Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Manly Man's Guide to the Domestic Arts

“Home life as we understand it is no more natural to us than a cage is natural to a cockatoo.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

What would have happened if Paleolithic man had stayed in the cave all day, lightly braising mammoth chops? The women would have had to hunt mammoth, and you know how women are. Instead of just driving the furry buggers over a cliff, they would have enticed their mammoth into a primitive barn stall, fed it leftovers, washed and curried it, and tied garlands of rawhide ribbons and flowers in its fur. Then, the next time you wanted to lightly braise some mammoth chops for the big game, the women would scream, “Kill Muffin?! You beast! How could you?” and start to cry. Before you know it, you’re starving, miserable, and sewing drapes for Muffin’s stall.

Cooking, housework, and home repair for that matter, are not natural instincts for old bachelors such as myself. Any day I can manage to just get my pants on is a good day. I wouldn’t say that I’m lazy or slovenly exactly, just that I’m not very skilled in the domestic arts.

I’m a completely helpless idiot when it comes to tools and appliances. In fact, I haven’t used my Dirt Devil vacuum for anything other than masturbating in years*. I’ll even go on record right now by saying that cooking and cleaning are, in fact, women’s work. It’s just doesn’t satisfy my strong masculine hunter/killer instincts…not even close.

Nowhere encoded in my male DNA are the instinctual desires to accessorize or housekeep. We hunt, hump, and from time to time, “tinker” with stuff. At no time do we feel the need to dust, do the dishes, or fold the laundry. Hey, who am I to argue with thousands of years of social conditioning and domestic evolution anyway? If the apron fits…**

Perhaps for those guys, who happen to find themselves in agreeable domestic partnerships, housework may have perhaps become more easy and understandable over time by means of osmosis. It becomes more of a learned behavior as opposed to an instinctual one. After all, a man can only be nagged about stuff for so long before he is finally compelled to do something about it ***.

For the rest of us hopeless bachelors, however, who have never been trained in the ways of housework, these simple domestic duties are about as important and vital as moldy cheese.

Sure, sure, there is the belief that all men are handy and inventive. MacGuyver led the world to believe that he could build a swamp buggy out of an elastic band, a pencil eraser, and an overripe cantaloupe, and in doing so gave birth to the notion of an advanced, adaptable, technologically gifted uber-man. But the real truth of the matter is, we dudes couldn’t even prepare a simple casserole if our lives depended on it.

At least I can’t. And, so, this home survival guide is intended then for all those other chauvinistic rubes out there, such as myself.

To ensure survival, the first obstacle to overcome for the consummate bachelor is that of the kitchen. Unfortunately, thanks to numerous scientific researches, one cannot live on take out pizza alone ****. So if you don’t want to rely on sucking on Bouillon cubes for sustenance, you eventually will have to develop some skills, no matter how trivial or mundane, in order to survive.

First you have to start with the essentials. A bachelor needs a fully equipped kitchen like he needs a hole in the head. Keep just these basics on hand instead:

Buck knife
Fire extinguisher
Box of Band-Aids
Bottle of Jack Daniels
Alka Seltzer
Duct tape
A long stick
An empty baked beans can *****

With these few items, any bachelor can prepare a four-course meal, as well as heal from it. Whisks, ladles, slotted spoons, cheese graters, garlic presses, vegetable peelers, potato mashers, and other such needless kitchen utensils only confuse the preparation process. You don’t have to be MacGuyver to figure out that you can substitute an old dress sock in place of a colander if you really need to.

The next obstacle to overcome for the bachelor manly man is that of the actual cooking. Nevermind learning to use all those fancy ass kitchen utensils, just understanding most recipes and package cooking directions is like expecting us to translate ancient Greek. I’ve seen supposedly “easy to prepare” dishes that required me to decipher and follow a set of coded instructions that involved complex calculations that would confuse Steven Hawking. That isn’t cooking – that’s high school Calculus class all over again!

However, you don’t have to be Chef Ramsey to follow most recipe directions. Just make sure you have access to a telephone with over a hundred pre-programmed fast food restaurants on the automatic dial instead. I have found that learning to pre-program all those numbers in your Nokia is far easier than trying to understand the preparation instructions on a box of Hamburger Helper.

All in all, forget about “cooking” and focus on getting a live-in Italian girlfriend instead who has learned those passed down skills from her mother. The rest will take care of itself in time. In the meantime, there's microwave dinners.

If you really must insist on preparing your meals yourself, forget the kitchen and take everything outside to the Barbecue. Outside, the tables are turned and we men are in our natural element. There’s simply nothing that comes more natural to bachelor men than grilling meat over an open fire. Just crack open a beer, throw some raw flesh on the grill, and stare and poke at it until it’s sufficiently burned. There’s nothing you can’t barbecue. Shit, you could probably grill the hell out a bowl of Cheerios if you were so inclined.

The only added tip I could recommend should you choose to take this route would be to be careful of grilling under low overhanging tree branches, awnings, or eaves troughs. And remember, spilling, or purposely adding your beer to whatever it is you’re barbecuing will only enhance the dish.

Beer is the manly man’s elan vital.

So now that we’ve identified a way to prevent starvation we can begin to focus on the even less pleasant and unnatural labors of actual housework.

I am going to sub-divide housework into the areas of “cleaning” and “renovation”. Neither are particularly desirable ways to spend the weekend, but will sometimes be necessary when you host poker nights or the fifteen minutes before your mother arrives to bring you leftovers. Usually both processes are hurried, disorganized, and thoroughly in vain; much like Sisyphus pushing his rock forever uphill.

Personally, I’d rather be the guest of honor at a Duke lacrosse toga party than be coerced into either cleaning my apartment or making those much needed repairs. At times I’m sure, the sanitary conditions of my apartment much have been on par with that of a Thermopylae field hospital, but whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!

Cleaning and home renovations are things that are really best learned on ones own. Only through repeated bruisings and scarring will you develop and improve your skills in these specific areas. I will still, however, try to give you some tips on how to make the whole tribulation less painful. Understanding that no man would ever want to do housework, these tips will hopefully serve to put you in the proper mindset in order to accomplish the task should it ever be deemed necessary.

1) Protective gloves are for pussies. Latex, leather, rawhide, cotton, construction, cut resistant, heat resistant, flame resistant, safety, whatever, save the gloves for the bedroom puppet shows. A true manly man would sooner dip his hands in battery acid than put on a pair of protective gloves to scrub pots and pans.

2) All cleaning and home repairs MUST be performed with your pants off. I don’t why, must that’s just the way the universe works. No matter if you’re changing a light bulb, replacing fuses, or cleaning up chip crumbs with a Shop-Vac, natural science demands that you remove your pants first for best results. Men just simply think better with their pants off. I guess, considering how much blood is usually being pumped to our swollen erections throughout the regular day, pants can significantly cut off the circulation of blood back to our brains when we attempt to do home repair. This also explains the loose waistbands of professional repairmen.

3) Just like having the right tools for the job, you must also have the right soundtrack. Ambiance is everything when one is engaged in housework. I find that the Doors are the preferred listening of choice when you’re working on plumbing-related repairs. Nothing beats listening to ‘Break On Through’ while you’re snaking a bathroom drain! Likewise, I would also recommend Parliament, or Funkadelic for your vacuuming; Robert Johnson (or other traditional Delta Blues) for dusting; Techno (or some other past-faced Electronica music) for all electrical repairs; Van Morrison for doing the dishes; Steppenwolf while waxing the car; Bruce Hornsby for folding laundry; and maybe, Nine Inch Nails, or Einsturzende Neubauten perhaps, when scrubbing the shitter.

4) Milk Crates are an immensely valuable item around the house, apartment, flat, squat, whatever. At times, they are more valuable than gold. If bachelors were allowed to control the world, plastic milk crates would be a tradable commodity on the Stock Market.

These versatile by-products of the Space Program can easily be procured by raiding the alley behind any local McDonalds. They have a thousand practical uses: bookshelf, laundry hamper, futon base, coffee table, bong stand, foot rest, filing cabinet, or the replacement step off the back porch. Gold I tellz ya.

5) Let’s get one thing straight: manly men don’t “decorate”. We “accumulate”. Don’t spend too much time beyond strategically placing milk crates around the room because you’ll only overload your circuits. Decorating, to manly men, might entail the making of a beer can pyramid in the corner of the room or hanging a nude picture of Cameron Diaz on the bathroom door. Apart from that, we just fill in blank space with our quickly accumulating wealth of doodads and gewgaws.

Bachelor’s are like blue jays in this manner. If our acquired collection of amassed stuff happens to lend itself together well, in something resembling a mildly aesthetically pleasing structured order, it was completely unintended and coincidental.

6) When it comes to pest control – move.

If reading recipe directions were difficult, than your mixing of chemical compounds in any regular run-of-the-mill Ant Trap, would result in the global outbreak of something that would make the Ebola virus look like a heat rash.

7) I have also chosen to include yard work as a form of housework. Suffice to say; yard work blows chunks. Anyone who’s sharper than a cue ball would instantly realize that yard work is an impossible on-going battle. In my opinion, clear cut the whole yard, pave it, and make it a basketball court, or horseshoe pit, or something requiring less maintenance instead.

I don’t understand how some men get excited about working in their yards. I can’t recall any historical records indicating that the Vikings, the Mongol hordes, Romans legionnaires, Zulu warriors, or any other significant ancient marauding civilization for that matter, ever gave two shits about their front yards. To think that our lawns are a pathetic suburban imitation of the pasture land or park surrounding an eighteen-century manor house is completely laughable. And since we don’t graze sheep in our flowerbeds or course deer down the driveway with a pack of greyhounds, what the fuck is the point?

Think of it this way: manly men have only been on this planet for four million years. Who took care of the yard before we got here? I think the real beauty of nature is that it doesn’t require to be dusted, vacuumed, polished, or dry-cleaned.

So leave it alone.

(to be con'd...)

* Don’t be so surprised! Just think about it: quick, convenient, and even deals with the mess afterwards.

** I would have said, “when the shoe fits”, but any self-respecting woman of mine wouldn’t be caught in my kitchen wearing shoes.

*** And, hopefully, that doesn’t involve anything resulting in a criminal trial afterwards.

**** One can, however, live an extremely long time through stretches of ongoing laziness during a playoff season, but it’s not recommended.

***** To collect the excess cooking fat and grease afterwards. It’s not just the sensible thing to do to prevent plumbing clogs and complications in the near future, but it’s the proper CANADIAN thing to do! I recommend using an empty can of Heinz Baked Beans. No other type of can or product brand will do. It’s even written into our national statutes and legal regulations I’m sure.


Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Awesome post and am looking forward to part two.

Don't assume this is just a male thing, either. I'm not keen on any housekeeping and only clean my toilet when the ring around the toilet starts looking like something from a science experiment gone awry.

1:41 PM  

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