What’s For Dinner? Who Gives a Shit!
About two years ago, my boyfriend T and I decided that I would shop and cook, and he would pay me a part-time salary to do it. It seemed like a good idea. I had more time, he had more money. It just made sense. I even wrote an article praising our arrangement and was full of good feelings about the whole thing, feelings that remained for a good long while, until they went away.
It started with lunch. I would wake up with an idea of something I wanted to start writing, or the energy to continue on something I already started, and I would be like for the love of Christ I have to go make a sandwich right now, fuck that so hard. I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal but I think I am just bad at wanting to do something (writing) but having to do something first (make a sandwich). Once I make the sandwich, I am just not the same person I was before I made it.
I started waking up mad, thinking how I was going to have to figure out what we were going to eat. And then I was going to have to make sure we had all the ingredients. And then I was going to have to make it. And I wouldn’t have to necessarily clean up, but once I cooked the kitchen would be a disaster, and someone would have to clean it up. And if it was T, I would feel kind of bad, because the point of this was that he worked a lot and I wanted him to be able to relax when he came home.
I wanted this for him not so much because I was his girlfriend but because I was also his friend. Working all day is hard, draining, exhausting, debilitating, demoralizing even. I had wanted to make his lunch and dinner so that working was all he had to do because I wanted to be a good friend to him, not just a good “wife.” And, as I said, for a while this was fine, even enjoyable and then, I just couldn’t do it anymore, and I thought, I would rather not be paid to do this and just not do it.
I am not quite sure how we will swing everything. T still makes more money than I do and barring a miracle probably always will. I still like cooking and shopping more than he does, I am still better at both. But the arrangement is off, and there’s no long term plan, just a cabinet full of Top Ramen. I don’t eat Top Ramen. I have been making myself sandwiches. Sometimes I make T one too. Sometimes he makes me one. I do worry about T getting enough vitamins, which probably means I should see a psychiatrist.
I would like to add that T was worried I would come to be annoyed by our wages for housework arrangement and argued against it. I was the one who lobbied harder for it. Now that it is done though, I must admit that I relish the idea of seeing him fully realize how much I used to do. He does a lot too—he deep cleans more than I do, he is religious about a pristine stovetop, and right now he is fixing our porch. And in all honesty, I have never touched a hammer, a nail, a screwdriver, I don’t even know what WD-40 does. But let’s face facts. No one fixes the porch two or three times a day every day for their entire life. Cooking and shopping for meals is so much work and it is constant and the amount of space it takes up in the mind is beyond reason. This is my remarkable insight on this fine day.
I made T a sandwich tonight. “Is this sandwich for love?” he asked. “Not for money?”
I told him I made him a sandwich because I knew he wanted one and I happened to have some free time. “It’s really good,” he said, and I said I was glad he liked it, and I really was.