February 2008

Master of our domain

By Suzanne Strazza

Dear Suzy-Q,

My husband claims to be “Lord and Master” of our domain, and therefore is not required to adhere to the social norms of said domain. Is he right?

Signed, Lady Misery

Dear Lady M.,

Have you not realized that there are two sets of rules in every home; those for you and the wee ones and those for the man of the house?

The social norms may vary from home to home, but the basic premise of “Man hath no limitations” is a constant.

For example, when you enter our home, shoes come off, in order to reduce the amount of mud that oozes all over the house. Presumably, my lord and master’s shoes do not track mud as he often demonstrates by showing me the soles of his hikers after the mud has been deposited on the living-room rug. “See? Clean as a whistle.” Seems that only the children’s shoes and mine, of course, have the propensity to retain dirt.

Then, when the shoes do actually come off, his have a strong aversion to mingling with those of the other members of the family. Although there is a place in the laundry room for muddy footwear, it is beneath my lord to put his there. His (size 12) shoes prefer to be lined up under the coffee table in the living room or right in front of the washing machine so that I have to straddle them to wash his underwear.

But what is a bit of inconvenience when I am serving my beloved?

Another rule that does not apply to the men of the house is the “no snacking before dinner” rule. We strictly do not graze as I am spooning out the evening’s slop because it might ruin appetites. As the boys wheedle and whine for something to fill their empty tummies, their mother barking at them that they know the rules, Tom faithfully backs me up while casually shoveling chips and salsa into his maw.

And speaking of mealtime… As I try to teach my children that, yes, there are starving children in Africa who would kill for the food that’s in front of them so that they will eat what is served and not complain, Tom will decide that rather than subject himself to zucchini and cooked carrots, he will rummage through the refrigerator to find just the right item to tempt his taste buds. Often, it is something like ice cream, which comes close to inciting riots amongst the young.

But, honey, what about eating what’s served?

They’re the children, I am an adult – it’s different.

Oh.

And about that ice cream, or Oreos; how many (if any) do the children and I receive after dinner (a mere pittance) while he indulges in half the container? But, he works hard and therefore deserves the extra.

Then, oh Lady Misery, I hope that you are not trying to get your man to put down the toilet seat? Of course he doesn’t have to do that! (Although my boys receive a stern condemnation about respecting their mamma if they happen to forget.) Please know that it is your good fortune and pleasure to be able to lay your hands on that seat after he has peed.

Speaking of bathrooms, since I am the lady of a house filled with boys, there is a constant fight (on my part) to minimize the amount of “bathroom” talk, noises and jokes. Again, my husband is incredibly supportive when it comes to teaching the boys it is not appropriate to sing “Beans, beans the magical fruit…” at the dinner table (which happened just last night). Yet, we wonder, where did the boys learn the song in the first place?

No one finds it the least bit appealing when one of the boys passes gas in the living room, and the “excuse me” rule is strictly enforced, yet when my loving master does, he blesses me with the “Aren’t I cute” smirk. And, as is my duty and yours, Lady M, I smile lovingly in return.

Clearly, we are much too ladylike to even consider the gas-passing action.

Traveling for us is always a good reminder of where we all stand. I pack for three, while he packs for himself. When we are limited on space, I share my duffle, dry box or ammo can with two small, dirty boys while Tom’s valise is for his belongings alone. Often, I am questioned as to why my duffle is so much larger than his. I curtsy and promise to do better the next time!

I am sure that in your home, with the social norms you have created, your expectations of your husband are unrealistic and unfair. Did you consult with him before you decided it was unacceptable to drink straight out of the milk carton? Did you consider his feelings when you laid down the law about not watching TV during dinner? Really, my dear, you are probably the one at fault here for not realizing that he is the lord and you are merely the scullery maid.

I hope this helps.

Sincerely, Suzy-Q

Dear reader, please send me your thoughts. Each month, I will respond to one with my worldly advice. Do not ask me to address science, history, math or politics as I am ignorant in all of these. Send me your burning questions and I will gladly answer. I can be reached at suzanne.strazza@gmail.com. Please put “Suzy-Q”, which stands for Suzyquestion, in the subject line.

Suzanne Strazza writes from Mancos, Colo.