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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 1 (April 1, 1938.)

The Man About the House

page 38

The Man About the House.

The Homing Homo

What is home without a homo?

Even if you don't like dogs it's nice to have a man about the house. The difference between keeping a man and keeping a dog is trifling, except that you can turn a dog out at night. You turn a man out in the morning and he comes home at night—eventually. There are few men who will sleep on the doorstep, unless they're too far gone to step over it. That's practically the only difference between keeping a dog and a man. Otherwise a man about the house is as jolly and carefree as a St. Bernard with a leaning to leaning and a careless abandon with the domestic doo-dahs.

Both men and dogs are homers. Any evening you may see them, after they have had all the gaiety they can get elsewhere, making for the old mortgage-security with a steak-and-onions gleam in their eye and a lilt in their lope.

With ears flapping like lug-sails on Dogger Bank the ancestral tyke accelerates his scrapers towards home and bone as the sun sinks and the scent of stew steals over the suburbs.

Likewise the homing husband flaps his flippers towards his box of tricks and sticks with the look in his eye of Stout Cortez or Bony Mary at Haggistide. Deprive him of his perching privileges and coop-consciousness and he is as a rooster without a roost—a bird with “the bird.”

Per-adventure he may dally a while where the plump arm of Phoebe pulls the pump, but nothing but a decree absolute will keep him out of the domestic parking area when the shades of evening fall and the fumes of cooking rise.

Sins and Signs.

It's nice to have a man about the house but, like earache and plumbers, he is never fully appreciated until he goes. His absence is more expressive than his presence and his going leaves a gap in the domestic ensemble bigger than the hole Willie digs in the bread.

Like the brave knights of the shivery Age of Chivalry he leaves tokens of his departure an over his wake when duty calls and he puts out to see—the wet sock he dropped in the bath limply languishing on the hallstand, the mat, on which he skidded up the hall, nestling against the umbrella stand with the remains of “Stags at Bay” and the broken bust of Byron. Take an eyeful of the things he forgot to remember—his spectacles, his lunch, the letters he swore to post and the umbrella he borrowed in nineteen-sixteen; small in themselves, you may say, but endearing signs and symbols that, once again, father has slid off the skids.

Launching the Queen Mary, catapulting Professor Pickard at the moon, jacking a cow off the front garden, or carrying a piano up a spiral staircase are routine jobs compared with getting father off o’ mornings.

“Getting father off o’ mornings.”

“Getting father off o’ mornings.”

But, in the house or out of the house, it is nice to have a man about the house. It gives the place a hearty appearance page 39 as though the gas system had exploded under it. You fall into his boots wherever you walk, you find his bicycle in the bath and his golf clubs in the piano; his papers lie ankle deep like autumn leaves from the jumbo tree. He polishes his shoes with his wife's silk stockings and cleans his pipes with her curlers. He burns holes in the sofa and repairs the radio so that it goes dumber than a platinum blonde. He makes noises in the bath like eventide at the jungle water hole. He smokes until the place smells like the morning after the fireman's wedding and he puddles about until it looks as though plumbers have broken in.

At least, this is what his wife says.

Yet, let him fail to connect with the connubial perch before the potatoes are cold and she is ringing up the free ambulance and the lost-property depot for tiding of her tardy tarrier. In the words of the old song (specially rewritten):

O where is my wandering boy tonight,
He's twelve minutes late if the clock is right,
There's something missing about the dump
Without the stupid muddling chump.
He gives the house a homely air
When he's spread all over the best arm-chair,
And it's far too peaceful for any spouse
Without a man about the house.
As the war-horse pines for the cannon's roar,
And the pugilist sighs for a jolt on the jaw,
And silence the riveter's nerves destroy,
She longs for the noise of her wandering boy.
A pest and a blot and a rowdy “grouse,”
But it's home with a man about the house.

Which proves that, in spite of his errors and omissions, he's not the mug he looks.

“Where My Caravan is Resting”

Where My Caravan is Resting

“Dish-washing has no terrors for him”

“Dish-washing has no terrors for him”

Domestic Doings.

In fact it's a wise wife who knows her own husband. She's prone to give him minus marks for domestic doings; but she never knows what he can do about the house because he never has to do it until she goes away from the house and leaves him to it. That is when he calls up all his latent ingenuity and initiative in the interests of energy conservation and self preservation. He may not stalk the darkling dust to its lair; his methods may be high, wide and handsome. But he puts dull care on the spot and speeds the carking chore.

Why, he asks, become a slave to habit—a disciple of dish-water, a mopmoper, a vacuum votary, a carpet snake and a floor-flounderer?