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Dear Heather, (The Haven, September 2020)

Dear Heather,


I desperately need your professional/unprofessional assistance in overcoming an issue that is currently plaguing women across the nation. No, it’s not COVID-19, but a serious byproduct of that terrible disease. I need your advice as I know you have dealt with this long before the virus and seem to have always handled it with great ease.


I’ll just say it: MYHUSBANDWORKSFROMHOMENOW. He used to go into the office despite corona, and that was cool. Then, one day, his boss decided that everyone will now work from home — forever. OK, so no biggie. He has a home office. First day home: “What’s for lunch?” You mean I have to make YOU lunch now, too? So I walk into his office with his made-to-order tuna on a roll with a “thicker than normal” slice of tomato hold the lettuce sandwich and I’m met with, “SHHHHHHHHHH, I’m working!!” Is he kidding? I’m not three. Every. Single. Time he does this to me. Also, back in the good ole’ days, I used to just come and go as I pleased. Now every time I turn the key in the ignition my phone lights up, “Hey, where are you going?” or “Hey, what did you buy?” I’m losing it. How do you deal with HUSBANDWORKSFROMHOMENOW syndrome?


Signed,


Smiling Through My Teeth



Dear Smiling,


I would be delighted to offer you my unprofessional assistance in tackling this pandemic side effect which, agreed, is right this very minute causing many a spouse and domestic partner to lock themselves in closets and pretend to be one of the hangers.


Hang on, let me pull this sneaker out of my derriere. There, much cozier. Now, where were we? Ah, yes, the tuna sandwich.


May I suggest making the slices thinner than he’d like?


I don’t offer this advice facetiously, or even spitefully. Rather, I suggest this passive-aggressive non-compliance as a way to conserve energy during this difficult time while constructively instructing.

If that doesn’t do the trick, try not making a sandwich at all, and displaying on your countertop the tomato, tuna, mayo, and roll. Then send the text: “Lunch is ready!”


I myself handled a similar situation recently when my spouse decided to cap our umpteenth pandemic dinner with a tutorial on Loading The Dishwasher.


“See,” he demonstrated, re-stacking the plates so tightly, it was difficult to imagine water ever finding a way between them. I walked out, leaving him to finish, aka instruct himself, and haven’t heard a peep since about glasses or spoons.


“Shhh” is admittedly tougher to combat — as is the synonymous finger-snapping I receive. Miming an interpretive dance of a woman raised by wolves who has never seen this new world device through which people communicate to each other works well. But if you’re not feeling theatrical, you could try the advice of my therapist, and express yourself during a calm period. Something akin to: “It upsets me when you say ‘shhh.’”


Quick disclaimer that I no longer see this therapist, which is why I would alternatively suggest clanging together a set of child cymbals when he walks into YOUR space. While this may initially escalate tensions, behaviorists have proved that caged rats eventually learn to avoid pressing pedals that elicit electric shocks.


I would also advise investing in zoom Yoga, reading up on Buddhist enlightenment, and strategically placing around the house tantalizing articles like 8 Benefits to Working in a Backyard Shed, or Earthing: A Grounded Case For Taking Calls Outside When You Don’t Own a Shed. (free downloads available on (www.getoutnow//thecalliscomingfrominsidetheouse.com)


If all else fails, my dear Smiling, here is a coupon code for BOGO picnic baskets. One for you and the kids to take to the park.

The other for rainy days in the closet.


Warmly,


Heather


(author's note: this may or may not be a text exchange between friends)


#covid #workingfromhome #marriage #selfpreservation #humor


Published in The Haven (Sept. 2020)