My House Husband Grade: Incomplete

by Kevin Burton

   So I am furloughed, my wife is still working fulltime.  I guess that makes me a house husband?

   Well I am working, on something I hope can someday be called a legitimate small business.  But most days I don’t go anywhere farther than the mailbox.

   House husband is a clunky phrase that doesn’t feel right or flow naturally.

   I thought the term “houseman” sounded better until I looked it up. says a houseman is first “a male servant who performs general duties in a home, hotel, etc.” or second, “a man employed to maintain order as in a bar or gambling casino.”

    Order?  Order is what I do at Buffalo Wild Wings. Order is a verb. If order is a noun, it isn’t my noun.  

   The house is still standing don’t get me wrong. And there aren’t any children involved here. That’s why you’re hearing about this on Page 7 rather than the five o’clock news.  

   My record as a house husband is uneven, spotty. Grade earned: incomplete.

   Incomplete means significant progress has been made but parts of the curriculum have not been completed or even attempted.

   I have my moments, even my wife will admit.

   At one point I was so good at taking out the trash without being asked that she forgot what night trash night was. 

   Married guys, can you say that?

   Laundry I am good with usually. How hard is laundry anyway?  It’s not like we’re taking clothes to the river or beating them with rocks and sticks.

   Cooking, that I am OK with.  

   My wife, when we were dating would come to my apartment for dinner Monday afternoons and eat all that mediocre stuff I was making, Salisbury steak, mac and cheese, green beans out of a can, like it was some sort of gourmet feast.

   So in the new world order I will interrupt my writing long enough to make a hot lunch or breakfast sometimes.

   It’s the cleaning. My incomplete comes from lack of cleaning.  Oh I clean each and every day, but it’s guy cleaning.

  Guy cleaning could be for example, removing several dirty paper plates and plastic bowls from the table downstairs so I can find my Shocker audio tapes or the notebook I use to jot down song ideas.

   Getting down to that second layer is guy cleaning.

   Dishes are another issue. Let’s say there is a sink full of dishes. If I am heating up tea in the microwave for two minutes, I will clean as many dishes as I can in that two minutes but then move on to my other tasks.

   The remainder of the dishes will not be cleaned in the Olympic time trial speed preferred by my wife.

  Also, I have told her more than once that given a chance, God will dry the dishes. You just have to let them sit there.

   Any kind of cleaning requiring contact with actual dirt, on a floor for example, should not be required of me. After all, my limited vision unfortunately just will not permit me to complete certain tasks.       

   For journalistic purposes I asked my wife how I am doing as a house husband.

   “You’re doing a whole lot better,” she says. “You’ve taken it upon yourself to do some cleaning downstairs, which I really appreciate.”

   Her voice is raised as she says this, in the universally understood vocal pattern that leaves one expecting a “but” followed by the hammer being laid down.

   I suppose that hammer could still come, but she didn’t strike the blow today. No matter, I have graded myself, admitting my flaws, leaving room for improvement.

   If a certification is needed to become a house husband, I am in some trouble.

   I can tell you without asking though that she’s not buying the limited vision bit.  She says I see what I want to see. That, I can’t deny.

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