Inspirational thoughts and random writings from the alumni and friends of Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Of Coffee and Clutter

By Kristi Paxton

I fingered through a pile of magazines yesterday while waiting for my mammogram. “Good Housekeeping” was on top. Instead, I reached for “Men’s Journal.” I suppose this makes me ripe for gender counseling, but let me explain.

Men’s Journal’s cover promised topics about YellowstonePark, Training for a Triathlon and How to Build a Better Kitchen. Well OK, there was one lame title, “Golf Gone Wild,” but the full headshot of Jake Gyllenhaal more than made up for that slip-up.

In comparison, Good Housekeeping sported headshots of three movie stars aged 37, 44 and 55. Judging by appearance each had a personal trainer, a zillion dollars and a full-time makeup artist. Front page copy insinuated that women could be happiest at these advanced ages, and that sex and sit-ups (and cleaning house?) would guarantee it. I’m not buying.

Merely a title “Good Housekeeping” is enough to scare me off. In 1974, my boy-husband and I wanted to rent a dilapidated farm house and the landlord had only one qualifying question: “Is your wife a good housekeeper?” Granted, the 70s were unenlightened times, but I wanted to point and scream, “What about him?”

In 1994 and in full illumination of the women’s movement, I landed an interview for a coveted promotion. Same question. Shocked, I begged for clarification, “Are you asking about the organization of my office and safety of my workroom floor?” My interviewer replied, “No. How clean is your home? I can always judge a woman by how well she cleans her house.”If that question had been asked a male—well, that’s a moot point because it never has been asked of a male.

Today, I’m just using all of this as an excuse for not keeping an immaculate house and an excuse to rant about it. Most days I’d rather read a book, bake something yummy, paddle my kayak, attend boot camp or enjoy a root canal. Not clean house.

OK. I did peek inside the cover of that waiting room GH magazine and saw—buried in all the articles about glamour, sex and cleaning—one tiny title that caught my eye:“Good (enough) Housekeeping.”

Guess I’ll pick up the big chunks, do some laundry and enjoy a cup of coffee on the deck. Good enough!

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