I've just returned from a week spent with about a dozen women writers of women's and romance fiction. To the one, we all professed to be challenged housekeepers and cooks.
We are not domestic goddess material.
So how do women who profess no domestic skills function on their own in a cloistered environment in which they write all day and most of the night with no expectations placed on them to do anything else?
Do they go around in dirty clothes? Is the kitchen littered with empty pizza boxes?
Are pots, utensils and dishes piling up in the sink?
In short, like a bunch of guys.
No. It does not mean that.
When a woman professes to have no domestic skills, it is not in comparison to guys.
Take my house for instance. When I had all my guys - the Hubster, Surfer Dude and Manchild #2 - under one roof, when I went away for a few days, I came to undone laundry (unless you call laundry distributed to every square inch of all the bedroom floors with the occasional sock dangling from the ceiling light fixture, "done.")
I found empty pasta cans at various locations throughout the house. Why? I have no idea.
I would discover newspapers (not that I discourage newspaper use of any kind) pulled apart and littering the couch, the rest of the floor that was not already covered by laundry and on the tables.
By comparison, a dozen women who profess no domestic skills and live together for not just a weekend, but for an entire week, should at least come close to a little mess, shouldn't they?
In reality this is what the beach house looked like during our stay. The dishes were all washed and put away, the garbage was emptied regularly - including recyclables - there was no paper or laundry on the floors or tables or sofas.
The women were all nicely dressed and well coifed in clean clothes. The reason they had clean clothes is not because they over-packed. It was because of the laundry room.
It was in constant use. I kid you not, there was actually a line to get in there to wash a towel or two, a few bits of clothing, sheets. It was without a doubt the busiest room in the house.
The kitchen. For women who say they don't cook - and I am one of them - the kitchen was also very popular. We cooked great dinners then sat around the table chatting about what our characters had done that day.
As one of the other women writers and I sat on the deck late one afternoon, discussing potential plot twists, enjoying a little liquid refreshment, one of the other women emerged from the nearby kitchen, carrying a plate of hot - not just warm - HOT chocolate chip cookies.
"I thought you might like to have some cookies. I just made them."
Well, she didn't have to ask us twice. They were gone in a second and those were possibly the best cookies I'd ever eaten. It doesn't get any better than that.
So for a bunch of women who make no claims on being the ruler by which all good housekeeping is measured, we failed pretty badly.
What I have decided is that the mark has been set so high by the likes of Martha (and you know of whom I speak, and even Oprah with her fabulous lifestyle) that no matter how adequate we might be at housewifery, we fall short in our own minds by comparison. So this is my new yardstick. It's not Rachel, or Martha or Oprah, but a house full of guys.
That's the new benchmark. By comparison we will look good. Really good.
We are women who can write. But we can also fold underwear, turn on a dishwasher and make the occasional casserole.
As it turns out, we're not half bad.
Contact Judy Watts at firstname.lastname@example.org or 873-9424, ext. 220.