Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Blame thirtysomething. Or, Men are the New Women? (Redux)

I have been thinking about the modern male quite a bit this week, and I can come to only one conclusion. I love the one I’ve got and I’m going to keep him. Everyone else is on their own.

First, came the home improvements.

Despite the decade and our upbringings, my husband and I have a traditional marriage. He earns all the money and I do all the housework. That is fine with me. I got married at 35. I worked plenty. I know what I’m missing and I don’t miss it.
One of the realities of being single so long is that I learned to do a lot of things for myself. My sister and I used to joke that if we had a pick-up truck we wouldn’t need a man for anything. We'd laugh. Then we’d go back to crying in our Ben and Jerry’s because we did not have a man.

"If we had a pick-up truck we wouldn’t need a man for anything."

That was then. Now, I am the female half of a traditional marriage. The problem is, my husband is not handy. Or maybe he just wasn’t single long enough. Either way, I am the only member of this family who knows how to use a power drill. I’m self taught and, despite all of my tool-man bashing when I was single, I am not very good. I would not mind having a man take over the power tools.

This week I had to get out the old power drill to baby-proof the kitchen cabinets. At first I was a bit puffed up. Look at me. I’m handy. I can use a drill. But, by the time I was flat on my back (on a floor which I sweep and mop) with my head under the sink (which I keep stocked and organized) dropping screws in my eyes trying to attach spring loaded plastic latches (which I researched and purchased) I was a little annoyed.

At that moment, right or wrong, (and I admit it was a bit unfair) I began to see the division of labor a little differently. It was no longer, “He earns all the money; I do all the housework”. It was, “He earns all the money; I do everything else. Except mow the lawn, and that is only because he can afford to pay a guy.”

Then came thirtysomething. In the mail, I mean. The original came twenty years ago.
For those of you who weren’t around in 1987, thritysomething was a bit of pop-culture phenomenon. A TV show about the angst and loves of seven friends in their thirties. What was note worthy about it at the time was all of the emoting (some called it whining) that went on, especially by the men. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t really notice. I was only 18. My life was full of angst and whining and I knew very few actual “men”. It was released on DVD recently and I was feeling nostalgic so I gave it a re-watch. What I found interesting is that the male whining is not note worthy any longer.

"It is unfair, but true, that a man who is sensitive about our feelings is attractive. A man who is too sensitive about his own feelings is just oogy."

Men “in touch with their feelings” are all over the place, at least in popular culture. This was supposed to be a good thing, right? Back in the day when men drank and smoked and didn’t talk much, (think Robert Mitchum) women said they wanted a sensitive man. But did they really? Did they want their man to stop drinking, stop smoking, and start talking? Or did they just want him to start listening and maybe hit the hamper with the dirty socks once in awhile? Saying you want a sensitive man is too vague. Let’s face it. It is unfair, but true, that a man who is sensitive about your feelings is attractive. A man who is too sensitive about his own feelings is just oogy.

Finally, I read Men in the ‘mirdle’, an article from the Chicago Tribune.

I quote: “When it comes to underwear, men are the new women. Guys are experimenting with color and styles. In fact, bucking a dismal retail trend, men's underwear sales are up. And -- get this -- men are starting to discover ‘body shapers’ to smooth their love handles, lift their posteriors and knock off a few pounds without dieting. In short, men are discovering the benefits of the male equivalent of Spanx.”
No, no, no, no. My fore-mothers did not want this. They wanted the vote. They wanted equal pay for equal work. They did not want to use power tools. Well, okay, maybe they did. But they certainly didn’t want to listen to their husband whine because his girdle was too tight.

I have forgiven my husband for not being handy with a drill. He is great with the kids, and he can, on occasion, out of necessity use a broom or bake a pizza. No. Even that is unfair. He’s awesome. He does a lot more than just earn the money. He just doesn’t do it with power tools.

Our arrangement works for us. So, I will keep doing the minor home improvements and the laundry. As long as he doesn’t whine when I shrink his mirdle.

[If some of this sounds familiar, it is because this is the original from which an earlier post was an excerpt. I apologize to all who have slogged through both. But, thank you.]


  1. lol cute. I'm glad you're so content. Growing up with my mother... I have learned some very valuable life skills including use of power tools and such, from my grandfather, for fear that my mother wouldn't know how to do something. I'm proud of those skills. And I use said tools relatively well. Power to the women with power tools =)

  2. I was a devotee to Thirtysomething when I was a teenager. I think I just really wanted to be a yuppy - it was all about he clothes and the cool stuff and jobs they had. Does anyone know what a yuppy is anymore?

  3. I know what a yuppie is!

    I remember seeing the cover of newsweek magazine when they had a woman made up to look like a "typical" yuppie for their feature article on same. I wanted to be her. Suit, sneekers to walk to work and change out of at the office, newspaper sticking out of cool bag.

    Then one day, about five years ago, and about twenty years after that article, I was taking the elevator to my office when I looked down and realized...I'd done it. It was kind of anti-climactic at that point, and not something I had consciously worked toward, but there I was.

    I'm a mom now. Sneekers yes, suit no, newspaper I won't find the time to read sticking out of diaper bag. Ah, I still feel cool. :)

  4. And you should still feel cool! (I realize now that I spelled yuppie wrong.)

    I had a similar moment recently (not ever having had a job that required a suit)when I looked around my house. I saw original artwork and coordinated furniture and pretty dishes, and I said, 'Hey, at least I have some nice things now that it doesn't matter nearly as much to me.' Funny.

    When I was in college I had a summer job at store like Eddie Bauer. My dad used to call it the Yuppie Surplus Store.