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Following gender roles, or maybe not

Burt's Eye View

Pro tip for husbands: I have never been yelled at for washing dishes.

I have been told ahead of time to leave the dishes alone, that it’s not my responsibility, that she’ll wash them when she comes home. But I’ve noted that if I sneak into the kitchen and do them, I don’t get a lecture; I’m showered with smiles, hugs and kisses.

It’s sort of like when you ask her what she wants for her birthday or anniversary, and she waves you off with, “Nothing.” Guys, I promise you, she doesn’t mean it. Don’t walk into the house empty-handed unless you want to suffer severe frostbite in June.

I’d rather get a clump of gas station roses at 2 a.m. on my way home from a late night at work than allow her to wake up on a special day to nothing but a snoring husband with nothing up his pajama sleeves.

Trust me, even if you’re a household that subscribes to the traditional roles for husband (pound things with hammers, drill holes and kill spiders) and wife (clean up after all his messes) — do yourself a huge favor and wash the dishes now and again.

But wait, there’s more. I changed plenty of diapers in my day, something my own dad wouldn’t do. Not that I’m complaining. Back in those dinosaur days, diapers were cloth and required safety pins. Dad’s thick workman’s fingers weren’t designed for the delicate work of jabbing pins through cloth without drawing blood — mine.

Also, think of the vacuum as a power tool and run it. And I bet you can bake a cake or casserole once in a while, too. You may not care for housework (neither does she), but the rewards can be exhilarating.

I have, however, been rebuffed for washing clothes in a mindless manner (in my defense, it’s not exactly a mentally stimulating exercise). Apparently, it’s the job of the person doing the laundry to check pockets for errant ink pens. And if one forgets, you definitely don’t bake freshly inked sheets in the dryer. Not again, anyway.

Plus, there are all sorts of mysterious rules about sorting colors and fabrics into different loads to be washed and dried at various temperatures and time settings.

Guys, if you are too ignorant to crack the code (I’m raising my hand here), it’s best not to surprise your sweetie by laundering her sweaters and gowns. Oh, it’ll be a surprise, but not the kind in which the ensuing physical activity includes hugs and kisses.

I got to thinking about traditional gender roles while watching TV and eating cookies as Terry folded laundry. I had just surprised Terry by fixing a delicious and wonderful home-cooked supper for us all by myself.

One of those new commercials came on featuring women welding iron, felling trees with chain saws, rebuilding engines, hammering barn beams and performing all manner of so-called “guy stuff.”

“Why do they never show women in a kitchen anymore?” Terry huffed. “What’s so wrong with wanting to take care of your family?” On the TV screen, a woman in a flannel shirt drove a pickup the size of a moose on steroids through the wilds to build a cabin with nothing but a handsaw and a hunting knife. “Her kids are gonna live on nothing but Cheez-Its and cartons of chocolate milk if she’s leaving the cooking up to her husband.”

Hey, I grabbed the cheddar, sour cream and onion flavor Cheez-Its. Best of all, there were no dishes to wash. That’s the last time I surprise her by fixing supper.

• Send recipes to Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or at burtonwcole.com.

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