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Working Woman's Wife
by Walt Giersbach

According to The New York Times news service, “Now that women have solidly earned their place in the work force, many find themselves still yearning for something men have: wives…. With both men and women working a record-breaking number of hours, the question has become how to accomplish what used to be a wife’s job.”

I couldn’t get rid of the vendor on line 1, there was a call hanging on line 2, I was ten minutes late for a conference call from Tokyo, and the senior VP was tapping his foot in my doorway. Worse, I had just spilled a four dollar latte on my white Ralph Lauren skirt.

“Just a minute!” I shouted at the SVP, “Goodbye!” I screamed at the vendor, and “Wait!” I demanded of the caller on 2.

“You should have worn a beige skirt to match your coffee,” the SVP snorted. “See me when you calm down.”

“What is it!” I demanded of line 2. My husband, David, on 2, was patient. He didn’t deserve my animosity, but he happened to be in the line of fire. Collateral damage.

“Well, the baby sitter called,” he said. “Jamie fell down and whacked his head, there’s no more formula and the smoke alarm is going off.”

“That’s all!” I screamed. “I work ten-hour days, my boss is telling me to get on a plane to Atlanta tomorrow, and I still have to make dinner when I get home. I haven’t had time to wipe my butt.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Is it your period?”

That did it. I threw the telephone, which bounced back and hit me in the knee. “I need a wife,” I cried, putting my head in my hands.

That night I broke down in tears again. “What are we doing, David? Where is this heading? At this rate, we’ll be toast before we’re forty.”

“Different subject,” he answered. “I had an offer today. About my job.”

He knew I loathed neurotic responses that didn’t answer my questions, but he’s always persisted in irritating me.

“I make a seventy-five thousand,” I said, ignoring his interruption. “A third of it goes to pay the sitter. I make the meals, I wash the dishes, I bathe the baby.”

“I pay the mortgage,” he offered. “Take out the garbage. Hang pictures and unclog toilets.”

“What offer?”

“Oh,” he said, his mind replaying the thread of our conversation. “Yeah. We’re downsizing, and Bill Monaghan suggested I try working from home as an alternative to reducing workforce. I’d send in my reports. Do all my legwork on a telephone and computer.”

My mouth fell open. “You could work at home? You’d help with Jamie?” Then reality slapped me on the forehead. “You can’t handle being a stay-at-home dad. You’d go crazy, kill me with a meat tenderizer or something.”

“No, really. This’d be a good experience. You could concentrate on your job and try for that promotion. My commission would balance out my salary by me not having to commute. And,” he paused, a bit nonplussed, “I really like to cook, but you intimidate me ’cause you’re better than I am.”

“No, you cook, please,” I murmured. I was struck dumb. The Hallelujah Chorus went off in my head. Freedom to have a career and a family and home had just waltzed in the door of my life.

“We have a great child,” he continued, “and we love each other but….” He looked cautiously at me. “Just one thing.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“It’s just this. Some women don’t respect a stay-at-home husband. That’s why I hesitate telling Bill I’ll do it. You’re a Type A personality and I’m more of a B type.”

“Oh, God, David, I love you. Do you really mean you’d be….” Then the thought blasted me. “That means you’d be my wife!”

“Well,” he said, scratching his ear, “I can cook and clean house and take care of Jamie, but I absolutely refuse to wear your nightgown to bed.”