“You know,” I tell my friend Jessica, “there’s no telling what I could accomplish if only I had a cook, a full-time maid, a cat box-pooper scooper person and a pool guy who would come twice a week.”
While Jess doesn’t have a spouse or pool to clean up after, she sees my point.
“Imagine coming home to a spotless house, the laundry done, dinner on the table and someone there smiling who wants to hear about your day,” I continue.
“Imagine being able to kick back with a book without feeling guilty you’re hiding a family of illegals in your attic,” Jess adds. “Because that’s what it would take to get what you want done.”
“Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?” I argue.
Back when I was a naïve, young girl, I thought the word “wife” was someone you saw only in black and white, like Leave it to Beaver shows. As I grew up, I figured wives were a species on the verge of extinction. Equal rights and modern technology were going to render them as old-fashioned as hand-churned butter and doctors who bled their patients. I wondered if Daughter Mindy would read about wives in books and ask me later if wives were born wearing aprons.
“Maybe women are bolder and wiser now,” I continue, “and we’ve come to realize that maybe the reason it wasn’t Mrs. Columbus who discovered America was because someone had to take care of the folks back home while Mr. Columbus was out gallivanting around the world in his sailing ship.”
“Or maybe it was because Mrs. Columbus was already DEAD!” Jess corrects. “Don’t you remember your history class? And last I heard, the Vikings discovered North America long before Columbus made it over here.”
“I think you’re missing the point,” I say. “Could Levi Strauss have created blue jeans if he had been up every night helping his kids with history lessons? Or would Sir Isaac Newton have been able to build the reflecting telescope (among other things) if his half-niece hadn’t lived with him to do his house cleaning? I think it’s time women have equal rights and a wife.”
“Why anyone would give up seven-hours at an office job to get married and spend 14 hours at home cleaning and waiting on people is beyond me,” Jess remarks.
That night, after I pick up the dirty dishes from Spouser’s TV tray, I comment casually, “Spouser, I want my own wife.”
Taking a bite off the end of his chocolate stick, he mutes CNN and stares at me over the edge of his Newsweek.
“How much is it going to cost me, and what woman would have you?” he asks. “You’d run her off within a week.”
“Spouser,” I complain, “not letting a woman have a wife is discrimination.”
“Oh, please,” he says, rolling his eyes and raising the TV volume a few notches.
“Can you hear what I’m saying?”
“Barely,” he says. “We men are the ones who have it tough. Women have no idea the amount of work that goes into being the kind of guy a woman would want to be a wife for.”
It’s Sunday and Spouser has a three-day old beard that could wipe the skin off my bare back like a blowtorch. His T-shirt is sprouting poppies from seeds that fell off his toast a week ago, and if the holes in his socks get any bigger, he’ll be able to pull them up and use them as shorts.
“You’re telling me you work hard at this?” I ask, shouting over the commentator.
“One knows he’s good when,” Spouser says, lifting the footrest on his lounge chair, exposing his crusty heels, “one makes it look easy.”
Of course, I think, I could have fallen in love with a guy who cooked, cleaned and dressed sharp. Unfortunately, I’ve never been attracted to male flight attendants.
“Face it. Maintaining a wife takes a higher level of mental, physical and spiritual stamina than you’ve got,” Spouser says. “You wouldn’t last one day.”
“So, basically, you’re telling me females don’t have wives because we’re weak and inferior?”
Spouser points, and I pour him another cup of tea.
“All I’m saying is,” he continues, tearing open two packages of Splenda and spilling half into his tea and the other half onto the floor, “not everyone is up to the task of being a Spouser.”
He makes a circling motion with his pointer finger.
“Sure, I’ll bring you a spoon,” I say.
Gina Tiano is the author of Life in the Bike Lane, available at Amazon.com.