An Experiment Regarding Men and Dirty Dishes

I think all women have a slight tendency to display the martyr gene.  Particularly those of us who have children.  After all, when you spend your life acting as an unpaid slave to a bunch of ingrates it’s really comforting to feel that at least the universe appreciates what a terrible life you lead.

I believe I have mentioned dirty dishes before in my ramblings, and I have to admit that this can be a bone of contention between me and the other inhabitants of my house – including the dog, who frequently fails to lick her bowl completely clean.

For the most part I suffer with resignation and dignity the piles of dirty dishes, reasoning that my husband works long enough hours to be spared the washing up, and the children are just too annoying to have around the kitchen.

But, when the landscaping season draws to a close, and our glorious breadwinner finds himself at a loose end, I feel that a little help might not go amiss.  Particularly as he likes to spend his leisure hours in the kitchen experimenting with cured meats and pizza sauces – activities which seem to necessitate the use of every single bowl, pan and implement we own.

My usual MO is to assume that my husband will know when I want help, and then to sulk when I don’t get it.  But I got smart and, when I left for work the other day, I pointed out the nice clean kitchen and begged him to wash up after himself.  The concept didn’t receive quite the warm embrace I hoped for – in fact he found himelf completely unable to look me in the eye, instead muttering something about how he could go out to eat.

I returned later, weary and dispirited after a day of being shot down by prospective victims in my quest for child sponsors.  Choosing the high ground, I averted my eyes from the counters piled high with the detritus of a day’s culinary adventures.  In fact, I ignored them for three days, reasoning that he would give in any time now and man up to the task.

No such luck – I caved first, but I think next time I’ll see what happens if I try and go four days.

Making the World a Better Place

Much as I love my freelance copywriting business, I struggle with a compunction to do more than just fuel the capitalist machine.  What I really want is to change the world.

So a while ago I had the bright idea to seek out part-time, short-term contracts with non-profits to fit in around my copywriting work, and boost my sense of fulfillment.

The upshot of that is that I’m currently doing some fundraising work, trying to sign up child sponsors in the mall.  When my youngest learned my plans he was appalled.  “Oh great, so when my friends ask what my Mum does, I have to say she’s one of those people who stand in the mall accosting everyone!”  Well, yes, that’s exactly what you can say, and thanks for your support!

Its been an education, hanging around desperately engaging people in conversation, largely against their will.

Most people develop a fascination with the nearest store window, or their shoes and rush past as quickly as said shoes will take them.  Others are willing to risk a tentative “hello”, but a slight upward flick of the wrist, creating a subtle, hip-level stop sign with their hand, indicates that you better hadn’t try to get more out of them.

There’s a certain type who have no intention of helping, but they have plenty to say about the particular bee they have lodged in their bonnet.  As soon as you engage them you can see their eyes light up with a fanatical spark, and you know you are about to be put straight on the ways of the world.  You want to turn and flee, but it’s too late because the fundraising fraternity frowns on blatant rudeness.  I’ve had the good fortune to be enlightened on a variety of topics from politics to the futility of charity, and strangely enough, none of those soapbox orators were remotely tempted to pull out their wallets and actually help.

We also see a lot of creatively crafted excuses – “My grandmother already sponsors” seems to be a popular one, even from adults who, in their middle age, should probably be considering autonomy by now.  My personal favourite, though, has to be “Oh, sorry, I’m from Nova Scotia”.  Who knew that our friends in the Maritimes have special dispensation from acts of charity?

We also saw a spy in the mall the other day.  He was lurking very suspiciously, leaning on a store window wearing dark sunglasses and pretending very ineffectually to be reading the newspaper he was peering over.  Well, maybe not a spy – if he is one he probably won’t last long.  Maybe mall security, although I would have thought the point of plain clothes security is probably not to draw attention to yourself with the use of caricature.

I’m not sure I want to make a career move of standing around for hours on end, with a smile plastered on my face, suffering rejection over and over again.  Frankly, the novelty is wearing a little thin.  Although I forget the agony every time I sign up a sponsor and think about the  child whose life just got dramatically better.  I guess that’s the point of the exercise.