I was standing in line at the store the other day and happened to overhear a couple of women in front of me who were having one of those typical “housewife” chit-chat. Which, as my Uncle Bean once pointed out, is a more polite way of saying that they were standing around bellyaching about utter louses their husbands happened to be.

One of the women, the older of the two, seemed particularly miffed as she waxed angrily about the fact that her husband apparently never wanted to cook dinner for the family once in a while. “Would it kill him just once to open a can of soup and heat it up for the kids?” she asked.

“That’s just awful,” her younger companion commiserated. “At least my husband will go outside and grill a steak every now and then. I suppose barbecuing is the only type of cooking a real man will do.”

The first woman just sort of snorted contemptuously. “Ha!” she exclaimed. “Listen, sweetie, you just watch and see who’s really doing all the work the next time your husband decides to barbecue.”

“Why? What do you mean?”

The older woman shot her a look as if to ask, “Just how long have you been married?” And then she proceeded to impart upon her young charge the full weight of her many years of experience.

“Any time a man decides he’s going to give his wife the night off and cook outside on the grill,“ she announced, ”this is pretty much what you can expect to happen.

“First, the wife goes to the store and buys everything. She comes home and makes the salad, vegetables, and dessert. Then she prepares the meat for cooking; places it on a tray, along with all the necessary cooking utensils, sauces and the like; and carries this heavy tray laden with meat, utensils and sauces outside to the husband, who is lounging around beside the grill with a beer in his hand.

“The husband gets up, sets down the beer and throws the meat on the grill while the wife goes back inside the house to organize all the plates and cutlery. Then she comes back outside to tell her husband – who is back in his lawn chair drinking his beer – that the meat is burning. He says ‘thank you,’ and then asks if she wouldn’t mind going back in and fetching him another beer while he attends to the situation.

“When she comes back with his beer, the husband takes the meat off the grill and gives it to the wife, who then prepares the plates and brings them to the table. Then, after everyone’s finished eating, the wife clears the table and does the dishes while the kids lavish praise and carry on about what a great cook their father is.

“ And THEN, while the wife is standing there in dishwater up to her elbows, the husband has the nerve to come up acting like the hero and asking how she enjoyed her night off! And if the wife actually DARES to answer honestly – if she so much as LOOKS at him with the slightest trace of annoyment – he walks off muttering under his breath about how there's just no pleasing a woman!”

With that she slammed her Cheetos and her four-pack of bathroom tissue on the counter in front of the cashier, and ther younger woman stomped her foot on the tiled floor in sympathetic rage. She turned to start pulling her own groceries out of the cart and, noticing me standing there behind her trying to mind my own business, shot me an evil look as if I had been the thoughtless husband in question.

“You men are all alike!” she sneered at me.

“Oh no, we’re not,” I responded innocently. “I don’t drink beer.”

Then I ducked as a can of Spaghettios sailed past my ear...

(Copyright 2014 by John Allen Small)