Being Good at Housework While Being a Bloke
I will freely admit and accept that you should be able to feel as blokey as all get out while doing the housework. It’s just that doing it in association with time in the shed, mucking about with power tools and schlepping around hardware stores makes it as much fun as it can be short of having a good supply of penny bungers. And on that wise tell your good lady they are the last resort against spiders and you’ll get away with it.
There is a traditional view that a lot of men don’t do housework as they consider it not manly. Alternately, they don’t because they are single and follow P.J. O’Rourke’s dictum in The Bachelor Home Companion: that the house needs to be cleaned, on average, once every new girlfriend.
It is not because housework lacks for incentivisation. According to the latest received wisdom and statistics (and who researches this anyway?) men who do more housework get more sex so you’d think fellas would be all over the dishes, the laundry, the dusting, the vacuuming, the sweeping, the mopping, the cooking, cleaning up after, the dishes. Except after all that most blokes would be too shagged to shag and might need to be nursed over the bumpy bits at the end.
For those who want to clean up in return for more bedroom action, go to it man, and let us know how you go. For others, left with no choice and desperate for brownie points for whatever bro-thing you might wish to attend or purchase (or both), there are ways to get amongst the jobs and have a hoot.
All this I learned during some recent time off work on what we could call in all seriousness “recharging-the-batteries-while-not-going-on-hols” leave.
Bored senseless, I figured I would make myself useful but do so as blokey as I could. Which was, I am not ashamed to admit, very affirming, in a wearing-cargo-pants-and-boots-and-flannie-and-puffer jacket vest with Bass Pro, Grumpy the Dwarf and Davy Crockett patches-and-Bass Pro woodland camo baseball cap on-it kind of a way.
Starting with doing the dishwasher: emptying it. So far, so good and those martially-minded or with military pretensions can arrange the glassware, dressed from the right, chipped by numbers. Much the same can happen with the cup drawer and, with some close-order drill, make some funky patterns.
For [men chasing] brownie points for whatever bro-thing you might wish to attend or purchase (or both), there are ways to get amongst the jobs and have a hoot.
Similarly with the dishwasher, there is a certain thrill in trying to set the record for how much you can stack in as possible. That, in my opinion, is in the same league as trying to drop an impossibly powerful engine into a tiny car body. I’m calling it.
In putting away the dishes we note a wide selection of knives need an edge putting on them. This could take ages but we have a drill press with a fine sanding attachment. But a lock nut with the nylon in the end that attaches the worm spindle has come adrift (the nylon, like us, deteriorates with age). We go to the shop that sells specialty fasteners, which is a good thing, as they are called Specialty Fasteners, and that’s what they sell, and that’s why they’re called Specialty Fasteners *.
(* Just showing an Arlo Guthrie influence. After reading this blog, make yourself your favourite drink and/or snack, google Alice’s Restaurant and watch it on Youtube.)
When I say “we”, I mean myself and Ruby the Wonderkelpie in the ute and a short pootle over to an industrial centre and park with the other utes, noting pooches various in cabs, on trays and a couple of horrific looking brutes in cages. I mosey on in and feel slightly underdressed because I’m not wearing hi-viz. I shoot the breeze companionably, get the part, pootle home.
In fitting the part a coil spring, such as one might find in a clock, has to be re-attached and re-tensioned. OK, a bit tricky, a couple of oaths, done. Give the three-spoked hand spindle a whirl. The spring, due to age-related osteoarthritis, breaks.
The spring is hardened steel and needs a lip but will need heating. Out with the gas stove. Heat end of spring. Glowing orange, in the vice, bend. Lovely. Spot meat cleaver and some friends from the knife drawer. WTAF? Ah, yes, we’re sharpening those and will get to them shortly.
Refit of spigot, tension spring, press descends and rises gently. Great. Attach drum sander, sharpen knives.
Of course, we could have used a steel, or a sharpener kitchen thing from Aldi, or even the end of a chainsaw file and diamond stone. But where is the fun in that?
(Incidentally, I do have a disc-sander but I needed to fix the drill press for something else which we will come to shortly.)
Being at home a lot one finds that with people not taking their shoes off and the Wonderkelpie shedding so much you’d think she’d go bald the floors need a lot of sweeping and vacuuming.
A lot, and frequently.
Now, we possess one of those R2D2 units, a Taurus (Aldi again) and of late it’s not been well. The Internet Shopping Goddess worked her magic and procured a new internal filter but performance was still sub-par: Wouldn’t take the fairies off a dandelion flower.
OK, let’s take it apart. Screwdrivers at 30 paces, bench cleared to lay the thing out in sequence, like we were taught at wingnut boot camp for reservists and there’s a surprisingly large number of screws holding R2’s brain on. And there were some you could only get at by taking out a whole mess of ‘em. Out they come, all bar one, because all the other screws are a Phillips head with the last one being a very weird star drive shape. Luckily I had a doover for that, which I found not without some hunting around and general blasphemy.
Why there is only one like that will be lost to history. All I can think of is there is a requisition notice filed somewhere for more Phillips head screws on assembly line 4A in whatever sweatshop these things are made because employee XCJDK173906n ran out of one sort of screws and didn’t have the time to get more.
(Either that, or said employee couldn’t be arsed, and, maybe, smiled, going home each evening happy and secure in the knowledge that by having one screw out of at least 12 of a different head type, somewhere, over the rainbow, is someone like me having a first-world problem vide the right doover. I sincerely hope so.)
The correct doover is identified and apprehended and a radically trepanned R2D2 stares balefully upwards while the suction mechanism, to the extent a foam-lined spiral affair ending in a foam filter can be a mechanism, is inspected and found to be clogged to the wazoo with dog hair, human hair, grit, a deathly pallor grey bull-dust and the corporeal remains of what might have been dust mice. All the above removed with the judicious use of a leaf blower (which are great for 4WD air filters after a day in the dust, must quietly).
I reassemble the robot in reverse order and end up with a screw left over. It is one of the internal ones that you can only get at when you’ve taken out the others.
What the hell. Let’s turn it on. It works. Bloody well, too. Sod the extra screw. I proceed to vacuum everything, the floorboards, the carpets, the matting from IKEA in the kitchen. I was seriously thinking of doing the dog.
Doing the laundry is a perfect bloke pursuit.
Bung it all in and forget about it and when it finishes work up 1001 ways of rigging something up to dry it short of making the trip to the Hills Hoist and hanging it up. Of course, working out who owns what has its moments. I’ve ended up with the Human Locust’s jocks on more than one occasion.
I also, ended up, famously, with a pair of the Internet Shopping Goddess’ Knickers, which I only discovered when actually wearing them and they felt “weird”, I not being used to crack creep from my undies. And while most men are immune to feelings of embarrassment by fidgeting around their nethers like they’ve an unfettered ferret amidships, you just can’t own up to why, nor yet admit you are wearing your wife’s drawers.
But we digress. Laundry? Bloke? Yes, in the course of one’s finding methods to dry stuff without hanging it up, there is a thing called a clothes dryer. And it needs hanging up because it does my back in at the height it is on the floor. It used to in our old digs in Dunlop and a mate did it as we’d set up house owning a hammer and a wrench and three screwdrivers or something. We’d brought it with us along with some brackets but no instructions and I happily faff about with the bits and work out how to hang it. Using a recently restored-to-functionality drill press (see above) holes are drilled in metal and wood, the hammer drill and masonry bits are deployed to brickwork and Bunnings is visited for some dynabolts. I got them home and they are just the wrong size.
Even more swearage and back to Bunnings for the right size. Kept the others though.
Holes drilled and brackets mounted and the Human Locust is pressed into service to assist in terms of keeping tension on that blue and yellow rope that is everywhere when you’re driving, like some weird reptilian road-kill and a pulley.
Fun fact I: Telstra use it originally for running stuff underground.
Fun Fact II. It gets used once and then finds its way into and off trucks and trailers.
Fun Fact III: Two of the convicts on the First Fleet were called Rope and Pulley. The Internet Shopping Goddess is, and, consequently, the Human Locust and Charlottey are, descendants of the same. The following ensues:
“You’ll be taking the weight while I get it on the mounts.”
“Think of your ancestors,” and, to my delight, he got that and hauled away like a champ.
These feelings of usefulness to an ultimate end of getting the household stuff done is, as I said, enormous fun. It also fires the imagination and stay tuned for the building of a head high shelf, say 10×10’ as a space-saving solution in the garage. And which will, of course, have a small seating area underneath with a radio and TV for those afternoons with the footy or the cricket.
Epilogue and gratuitous plug:
If you don’t violently object to this sort of thing John welcomes you to visit his blog here. He adds: “If you are violently opposed and visit nonetheless please be prepared to be treated with some derision and strong language”.
Shades of H. Allen Smith. See ” Lost In The Horse Latitudes ” Grenadine Etching ” Low Man On The Totem Pole ”
Ha! I shall recover my place on the totem pole with my next blog on the mezzanine I built in the garage over the recent long weekend.
Loved your blog John – even got inspired to do housework myself- Jo
Oh dear! What have I started. Thanks Jo. Next episode coming on building a mezzanine in the garage. With swearing.
Loved this John. I detest house work, John’s shed is much tidier and ordered than the house. Shows how much time he spends in his shed at the bottom of the property. On the opposite side of the house I have a quilting studio, it is in good shape, yes, that is where I spend most of my time. House be in the middle, where the twain meets for scant moments, and WE do the housework. Have a Westie that doesn’t shed hair, that helps.. but love the Aussie ‘Real Dog’ Oh and I wouldn’t let you near my knives! Carolyn