As I trudged through my front door this evening I was greeted by my Italian housemate who was looking rather glum. It’s Monday night and I know the feeling. It’s cold and miserable. And it’s only going to get worse.
‘Ah,’ he exclaimed, ‘I didn’t have time to do this work over the weekend so I have to do it now.’
This I also understand. Since I got my new job, each night has come to revolve around work in some shape or form. Researching a piece, editing ones already written, flicking through magazines/papers/journals looking for ideas, making lists, transcribing, worrying about press day… it’s endless. Endless, endless. I shall shimmy over the fact I love my job and don’t mind it one bit (because blog boss Harry tells me my writing isn’t welcome on this forum unless it’s angry, rant-worthy and miserable) and simply say that yes, coming home from work on Monday, just to work some more, isn’t exactly ideal.
So basically I understood where my flatmate was coming from. Only what was odd was that he wasn’t working. He was ironing.
‘Poor you, you have to work?!’ I said sympathetically. It might sound sarcastic written down, but he never brings work home. It must have been a rubbish day at the office, I thought to myself, made infinitely worse by the fact that the work he needs to do now is the not-fun-at-all type (he does something very complicated, stressful and inexplicable to me: banking).
‘Yes, work,’ he continued, ‘you know, i-ron-ing.’
I laughed out loud. It has never once occurred to me that ironing could be considered ‘work’. But this is probably because, I never do it. No girls, I don’t get him to do it (though that is an idea), I just don’t do it, period. I prefer to wander around in creased clothes, looking like a crisp packet. Seriously, I simply don’t care.
It’s not just ironing, I don’t do any housework. None at all. This therefore makes me one of the laziest most slovenly people on the planet. So basically, a man.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t exactly live in squalor. There are no pizza boxes under my bed (they don’t fit) nor kebab smears down my jeans (hate kebabs). One of the stipulations of my rent is that we have to have a cleaner. Frankly, I’d rather keep the money and do it myself. But actually that’s total crap, I really wouldn’t rather keep the money and do it myself.
Looking around me now, all I see is mess. My mess. It’s like I stuck a flag on the kitchen table with my ugly mug plastered all over it and claimed it as my own; my own desk for working, my space for all the crap. My poor, gentlemanly Italian housemate (he’s single, ladies…) doesn’t stand a chance. Not only in battling me – laptop for laptop – for space on the table, but he doesn’t even stand a chance against my mess. There’s just too much of it.
Flat plans, files, sheets of paper, press releases, newspapers, magazines… the poor dear is fighting a losing battle. Not that he minds (or appears not to mind), which is probably why I haven’t felt guilted into moving it. But now I think about it, it’s really not on. And not just because it’s inconsiderate to him, I just feel it’s not on for me (a girl) to be such a sloppy, slothful, sluggish pig whereas my housemate (a man) is, by comparison, neat, tidy and house-proud. He even washes up after me, clears my plates and buys me milk.
I’ve given up telling him not to do these things because he doesn’t listen. Whilst I can’t bear the thought of housework, I can’t bear even more the thought of someone else doing it for me for nothing. I pay my cleaner so I can just about let her do things, although the time she asked me to lift my feet from off the ground so she could clean the floor under it, and I huffed, was really #firstworldproblems to the extreme and made me feel repulsed at myself.
I joke about being a man, but I do feel manish and also slightly like a failure to womankind. I’m not like my mother, and generations of women before her, who spent their twenties cleaning, scrubbing, washing and cooking.
I’m like my dad. A twenty something unmarried worker, who goes out on weeknights and pays someone else to hoover the carpet. How times have changed, in one generation.
I’m left wondering if I should be proud – or horrified. I suppose I’m a bit of both and I’m not quite sure what to do about it. Either I learn to suffer housework and feel like a woman or just accept that times have changed and carry on like a man.
Or I combine the two – carry on working, partying, accepting my cleaner – but doing my bit in-between, like tidying, to top up the ‘mother hen’ gene I feel is so distinctly lacking.
An all-rounded excellent plan which, yes, I think I’ll do.
And like most men before me, I know exactly the time to do it – when all other man-things are done:
By Beenie Langley