The Reluctant Housewife or Dorothy Parker Ate My Puppy

"When I got married, I said to my therapist, 'I want to do something creative.' He said, 'Why don't you have a baby?' I hope he's dead now." Joy Behar

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Reluctant Eurofrau


Eurofrau is a Eurofraud. My German is excreable, unless I've been drinking. Then, of course, I'm fluent. At least I have some German though.

I worry how my friends Henry & Annabel are going to cope when they visit us at h'bands mother's house on the Belgian border next weekend.

Henry is an unreconstructed Sloane of the 'Shout louder and they'll Understand' school of language. He has blonde hair, Gucci loafers and a signet ring digging into the flesh of his left hand. He spends all his money restoring an old Triumph Convertible. He's a sixty year old trapped in the body of a twenty six year old.

Annabel is small, blonde and delights in tormenting Henry by telling everyone about his sexual shortcomings, personal hygiene issues and inability to spell. She wears too much white eyeshadow and has no chest to speak of.

I like them both very, very much.

Henry has a morbid fear of card games and Scrabble. I haven't the heart to tell him that there is nothing else to do in the evenings in rural Germany. We could throw our car keys into a pot and swap spouses but, from what Annabel says, that would only occupy ten minutes of my at most.

My other worry is how they will interact with the mother-in-law. Vivacious, no-nonsense and wise, she is doing a phd on Kurt Schwitters. Henry & Annabel are NOT no-nonsense or wise. I hope Henry doesn't make bottom jokes at the dinner table.

Am glad to be going to Germany, getting away from the hovel. Mother-in-law's house is gargantuan by London standards. It sits on the top of a hill overlooking a valley. At night, the only sounds are the wind and owls in the distance. It's a comfort to escape the daily routine of almost-nothingness.

Fear of Flying is Fear of Falling


Airports give me the rampaging heebie-jeebies. I hate being coralled into ever smaller spaces, as though I were a cow. Once, the fear overcame me and I locked myself in the men's loo at an airport in Tunisia. I hid there for what seemed like an aeon before I mustered the courage to run out onto the tarmac toward the plane. I shook like a washing machine on the spin cycle for the entire flight.


In my younger, more naive days, I toyed with the idea of being an air hostess. I was eight. My mother flicked me on the back of the head and said, "Darling, you'll spend all day carrying little bags of sick." My pre-pubescent dreams of a career where I could use one of those gorgeous wheelie suitcases every day vanished.

A Lazy Sunday - or are all my days lazy?

Woke cocooned in my massive feather duvet, a ball of warm, to hear H'band put a cup of coffee on the table near my head. Then the Sunday Times appears and I tear the cellophane open to extract the Style section. Lose myself in glossy pages, squinting in the half light filtering through the curtains, taking an occasional sip of sweet de-caff.

Then something slips in my mind and the minature heaven of the moment is lost. I remember. I'm a lazy beast. Have you ever seen a truly lazy beast? They look like you, talk like you, but have a dirty little secret. We lazy beasts do nothing but moan and eat. Double entendre intended. In the past I would have been called a slattern, or a slut. A woman of no motivation and little purpose. After reading Style, what is there for me to do? Water the plants, hoover, wash up my coffee cup? I already know what I will do. I'll pass the day like every other, in a rhyme of tea, internet browsing and snacking until H'band comes home. Then I'll remonstrate with him for not showing me more affection. He'll sigh and I'll feel the guilt of the reluctant parasite.

I beat myself up about it a lot. My friends make sly jibes about housewives and the levels of cleanliness in my flat. I bite my lip and pretend not to hear. I don't want to be a housewife. I want a career, a job that allows me money to buy the pretty things I see in Style. Somewhere along the line I lost my confidence. I can't trust myself not to fuck it up. So, I sit, and I read, and I stare into space wondering how I of all people became an unemployed bludger.

Guilt is eating away at me, slowly, like an infection. Then I recall the words of e. e. cummings, who wrote:

guilt is the cause of more disorders
than history's most obscure marorders

He's overstating the case, but I see his point.

I need a plan, although I've written countless of those. Perhaps a list is more appropriate.

  1. Write. Write anything. Write all the time. Ignore my self-editor and scribble, scrawl and jot until my fingers hurt.
  2. Throw away the guilt.
  3. Look at the promise the future holds, not the failures of the past.

That should do for now. Where's that notebook?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Chapped hands and a Rotting Brain

Times Quick Crossword. 9 across, keep safe (8). Cannot think of the answer. Portent of early demenita or a by product of my boredom?

My father claims that an intelligent person is never bored, but it would be more sensible to state that a motivated person is never bored. So, where has my motivation gone? It disappeared sometime in 2000 and hasn't reappeared since. Perhaps this is what housewifery does to you. Give me five years and I'll be a valium riddled washing up obsessed harridan with immaculate hair and no converstion. Gosh. I fear it has already happened.

A couple of years on incapacity benefit for an endochrine disorder has reduced me to a dependent, on par with a child in terms of the ability to fend for myself in the wicked world.