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Allow me to be sexist for a day.

Kris was working away Saturday, doing some chore or other, when she asked me, “What’s your schedule for today?”

“I don’t have one,” I said, and I could see that my answer made her tense.

“You are going to sweep the floors, though, right?” she asked, her voice filled with a blend of pleading and contempt.

I sighed, grabbed pen and paper, and drew a couple of diagrams that delineate the difference between how men and women view chores.

Women
Women have a list of chores. Each chore is a discreet item, with a scheduled time for beginning and a scheduled time for completion. If the list of chores is not completely finished by a given time, the woman is unfulfilled. She is tense.


Black ink by J.D., green ink by Kris

The woman derives great satisfaction from the methodic progression through the list. Dishes Washed? Check. Floors swept? Check Husband on task? Check.

Men
Men have a cloud of chores. In his mind, a guy is aware of the things that need to be finished (which, of course, include those items on his “honey-do” list, but also include other things like sorting comic books or watching the latest episode of Beauty and the Geek).


Black ink by J.D., green ink by Kris

The man doesn’t attempt to complete these items in any particular order. He might start emptying the trash, for example, and notice that there’s a stack of books that needs to be sorted. Sorting the stack of books might not have been in the cloud of chores before, but now it is, and in fact it seems more pressing, so he begins to sort the books. After he’s finished, he sits down to admire his handiwork. While he’s sitting there, he turns around in the chair to check his e-mail. His friend Dave has sent him a message asking him to burn a copy of the latest Battlestar Galactica episode, so he does. He takes this disc downstairs so that he won’t forget it on Monday, and while he’s in the mud room he notices that it’s sunny, so he might as well get the peas planted since that, too, is in the cloud of chores. He goes outside to do this, but his wife comes up and says, “Let’s go for a walk.” They do. On the walk, she mentions that she’d like to rearrange the living room furniture. Now, re-arranging the living room furniture was neither in his chore-cloud nor on her list of chores, but when they get home, they spend four hours pushing chairs, arranging plants, shifting bookshelves, etc. When they’ve finished, the man is pooped, but he’s happy. He’s done a lot today. True, he didn’t finish much in his cloud of chores, but he did get a lot of other stuff done, and those chores will still be there tomorrow. Or next weekend. He’s pleased. His wife, who views his cloud of chores as a list of chores, is not happy. The list is incomplete. In fact, it has barely been touched.

Conclusions
Obviously these are generalizations. Some women have a cloud of chores. Some men have a list of chores. Some members of each gender have some spooky hybrid. But, from my experience, the above descriptions are essentially correct. The challenge then, one of the primary objectives of marital relations, is to find a balance between the woman’s list of chores and the man’s cloud of chores.

Sometimes the answer to that challenge is Merry Maids.

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12 responses so far ↓
On 14 March 2006 (9:20 am), pril said:

every day i find more ways that i am less like the other people in my gender. how weird.


On 14 March 2006 (9:26 am), Jen said:

This is so, so, true of my husband and I. I have a chalkboard hanging up in the dining room and every day I make a list of what needs to be done on said chalkboard. I derive great satisfaction from swiping those items out of existence once I’ve completed them–that may in fact be the point of the chalkboard.


On 14 March 2006 (3:48 pm), Betsy said:

Pril, I’m with you - I’m a cloud-er all the way…!

(Lists that have to be completed in order make me tense…)


On 14 March 2006 (7:46 pm), Joel said:

Some members of each gender have some spooky hybrid.
Ha!


On 14 March 2006 (9:08 pm), summer said:

woot battlestar galactica!


On 15 March 2006 (5:54 am), Tiffany said:

Let me read your crystal ball…the clouds are clearing…I see more chores in your future.


On 15 March 2006 (10:37 am), Jason said:

Well, JD and I are both clouders, and a lot of men I know are (I remember a (male, but married) friend in college who only rented rooms to females (probably in violation of fair housing laws, but oh well). His reason “Men are slobs”. He was a slob, and I guess one per house was enough for him.
I do know male list-makers and female clouders, but it’s a helpful generalization. At least it explains my modus operandi pretty well.
As for the maids, well I’ve read Nickeled and dimed (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0805063889?v=glance)
and couldn’t stomach that. But there are independent cleaners who charge a fair wage.
Jason


On 15 March 2006 (10:57 am), Will said:

QFT.
In fact, printed out and crazy glued to fridge.

This reminds me of a theory a friend of mine from college has in regard to the states of women. Basically it boils down to three, with a possible fourth for inclusion pending additional research.
1. Hungry.
2. Tired.
3. Cold.
Honorable Mention: In need of a bathroom.
The theory holds that at least one state is likely active at any given time. But there is some evidence to show that a grouping of states can occur under the right conditions.
Originally this list was met with derision, but after some empirical examination, it is hauntingly accurate.


On 15 March 2006 (11:52 am), Drew said:

Fortunately, you are not positioned to be the next president of Harvard.


On 15 March 2006 (3:13 pm), Josh said:

Neither is the current president of Harvard.


On 16 March 2006 (4:39 pm), john said:

That is funny because that is exactly how I picture it in my head. Only floating around somewhere in my cloud of stuff to get done is the Honey Do List, and it is more like the women’s list. All listed and ready to be checked off.


On 20 August 2008 (8:02 am), Kirsten said:

this just seems like anal-retentive compared to ADD, not women to men…


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