Here’s how bad it’s getting, working from home. A late breakfast of a banana and beef jerky, and Fritos scoops and salsa con queso for lunch. Sometimes I feel like an unsupervised kid staying home from school and sneaking snacks, but as long as I have my laptop, my email, and my telephone, I'm good for the workaday world.
People are talking about the “new normal,” and I guess computer-commuting and Zoom meetings will be with us for a while yet, but who knows, these kinds of things may catch on even after the current health hubbub dies down. They’re saying masks aren’t going away for the foreseeable future, which means our BO is safe for the summer.
Meantime, working away at the kitchen table, I’m getting to know our house better, and believe it or not, I am more and more appreciating the homebody concept; a man’s castle and all that.
Not that I haven’t been trending in that direction for the last few years. I guess it’s something that happens when one has lived a while and is not that concerned with making his mark in the world and has climbed every metaphorical mountain he thought he should.
You get to the point where you look around and realize that getting ahead and chasing the almighty dollar pales in comparison to being with family, and actively doing more with, and for, them.
Of course, some guys are what we used to call confirmed bachelors, and never want to get married, serenely going through life like Henry Higgins wondering, "why can't a woman be more like a man?" Of course, keep in mind that that character from My Fair Lady paid a housemaid to take care of him, so he never had to be domestic.
I was a stay-at-home dad for a few months when my first child was born and got into domesticity with the aplomb of an amateur. Suffice to say, during that period, I learned two new things: how to bake a potato in the oven and how to change my son’s cloth diapers without tabbing him with safety pins. Except for once or twice. Or thrice.
It was like learning skills that I never picked up while growing up. With six kids in the house, my mother gave everyone chores to do and rotated them around for the most part. For instance, we all took turns washing or drying the dishes and sweeping the floor, but cooking was not rotated, and neither was sewing or ironing or doing the laundry.
My two brothers and I were relegated to cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage, and retrieving the occasional dead possum from the crawl space under the house. My three sisters did that other stuff, the “women’s work.”
That was back in the fifties and sixties, but even so, I’m not sure if that isn’t still the case today in some households.
At any rate, it’s not until they leave home that guys start learning how to do that other stuff. In the military – mainly boot camp – we learned to do laundry, shine shoes, make beds with hospital corners, clean the latrine, mop the floor, wax the floor, buff the floor, and you name it.
Heck, one time in basic training, we even had to spray-paint the brown grass green because President Johnson was coming for a visit.
The boomer generation was raised in an era when it was proper that the man went off to work, and "the little woman" stayed at home. More times than not in that era, hubbies were considered the only responsible party in a marriage, and most things financial or legal had to go through him. In fact, correct me if I’m wrong, but in some cases, an employer would pay a guy a higher wage if he was married under the assumption that wives did not work. While that is seen as archaic and arbitrary today, that’s the way it was and was considered normal. However, it wasn’t too long before a "new normal" took over, and married women were able to open their own bank accounts and do a heckuva lot more than just the shopping and whatnot.
It was high time for a change, and there was no holding back after that. In the succeeding decades, we have seen a string of new "new normals" and not only in the marriage and work categories but all over. I remember when BankAmericard became a new normal for shopping, microwaves became a new normal for cooking, VCRs became a new normal for watching movies, and computers became a new normal for … umm … everything.
All in all, the latest new normal may turn out to be better than the old normal, and that’s okay.
It’s just that there’ll be another normal to come along before I get used to the old normal.