This Valentine’s Day I thought I would try something new with my wife. Rather than the usual chocolates or flowers sent to her office, I figured I’d get a little more creative. What could possibly go wrong? Since the answer is a lot, I did a pre-Valentine’s Day test run.
Recently an exerpt from a 1950 home economic magazine has been making the rounds on social media showing what it deemed was expected of the ideal wife in 1950.
Well holy cow – things changed in the last 68 years! However, I consider myself to be a student of history, so I thought an interesting social experiment would be to try out a few of these tips on my spouse and see if it works as my go-to Valentine’s gift.
Just a reminder, I am a stay-at-home dad who handles the diapers, laundry and (feeble attempts at) cooking while my wife is the breadwinner of the household. She is also a devout believer of women’s rights, believes glass ceilings are there to be shattered and will split my uprights with her right foot if I call her the “weaker sex.”
Tip 1: Prepare Yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives.
One of the first tips recommended for the 1950s housewife was to take fifteen minutes “to touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking.” So, just like the article said, I greeted her at the door complete with a liberal amount of eye shadow, a bow in my hair and partially shaved legs. Without the benefit of posting a picture of it (because the internet never forgets), let me help you draw a mental picture of what she met upon opening the door.
Apparently a little eyeshadow goes a long way and a lot of eyeshadow makes me look like a cross dresser at a Panic At The Disco concert. I also learned that when I tie a hair bow it looks a lot more like a boy scout clove hitch knot. I have not seen my wife that unamused since the last time we paid to see an Adam Sandler movie. Maybe I will have better luck making her feel comfortable with the next tip.
Tip 2: Make Him Comfortable
The article said to make sure his favorite drink is waiting for him. Also to encourage him to lay down, fluff the pillows, take off his shoes and speak to him in a warm, soft soothing voice. I can do this.
After mixing a martini (that was probably somewhere in the 185 proof range), I directed her towards the couch so she could lean back take a sip of the cocktail and softly encouraged her to tell me about her day. She responded with, “Why are you talking all creepy and trying to get me drunk? What did you break today? Is the baby ok?”
Strike two for me. I am starting to see why closet alcoholism was a big thing in the 1950’s.
Tip 3: Minimize All Noise
Another helpful tip from the decade that brought us drive-in theaters, gelatin molds, and the cold war was to minimize noise in the house and quiet the children for his arrival. “Make sure the appliances are not running and encourage the children to be quiet.”
Apparently the 1950’s also birthed science fiction because in the 21st century of battery operated toys and spacious, hardwood-floored, open-concept floor plans, this was going to be a toughy! But I am committed to the cause!
I made sure the laundry was caught up and the dishwasher was empty. I then stealthily removed all the AA batteries from our toddler’s toys and feed him as much tryptophan loaded turkey as his chubby little belly could handle. Next I bathed the toddler and sequestered him in (what I previously thought) was a baby proofed area.
I’ve got this handled, I thought! All was going surprisingly well until my wife continuously asked our toddler (who is apparently immune to tryptophan) a series of opened ended questions to which he felt compelled to scream the answers. He also somehow got his hands on the cable TV remote which he used to max out the volume, program the DVR to record C-SPAN and even possibly retasked a satellite! Those things are designed to be very intuitive.
Our cat then found a couple of music producing cars that our toddler had stashed underneath the couch for just such an occasion. And just for good measure, it turns out that was also the evening our neighbors decided to hire a demolition crew to tear out their concrete in-ground pool in their backyard. I had no idea dynamite was allowed within city limits.
My final conclusion (based on real world science) about the 1950 home economic magazine article is that the writer was living in a fantasy land populated with flying saucers, mermaids, unicorns, and other mythical creatures. I would also venture to guess the author lived a lifestyle closer to resembling a liquid lunch drinking stereotypical “Mad Men” character than that of an actual stay-at-home parent. It’s hard to believe this was in our parent’s lifetimes. What do you think we’ll be saying 50 years from now?
Guess I’ll be buying the chocolates and flowers after all!