Jewish World Review May 12, 2003 / 10 Iyar, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

Army mops up; Tony Blair doesn't | Prime Minister Tony Blair may be good at winning wars, but when it comes to dusting and vacuuming, he's a total dud.

At least that's the opinion of his wife, Cherie, who was recently in Australia attending a women's rights conference.

The prime minister's wife told the audience, "I am always quite astonished when I read surveys about how many hours (of housework) men are supposed to do, because in my experience they don't do any at all."

I am glad that Mrs. Blair waited until the war was over before making this statement. I can just imagine what former Iraqi Minister of Information Saeed al-Sahhaf would have done with this:

"The infidel Blair and his cowardly mercenaries are committing suicide by the hundreds at the gates of Baghdad while their oppressed wives are forced to mop floors and brush their husbands' godless toenail clippings from the coffee table. God and the Iraqi army will roast their lazy spleens in hell."

Housework, of course, is an age-old source of friction between husbands and wives. I think a lot of the problem stems from the fact that women and men have a different definition of housework. To a woman, housework consists of horrible things like cleaning the oven or getting down on your hands and knees with a toothbrush and cleanser and scrubbing the grout of the shower stall.

A man's definition of housework, on the other hand, is throwing his beer cans in the general direction of the trash can.

But I fear that Mrs. Blair's comments have turned up the heat on this issue. After all, if the British Prime Minister cannot be excused from doing housework while he is conducting a major war in a distant country, what hope is there for the rest of us?

All of a sudden previous excuses that men used to get out of housework will no longer work, including:

"I'd love to help you with the dishes, honey, but I need to conserve my energy for my golf game tomorrow."

"Don't think of it as dust; think of it as the windblown remains of ancient prophets."

"Now's not a good time for me to vacuum; 'American Idol' is on."

"Large appliances frighten me."

"Layers of dirt and grime on windows provide protection from harmful rays of the sun."

"I don't want to disturb those piles of dog hair; I'm going to knit them into a rug."

"I'm too exhausted from flipping through all those channels."

"My allergist said I should avoid dust."

"If the bathroom's gone a year without cleaning, it can go another year."

"Why don't we just buy a new (oven, refrigerator, carpet, garage, house)?"

"Cleaning agents are harmful to the environment."

"If we shove it under the bed, no one will see it."

"Leave it for the maid."

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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