“DOES A MORE EQUAL MARRIAGE MEAN LESS SEX?” So ponders Lori Gottlieb of The New York Times. It seems, upon reading, that women prefer us men when we’re all sweaty after a hard day’s work, or a workout at the gym, rather than when we are sweeping up broken toys or washing pots and pans or folding the laundry. “The greater the husband’s share of masculine chores compared with feminine ones, the greater his wife’s satisfaction.”
For the most part, I agree, except when it comes to cooking, because I don’t think that making food is a “feminine” activity. I started cooking not only because I was encouraged to by a feminist mother, but also because I was hungry, and I thought that I could make a better meal than most of the ones available to me. So, I’ll be damned if womankind is going to steal “cooking” from me as a “feminine chore.” I mean, seriously, fuck you. And don’t ask me. Ask Clemenza and Michael Corleone. In this classic scene from The Godfather, Clemenza instructs young Michael on the nuances of making the sauce. “Come over here, kid. Learn something. You never know. You might have to cook for 20 guys some day. Start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste. You fry it, you make sure it doesn’t stick. When it comes to a boil, you shove in all of your sausages and meatballs. Add a little bit of wine. And a little bit of sugar. And it’s perfect.”
Anyway, The New York Times piece was supposed to be provocative. We have been raised to think of egalitarian couplings as ideal. Yet egalitarianism might lead to a lackluster love life, and that can’t be good in this world where we are all expected to be everything and have everything. Yet after reading it, I have to agree with it, not because I endorse old school divisions of labor, but because, apart from cooking, doing the dishes and laundry has never got me going either. Washing a frying pan is tedious, folding towels is dull. And I don’t think there was one time when I felt like, “God, all of this vacuuming of the living room is really turning me on.” These are activities that frustrate a person, not make them more likely to head for the sheets. I do remember when I was out shoveling snow all morning in Estonia, though, that when I was finished, certain primitive synapses rewired themselves, and there was less thinking and more forward motion. My female counterpart, meantime, who was seated in the same position as when I left her, was now radiant and gorgeous. So, something very funny was going on, and shoveling snow had something to do with it.
There was also that time I cycled across Vormsi Island, and then went into the cafe to purchase a beverage to quench my thirst. I had sweat stains all over my shirt and smelled like a horse and spoke with the demanding, rapid-fire cadence of a psychotic, but I did sense a tingling curiosity from the otherwise alarmed seller behind the counter, something like, “Holy shit, I better give this guy his Evian or else.” Or else nothing. But I am sure it was the most memorable bottle of Evian she sold all week.