Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Good Wife's Guide (1955)

Y'all may have seen this, but a friend has just reminded me of this 1955 Housekeeping Monthly article on how to greet yer man when he comes homes from work. You may need either a whole box of tissues for the tears of hilarity, or an adult diaper/nappy, depending on your constitution. Let me break down some of the suggestions for you. Better yet, let me also tell you how they might parlay in Expat's House. I may have to do it in a few installments, such will be the flow of spleen:

- Have dinner ready. (OK, that I can usually manage, albeit with some attitude). Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. (Ha- wrong on so many counts. Planning ahead usually means standing about in the kitchen at 4pm wondering what on earth I can pull together. And wouldn't it be nice to know quite when HIS return would be? I either can't get through (important phone call) or he's pulling into the garage by the time he answers). Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed! (I beg your pardon!!!! I'm hungry ALL the time, and who is there to give me a warm meal and a similar welcome? Exactly.

- Prepare yourself. (Oh right, cause that's going to be the first thing on his mind as he's assailed by the latest domestic crisis plus little guy's indignation at having to turn off Sponge Bob.) Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. (Just where do they think we put the kids? Rest??? I haven't done that in 16 years - not even for 15 minutes.) Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. (No comment whatsoever.) He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. (And he's about to encounter yet another. Suck it up!)

- Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it. (Let's be grown up and take the word 'gay' in context. You want interesting?? Great - I have a Law Degree, oh, and a Masters in Something Else, and a published book. I can talk to adults about a lot of interesting things.... Sometimes, when HE walks in the door, I am SO manic that I can appear "gay and fancy-free". It's called hysteria. (Rhymes with Wisteria.) And while we're discussing things, can we talk about boring days please.....)

- Clear away the clutter. (Ha, ha, ha - I have a big house and a lot of kid stuff that I refuse to take full responsibility for. If the man wants a clutter-free house, he may have to hire someone or have a word with the "clutterers".)Make one last trip through the main part of the house before your husband arrives. (I struggle with this one, as it was clearly written in the USA. There is no "main part of the house". It's all open plan; there are no doors; when you clean up one room it only serves to make the next room look like a tip.)

- Over the cooler months (which would be most of the year in Chicago) you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. (Thank God we have that fake gas stuff, which even he can't ever light.) Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order (splutter, splutter) and it will give you a lift too. (No - it will mean I've run away to the local spa.) After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction. (Oh, it does, it does.)

Excuse me while I return to this planet for a while. I will definitely be commenting on the rest of the "commands" in the next posts!



  1. Ah, is that why I'm now divorced?

  2. I was snickering through this whole post and read all the commands and was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes.

  3. I've just spent a few minutes with my head down on my desk. Laughing. I don't think this is quite what you meant by using an adult diaper, but since I had none available I used a roll of paper towels to sop up the tears of mirth that were falling down my face! And rolling onto the floor...yes, lets call them tears!

  4. But, have you got a ribbon in your hair as you write? Okay, off to make myself lovely before he comes in (hmmm, this could take some time).

  5. sounds just like another day in the life of Lakeland Jo, especially the ribbon

  6. What, no warming of the slipers, lighting of the pipe or mixing of the martini? These must be in the next installation, surely.

    Great stuff, looking forward to the next.

    P.S. - any chance of adding the Name/URL option for comments?

  7. THanks for sharing this. Isn't it sad how standards have slipped since the 50s? ;)

  8. Amity - tell me where to look and I'll have a go. (Not very good technically). Also, FYI everyone, there is always (well almost always) a good supply of chilled Sierra Nevada for the Ball & Chain, and a corner shop that's less than a stone's throw for emergencies.
    Dave - Ha, bloody ha!

  9. Excuse me while I pick myself off the floor.

  10. Brilliant comments! I really needed this right now! Thanks for brightening up my day, they do say laughter is the best medicine!!

  11. I have read this before but it is great to read again and your comments too are brilliant.
    We can laugh at it now but it was deadly serious in the fifties!

  12. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

    I was NOT cut out for the 50's!


  13. Aagghh! I had a mouth full of wine - what a waste!

  14. Was this written by a man or a woman? If it was a woman, she probably spent her day ignoring the kids, chugging the wine back and slapping on a bit of lipstick 15 minutes before he got home. At least I hope she did.

  15. They forgot to mention taking the Valium pill--isn't that what 1950's women did to stay sane?

    Anyway, I have found that kids at their friends houses and a roll of clingfilm (seran wrap) and a martini waiting for him when he comes through the door friday night makes up for a week of ribbonless welcomes.

    Im kidding.

    I'm going to be even crazier and say that I can kind of see the logic in this list. Ive seen this list before and thought, 'yeah, I bet that makes him happy. And a happy man is a much easier man to Man Manage.' So I do admit to a teeny-weensy bit of this. I declutter the spaces I know he'll see: kitchen, bedroom, living room (at least the space by the tv). It's magic.

    I just don't suit ribbons though.

  16. I must be just the opposite. I deliberately don't tidy up so he can see how little the kids do around the house.
    And sadly - it took me more than a few seconds to figure out where the cling film fitted in!

  17. That is the funniest thing I've read in ages.

    My sister once had a book on secretary's etiquette from a similar era. It suggested that if your boss (male, obviously) should break wind, the secretary should cover his embarrassment by quickly dropping something and saying "goodness, what a clatter" or some similar diversionary tactic.

  18. I am 100% certain that if the Ball & Chain let one go in a meeting, there's no amount of distraction would expunge the evidence. Downtown Chicago might well have to be evacuated for a brief period.

  19. Let's keep in mind that this was written in the 50's for one, and for two, how many people were divorced in the 50's? Not as many as today. Yeah, it's funny to you, b/c you're a femanist or whatever, but in all actuallity, if you took these ideas and altered them for the 21st century, these are the things that keep a marriage together. Don't get me wrong, the man has a part in all of this too; it is the 21st century, after all, but women need to please their men, and men need to please their women; that's what makes marriage work.
    I, for one, am ashamed at what American culture has become. This is so sad.

  20. This article has been all but proven to be a fake. The photo was not from Housekeeping Monthly at all. Please read all the way through:


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