Tuesday, August 21, 2007
If I could turn back time
Saturday night we were at an African themed dinner party at a friend’s house.
“Can I do anything to help?” I asked hopefully, poking my head into the kitchen. If I didn't help now, I’d be one of the ones stuck doing the dishes after dinner.
“No thanks,” replied my husband, as he prepared a spicy Moroccan vegetable dish.
“No, it’s all under control,” L said as he slid marinated prawns onto a skewar.
“Sure, can you take this drink out to my wife?” asked D, checking the coconut rice pilaf.
I left the three men in the kitchen, measuring, chopping, sipping wine, and laughing as they put the big meal together. I bet they slapped each other’s ass after a particularly good taste test, just like after a sweet goal on the rink.
A generation ago it would have been different. The kitchen would not be a testosterone zone when dinner was prepared. It was the 70’s, and women were driving the equality train, demanding that men take their share of household work. But most men then had not been brought up learning how to cook. Meal preparation was a mystery. So they dutifully (or under threat of no sex) took on the job of cleaning the kitchen up after meals. My father, for example, jumps up after a meal and heads to the kitchen, where he washes, wipes, scrubs, and packages and labels leftovers with military precision. Every item in the dishwasher goes in its assigned place. (He once accused me of “dishwasher anarchy” when I loaded it.) Dad’s lack of culinary skill is legendary, so he took on the job of chief pot scrubber without complaint.
These days, one person cooks, the other cleans up, just like in the 70’s. It’s only fair. But now, our men cook! They look up recipes, try out new spices, even (gasp) wear aprons. Their enlightened mothers taught them what a kitchen is for. They took mandatory home-ec at school. Men are now liberated from the prison of pot scrubbing and plate scraping. They get to experience the creative side of the spatula. They bask in praise from their dinner guests. They bond over woks. This is a splendid development. My brothers, I rejoice with you in your freedom from baked-on grease!
Oh bullshit. Women were subjugated by men for thousands of years. Couldn’t we have kept men scrubbing all the crusty pans for just a little while longer?
Today's dream travel destination: 1979.