Every once in a while me and Minnie will get into a spat about somethin’ stupid – usually because I forgot to do somethin’ I was supposed to do, or I broke somethin’ I was supposed to fix, or I wasn’t listenin’ to her when she was tryin’ to tell me somethin’.
I cook, I clean, I wash the clothes, I pick up the groceries, I dust, I vacuum, I sweep, I mop, I feed the cats, I feed the dog, I let the dog out, I let the dog in, I scrub the toilet and tub, I do the dishes, and I make the kids’ lunches for school, she’ll say. Let me ask ya this, Billy – what is it you do around here, anyway?
The only time I was ever able to think of an answer, she shot me down right away.
I takes the garbage out! I yelled back at her, as if that one little thing was enough to balance off the great big list she just shouted at me.
But her eyes got wide and her nostrils kind of flared up and she said, Are you kiddin’ or what? The garbage? I’m the one that goes around the house and picks up the garbage, and throws the old food out, and empties the ashtrays into it and puts the sweepin’ into it. I’m even the one that picks the bag up out of the bucket and ties it up and puts it next to the back door, so all you gotta do is walk ten steps from the door to the end of the driveway for cripessake!
Now the thing is, I’m not a – whaddya call it – male chauvinist or anything. I’m not sexist or anything like that. I’d never say this is women’s work and that’s men’s work. It don’t matter what it is – if Minnie was great at mowin’ the lawn and I was great at cookin’ spaghetti and meatballs, then it would make sense to do things the other way around. But the fact is, I’m better at workin’ the lawnmower, and she’s better at cookin’ spaghetti. Sayin’ so don’t make me a caveman.
And I’d never think of finishin’ cuttin’ the grass, stormin’ in and blastin’ Minnie about why she don’t do her fair share of grass cuttin’. But it don’t go both ways. It drives Minnie nuts if I don’t do housework, and she’s not shy about lettin’ me know it.
But of course, a lot of times when ya end up in little spats like this, it’s not about the cleanin’ or the garbage or whatever it seems to be about. Usually when I get blasted for not helpin’ out it’s because she’s already mad at me for somethin’ else.
And, this time at least, I had no doubt at all what that somethin’ else was.
Now, I know I told yis before about our neighbour who moved in across the street a while back. Her name is Mary but when we were teenagers everybody called her Mary-go-round because, well, she got around. So of course, Minnie’s not crazy about her, especially since she still looks good in all the right ways and dresses like she’s half her age.
Anyways, me and Cyril were out in the driveway replacin’ the brake light on his truck when we noticed Mary across the street tryin’ to change a tire on her car. Well, since we’re gentlemen and everything, we went over and changed the tire for her. But since Minnie and Joan were in at the mall at the time, we never bothered to mention it.
So you can imagine my surprise later that night when Mary comes over with with a big tray of lasagna as a thank you for changin’ her tire. The worst part of it is, when Minnie answered the door, Mary was all dolled up with her make-up on and her hair all fancy and a blue dress and high heels and the whole nine yards. I’d never say it to Minnie, but she looked like a million bucks.
Of course, Minnie was right polite to her when she was here, but as soon as the door closed when she left, I knew I was in for it. She didn’t say anything at first.
You know what? she said. I do enough around here. (Then here comes the big list.) It’s your lasagna, so you can cook it yourself, and you can damn well do the dishes afterwards.
So I jacked the oven right up and fired the lasagna in. Of course, I forgot about it, and just so the place wouldn’t burn down, Minnie took it out of the oven and put it on the stove.
She ate without sayin’ a word.
Definitely not as good as yours, dear, I said after a few bites. She just looked at me and rolled her eyes.
Have fun with the dishes, she said when we finally finished. And make sure you actually wash them. She went in and flicked on the TV.
So I filled the sink and washed the dishes. Not just the supper dishes, either. It was all that day’s dishes, even down to our tea cups from the night before. I had them piled so high in the plastic tray it was like the leanin’ tower of pizza.
I thought I was finished, but Mary’s lasagna tray was still on the stove. Because I’m an idiot, I went over and picked it up with my bare hands. It pretty much burned my fingerprints off and I dropped the dish, breakin’ it into about a million pieces.
Before the sound of the crash was even over, Minnie yells – Maybe next time you’ll think twice before tryin’ to pick up a hot dish.