Friday, December 28, 2007

The List

As soon as I had finished writing The Dog House I knew I would have to write a story from another point of view. Here is a story which I think I have written before but I don't know where.

It happened when my children were young and I was a stay-at-home suburban housewife with time to go over to my neighbour's house and sit for a mug of coffee in the kitchen while the children entertained themselves with their playmates in the bedroom or playroom.

On this occasion, my son decided to play superman and you all know what that means. He climbed the highest piece of furniture in sight and took a flying dive across the room. He didn't injure himself. (Now that he is grown up, he has just finished training with the parachute division that lands jumps the lowest and lands the hardest in the world. Some things never change.)

But let me get back to my story. I sat in the kitchen with my friend and drank coffee and let the boys be boys. My eyes wandered over to a list on the refrigerator door. It was written on an endless piece of adding machine tape, the kind that makes a nice little scroll about three inches wide and two feet long and curls up at the bottom. But this was held flat by those little refrigerator magnets in the shape of a fruit, a banana or an pineapple.

I studied the list and thought about it. It was a list of chores, most of which would require the use of a tool or two. Some things were quite easy, change the washers on the bathroom faucet; some were a little more difficult and required the ability to handle heavier tools. I was impressed and I looked at my friend and asked,

"You do all those things. You must be quite handy."

"Oh, no," she answered, "That is a list for Sean. Those are the things that he needs to get done. But he comes home so late, I don't know when he'll get anything done. How do you get your husband to do anything?"

I changed the subject. This was out of my experience altogether. I had never written a list for another person in my life, and I still haven't.

I am surprised that Sean came home at all.

In the evening when you drive down the rear lanes and you see lights on in the garages and sheds, you will know that in some of those humble shelters there is a husband here and a wife over there, each preferring their damp discomfort to the warmth and tyranny of their home.

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