Women want us to want to do them. They want us to look forward to participating in tedious chores. But I agree with Vince Vaughn. What guy out there comes home and says “Oh yippee!!! I get to help with the dishes! Happy day!!”
Doing the dishes sucks. I hate the dishes almost as much as I hate doing laundry. It is not fun and I don’t want to do it. I do it because I have to or else my wife will be mad at me. And if it were up to me, the dishes would sit in the sink for days until I was ready to do them. But MJ is Type A and has to have everything done when she wants it done. And if I dare grimace or roll my eyes when she asks me to do these chores, we’re in for WW III.
Well ladies, I’m here to tell you that we’ll never want to do the dishes, laundry, scrub the floors, etc. We will do it because it’s not fair to lay it all on one person, but why should we be happy about it? We don’t care if you grumble about it, why do we get in trouble for being pissed off about chores? Chores are work, and we just got home from work. We understand they need to be done, but you need to understand that we’d like some time to retreat into our metaphorical caves, unwind and then come out and do housework. And frankly I don’t think that’s too much ask. I do think it’s ridiculous that women aren’t satisfied with the work getting done, but instead expect us to hop to it with verve and gusto.
Being a married couple — and definitely being parents — is a constant game of give and take. In this instance, men are giving by doing the chores and women need to give by allowing us to grumble about it under our breath while we do them. Just like we give in to your irrational need to get everything clean all at once immediately following a dinner. And I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but I think it’s a Mom’s world out there and as fathers, we’re just merely living in it and trying to survive.
There’s “mother’s intuition” but no one’s every heard of “father’s intuition.” Mother’s Day is FAR more celebrated than Father’s Day a month later. If you want a book on parenting there are roughly 1,349,485 titles out there for mothers. Dads have approximately 14 books from which to choose. And when we do speak our minds (on forums such as BABYCENTER for instance), we are met with a multitude of snide comments and viewed as an annoyance.
So in response and rebellion, here are a list of changes I’d make if dads did indeed rule the world:
1) A mandatory 30 minute rule will go into effect when the father gets home from work. He cannot be bothered during those 30 minutes except to eat dinner. It is vital that there is NO NAGGING whatsoever during what I’m calling “Cave Time.” When the 30 minutes expires, fathers will be expected to perform their designated household duties.
2) When listing out chores, mothers must be very specific. For instance, you can’t just say “take the trash out.” Because of our literal nature, guys will remove the trash from the bin and throw it away. But we will not take the big bag of diapers next to the trash bin, because you didn’t specify that part. In fact, let’s put everything in writing just to be safe.
3) Upon the completion of even the most simple and basic chore, women will now be required to treat us as though we just performed the most unbelievable and wonderful act the world has ever known. Confetti parades are optional, but we’re not cleaning up the mess.
4) Sitting on the couch with our hands down our pants will no longer be considered “gross,” “rude” or “inappropriate.” Instead, women will actually find this sexy and appealing and will praise us for it.
5) The frequency of “sandwich eating” will be based on a merit system. There will be point values assigned to things like household tasks, waking up for the midnight feeding, etc. At the end of each week, we will total up those points and determine how many “sandwiches” we’ve earned over the course of the week. All “sandwiches” must be collected within one week of earning them. Other “sandwich related activities” can be substituted for the actual consumption of sandwiches when applicable.
6) Once a month we are entitled to a “Get Out of a Visit with Your In-Laws” card. This rule depends on how often you see said in-laws as well as geographical proximity.
7) For every Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls, Project Runway, The Bachelor, Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill and every other girly show episode we’re subjected to, we get to watch something of equivalent masculine value. Reservoir Dogs, Braveheart, Red Sox and Patriots games and anything else we want to watch cannot be overruled if we have sat through mindless, estrogen-laden crap.
8) If we have followed all the rules and garnered enough points, we get at least one night a month to go out with our friends on an overnight excursion to get absolutely obliterated and devolve to how we were in our college years.
9) All fathers have boys. Sure that would decimate the population of our planet, but isn’t that better than worrying about your daughter constantly? And if you do have a girl, someone needs to come up with technology that acts as an invisible shield of death that covers her girlie parts as soon as she hits puberty. Those are the only circumstances I can see myself successfully raising a future daughter without jumping off a bridge.
So those are the new rules. Feel free to add your own and even though it should be painfully obvious, the aforementioned list was written with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. Enjoy the new Daddy World!