Once again we have a gender-bending role reversal in my house. I am in the kitchen making meatballs, tomato sauce, and a goat curry for dinner tonight. The Lovely Louise is out replanting plants, digging holes, and generally bulldozing our yard. This works out remarkably well for us, and has ever since we’ve been together.
When we were first dating, I was at her house for the weekend. The upstairs shower was acting up. Instead of asking me to look at it, Louise announced that she’d take care of it. She carefully took pictures of the problem and headed off to the hardware store to get what she needed. When I asked what she needed, she replied, “I don’t know, but I’m sure the chappies at the hardware store will help me.” (Have I mentioned that Louise is a very good looking blonde with a British accent?) An hour or so later she returned home with a bag of plumbing supplies.
Me: Did your chappies tell you what to do?
Louise: It’s amazing how helpful the plumbing chappies are if you just ask them.
I looked at what she was wearing, which displayed her charms to maximum effect and thought to myself, Yeah, I’m sure they were happy to help you. Never mind, she has her supplies and she’s off to fix the shower. Now, what am I going to do? I have it. There’s no one in the kitchen, so I’ll bake a couple of loaves of oatmeal molasses bread!
A while later, a gunk-stained Louise came into the kitchen holding a wrench and some old plumbing parts and announced that the shower is fixed. She looked at me and asked what I’d been doing, since I and the kitchen were both covered in flour. I told her that while she was fixing the shower, I was baking bread—and we both stopped, looked at each other, and started laughing. This was my kind of woman.
Over the years I’ve learned that Louise loves being physically active. She really never stops until she falls exhausted into bed. Me? I take a more cerebral approach. In my view, you can’t just head outside and start digging things up. These things need to be thought about, discussed, debated, analyzed … and then the process starts all over again before a decision is made to put spade to earth. As I’ve told Louise, if you want something done you only have to tell me once. You don’t need to remind me every six months. Louise, on the other hand, sees a problem and immediately attacks it. She doesn’t even think about it; she just starts doing it. I’ll admit that she does get an awful lot accomplished this way—more than I would because I would turn on the baseball game, grab a beer, and think about what needs to be done for a week or two.
Years ago, when Louise and her two boys and I all moved in together, I noticed one Saturday that Louise was outside, and I could see her cutting off tree limbs, pushing a wheelbarrow, and digging in the garden. I got mad and accosted her son, who was sitting on the couch in the living room playing video games.
“Why don’t you go outside and help your mother?” I asked.
“I’ve lived with her all my life,” he said, “and I know she doesn’t want any help.” Not believing him, I went outside to ask Louise if I should send the kid out to give her a hand. “No thank you.” she replied, “I’d rather do it myself, and I like the exercise.” That’s when I stopped feeling guilty about not helping her.
So what do I do around the house? Not much actually, and I really don’t mind. I do handle almost all of the cooking, and I can quite modestly tell you that I have become a pretty good home chef. For example, dinner tonight will be goat Jalfrezi curry. I’ve gotten good enough that when Louise went shopping with me today and she bought a jar of Jalfrezi curry, I was insulted. What? My Jalfrezi isn’t good enough for you? I will admit that a good curry takes most of the day to prepare, and sometimes even has to be started a day or two in advance. The idea of simply opening a jar and having all that work already done is appealing. I think what I’m really worried about is that the jar curry will taste better than mine.
Since I like to make everything from scratch as much as possible, I often take Sunday to do most of the cooking for the week. Right now I have a tomato sauce simmering away with genuine Italian plum tomatoes, and I just took a tray of meatballs out of the oven so we can nibble on them all week. My secret to meatballs to keep them tasty and juicy? I grind up two pounds of meat and about half a pound of bacon with an onion, some garlic, and maybe a piece of ginger or two. Run that through your food processor and then fold it into the meat. You’ll thank me. I promise. You really will thank me.
But if you need plumbing or to have trees taken down, you’d better call Louise.