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Guys will find their inner-foodie, become accomplished zesters and sauciers and understand the difference between Italian parsley and cilantro without...
Guys will find their inner-foodie, become accomplished zesters and sauciers and understand the difference between Italian parsley and cilantro without sniffing or tasting. Years later, when asked, "How was your Thanksgiving?" they'll be able to reply, "It was the best turkey I ever prepared!"
Their reward, in addition to becoming a kept man, having access to a live-in ATM, and earning a B.S. in Domestic Engineering, will be gaining the satisfaction of doing the right thing, as real men do. Domestic Engineer Guys also possess a secret; the path to the bedroom travels through the kitchen.
Successful completion of this undergraduate degree will elevate guys to Domestic God status in the eyes of their partner, and to the vaulted new 21st Century male label, Uber Guy.
You are jobless. Your elevator to the top floor just dropped faster than the net worth of Bernie Madoff's clients. Worse, you're not even allowed on the elevator. Besides mooning your former employer, you're lining up shoes to throw. Shoes are good. They won't leave a mark, but it is the symbolism that counts. And unless you hurl them at a leader of the free world, you won't end up in jail. You're commiserating with man-child Mongo in Blazing Saddles, who uttered these immortal words, "Mongo only pawn in game of life."
There is no chicken soup for the downsized. You're on your own.
There are seven stages of grief: shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and, finally, acceptance and hope. The goal is to blow through these stages like guys blow through a case of beer and get to acceptance and hope as quickly as possible. I've culled these seven stages into three: moping, fuming, and anger, with the common thread of boozing.
Get a good mope going. One to two months (if the severance package allows) is permissible. Anything longer becomes a whine, and no one likes a whiner, especially a male whiner. White male whiners and wieners are dregs of the Caucasian culture. Whiners are worse thanwieners or geeks. (Geeks are wieners with marketable skills.) At least geeks are multimillionaires. Macho males respect multimillionaires, even if they can't catch a football, a baseball, or chug a six-pack while dangling upside down. Besides, that geek you harassed in high school might be able to give you a job.
Fuming is one step beyond moping. When the sympathetic calls cease, calls just-to-stay-in-touch are not returned, and the wife merely nods and grunts, your fuming ticket has been punched. You learn the awful truth. Repeat after me-nobody cares! You also learn a historical truth. Every guy over forty has a life-delivers-a-two-by-four-between-the-eyes story. Hearing yours falls somewhere between having their testicles snipped, a lobotomy, or renewing their wedding vows.
After fuming comes anger. The good news is you don't own a gun, and you were never invited to the boss's holiday parties so you don't know where he lives. If you do own a gun, think of it this way-pulling the trigger, whether aimed at him or yourself, is not an "oops" move, unless you pointedly maim yourself to extend the sympathy. That would be a wiener move. See above. Throwing your former company's logo mug through the TV screen when one of their ads is airing can be cathartic but also expensive. You're left with using personnel photos ripped from the company's annual report for toilet tissue.
When your wife leaves a magazine opened to an anger management article, your anger ticket has also been punched. Find something else to punch, just don't kick the dog. You will need him later for when you are in the doghouse.
Boozing transcends the moping, fuming, and anger stages. If you had the good fortune of being downsized shortly after you made your monthly wholesale liquor run, you have several nights of memory blackouts ahead of you. Every day is Ballantine's Day. However, since you will be consuming stratospheric quantities versus your standard one or two adult beverages per night (primarily for health benefits), supplies dwindle rapidly. Upshot, you have three to four weeks before the cupboard is bare, or your liver turns you in for organ abuse. This could cut into your moping and fuming time. If you are alcohol-averse, a silo of Cheetos or Cinnabons the size of Sequoia stumps will fill in nicely. Your heart can turn you in for organ abuse.
You've been locked in a robotic routine for twenty-plus years, even on weekends. Your life was your resume. You look into the mirror and face a frightening reality, in addition to wondering when those lines arrived around your eyes and when more hair began growing in your ears than on your scalp. You have few close friends and no hobbies. Reading has been comprised of get-ahead business tutorials and Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum novels. Pure escapism. The kids never called you "Uncle Daddy," but you missed most of their Pop Warner, ballet, Little League games, and recitals. Except for vacations, the sex life had declined into mostly hallway sex. (This PG-modified joke goes: in a marriage there are three stages of sex: (1) early in the marriage the couple has sex in every room; (2) during the second stage the couple has sex only in the bedroom; and (3) the couple pass each other in the hall and lob F-bombs.
Some behavior modification, skill-set assessment, and personality disorder correction is in order.
This will prove difficult. Your breadwinner still must rise, shower, shave (something), style, mask, and dress for the day. For the first time you notice that this all takes over an hour, bordering on two when it's a hair-wash day. That door-you-intended-to-install-between-the-bed-and-bathroom project stalled. Showers, shavers, hair dryers, and the Today program are not sleep aids. Previously, you were in and out of the shower, shaved, dressed, and downstairs sipping the brewed coffee and surfing the sports page while she sculpted.
You no longer have to shower first thing in the morning. But don't push that "manly smell" she loves about you too far. When your dog won't go near you (even if you haven't kicked him), you're snacking on the crumbs stuck to your weeklong stubble, you lean your clothes against the nightstand, and your wife will not sleep with you, it is time to shower.
Dressing-Whether and When
The "whether" becomes a question of the weather, and whether you own a bathrobe. Even though you are feeling rebellious, walking around in the nude assumes no neighbor can see into any part of your house, and your front door is windowless. If not au naturel inclined, now, even on weekdays, you can don your favorite Hussongs' Cantina T-shirt acquired during a late '70s Ensenada, Mexico, bachelor party weekend. You have no memory of the weekend, but somehow that shirt showed up in your closet, along with a dozen Hussongs' shot glasses in your liquor cabinet.
Grooming (See showering and dressing)
After a fashion, being a crumb-encrusted hair-face with dirty fingernails and toe-jam really squelches the sex life. The flip side is the money you will save on deodorant and water.
When it comes to scratching, guys excel, majoring in it in high school and college. Even if a guy tiptoed his way through the minefield of college dating and led the conference in rejections, he surely aced Scratcholoy 101. Scratching is a gender gene at the core of the Y chromosome. Still, you've been envious of your dog for years, forgetting that thing you did to his balls (and, fortunately for you, he forgot as well). Now you can lead a dog's life and scratch when you want and where you want. Every day is a scratch day, even if you've never played scratch golf.
This even has health benefits. For at least eight hours a day you can let it rip when you want and where you want. No more pent-up gases. No more sitting in endless meetings without any chance to let the air out. This circumstance alone is responsible for most of the health-related stress in corporate America. A person produces half a liter a day. (A liter is slightly more than one quart, except in Great Britain, where it is less than a quart. Those Brits.) Obviously, guys were not measured in this survey, Brits or otherwise.
Since you only have one life to live, I suggest you not watch One Life to Live. You're still living in a fog, but have some standards. If you need some daytime combat to remind you of your recent job, watch The View. Otherwise be content with The People's Court or the really, really bad acting on Jerry Springer. Doing too much daytime TV will not help you birth the brain cells to replenish those you killed during the moping, fuming, and anger transitions from your job loss.
Remember how you hated meetings after lunch? Concentration was nearly impossible. Your body needed a nap. Long lunch breaks and siestas are not about slackers and laziness. Your day is yours. Take a nap. Just remember to take the phone off the hook, since it will always ring when you are on the throne, in the shower, or napping.
You will need a place to go when you're in the doghouse, since the actual one is being occupied by the family dog. That guest bedroom beckons-you know, the one that visitors rarely guest in. Think cocooning. You can have your own space to stare into space and contemplate your navel, or future. But first you need a few essentials besides a cable modem-driven PC or Mac. Office essentials include a framed Harley poster, Bonnie Raitt poster, blow-up photo of a Canadian fly-in fishing trip, high school varsity sports memorabilia like your football helmet or varsity sweater, and a really big wastebasket for paper-wad shooting. Your ego is still too fragile to be missing paper-wad shots. Keep the bed. You need that for naps and for temporary filings. When it is naptime, just refile on the floor.
Time for Home Schooling
After several foggy months of attitude adjustment, it will be time to take stock, or sell stock (if your attitude is still not adjusted). You could pawn this off as another midlife crisis, but you've already been through three. After three, even the psychiatrist won't see you, though Dr. Phil will. But you don't need his verbal abuse. Your wife will soon be heaping plenty on you. And let's face it-after several months you will have earned it. You may have to pawn something else.
You learn after a quick review of second-career options:
-You're too old for the police or fire department.
-You could apply to Blackwater (or the company formerly known as Blackwater), but you are pain averse and have Iraqnaphobia.
-You could teach; but are you ready to go back to school for a credential and several semesters of undergrad classes to fulfill the credits you need for your preferred discipline? Think at least two years.
-You hate rejection, so telemarketing is out of the question.
-You're too young to become a greeter at Wal-Mart and too proud to proffer, "You want fries with that?"
-Aromatherapy consulting is too metrosexual and feng shui for your wiring.
-A life of crime (white-collar or something felonious) and risking being run up and down the penal code isn't worth it, unless the thought of joining the prison "culture" appeals.
And drat-you never had your fifteen minutes of fame. You still have YouTube's fifteen megabytes of fame at your disposal. You can take up space on My Space, where someone will hit on you. Or join that new hybrid social network promoted by Conan O'Brian: TwitFace.
Previously you were the man of the house by process of elimination-you were the only man in the house. Now you are literally the Man of the House-the Man of La Mansion-the Don of the Domicile-the Dean of Domesticity-the Master of the House (during the times your bride isn't home). More germane to household harmony, you can become a trophy husband, blazing new territory and redefining its meaning. Your wife might soon be touting your talents to friends and co-workers. Better yet, you can become a kept man. Great gig if you can keep it.
Master of the House Benefits:
-Time for computer solitaire
-Time to calculate your carbon footprint
-Time to watch the World Darts and Miniature Golf Championships on ESPN
-Time to catch up on the latest celebrity news-Tom cruises in Timbuktu, Brad pits in Patagonia, Britney spears brats in Bavaria, and Paris does the Hilton
-Time to balance your home's yin and yang and infuse it with "cosmic dragon's breath"
-Time to prattle and pontificate on that blog you've fancied yourself launching
-Time to memorize the actual lyrics to "Louie, Louie"
-Time to perfect your air guitar skills
-When assembling products made in China, you will have the house to yourself and can expand on your colorful vocabulary. Just make sure you close the windows. Like former President Bush, you have now become "The Decider," if only domestically. As the dean of domesticity, major decisions fall to you:
-How to stack the dishwasher-your way (singing "My Way," made famous by Frank Sinatra, is probably over-the-top. But if you're having a tough week-go for it)
-Which way the paper towels and toilet paper unroll
-How many clothes to cram into the washer
-Whether to iron from the tapered end or the squared end of the ironing board
-Bartlett or Bosc pears
-Paper, plastic, or BYOB (bring your own bag)
-When the bananas have turned and need to be tossed
-When something needs repaired or serviced, and offered a service call time, you decide, morning or afternoon
-During the day, the toilet seat stays up (you might want to set a timer)
Maybe in a moment of lucidity, or daydreaming during your previous tedious commute, you've fantasized morphing into Renaissance Man. Or, maybe you're a never-married or yet-to-be-married guy who in moments of candor wanted to expand your cultural IQ beyond golf, football, ESPN poker, cockfights or cow tipping. You don't meet many women at poker nights, cockfights or cow tipping. You have secretly envisioned yoga classes, cooking classes, and, yes, maybe even a book club. I do all three. Here's a headline for single guys-I can count on one hand the number of men in my yoga class, cooking class, and book club. Well, what are you waiting for? Yoga may not help your cooking skills, but it will aid your toilet tank replacing. Only guys who have done that will understand-flat on your back staring up at the backside of the porcelain goddess. Can you spell contortionist? Can you at least pronounce it?
So let's have at it. There are provisions to be purchased, meals to be provided, laundry to be laundered, shirts to be ironed, budgets to be balanced, and a household physique to be maintained in handy-manly fashion. You're just the guy to do it. You will soon hold a BS in domestic engineering.
Here's a manly suggestion-learn to cook. What's manly about learning to cook, you ask? Glad you asked. I'll answer with another question. What sort of wimpy, whining wiener would sulk and vegetate all day while his wife is working, infusing the family cash flow and paying for his medical insurance, greens fees, beer, and video games? Any more questions?
Unless you were bamboozled when you bought your house, you have a kitchen. I know you have a refrigerator, because that's where you keep the beer. You have a microwave because that's what you use to heat or thaw what you've been calling food for years. Let's take inventory-stove, yup-oven, yup-sink, yup-dishwasher, yup-kitchen cabinets, yup. Okay, you're good to go.
Think of it as Macho Cooking, or better yet, Gonzo Cooking. Wordsmith.org defines gonzo as "having a bizarre, subjective, idiosyncratic style." Sounds like guy descriptors to me.
Soon you will have made the transition from breadwinning to bread-baking, from bringing home the bacon to cooking it, and from feeling smaller than a hill of beans to soaking and slow-cooking them.
You will learn that the way to a woman's heart is not through the bedroom or Nordstrom but through the kitchen (even if you still end up in the bedroom). According to an April, 2007, Men's Health Magazine survey, 66 percent of women respondents said they'd be more likely to have sex after a home-cooked meal. Ninety-five percent said yes to sex if the man cooked the meal. (Okay, I made that last part up. But it does stand to reason.) Hello, guys-what more do you need? Oh yes, now I remember-to paraphrase Billy Crystal-women have sex for lots of reasons-men just need a place.
Excerpted from Guy's Guide to Domestic Engineering by Keith Frohleich Copyright © 2009 by Keith Frohleich. Excerpted by permission.
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