Round about 1972 Judy Brady wrote an essay “I Want A Wife.” At that time I was graduated from OSU and working in kitchens which was not my first choice. In fact, that kind of work was not on my list of choices for work at all and hadn’t even been in my mind as what I would want to be doing or end up doing or do for awhile. Please, don’t take offense at the use of “that kind of work.” It is simply an accurate depiction of my mind set at the time and not a reference to anything about the type of work it is. I had thought maybe a teacher or social worker, something to enhance my career as a writer. All together it’s a long story and one I’ve told in some of the Kitchen Stories, so I’m not going to retell it here, but I will say that I was down and out and borrowing rent money from my brother every month, so when I got the job (as a busboy) I was happy for it just to start making money. I didn’t last long as a busboy because on the second night I spilled some soup on a customer who then refused to accept my apology. After hurling a few expletives–after all I was young and prideful and didn’t think through the consequences–I was whisked away into the kitchen and put to work as a pot washer. Admittedly and honestly, I thought it was humorous at the time. Nevertheless, it was wholly accidental and I did sincerely apologize. It wasn’t humorous anymore when I was up to my elbows inside a cooking pot, scrubbing it with a brush bigger than my hand, and sometimes a brush made of wires and sometimes just industrial sized steel pads. I was happy when a couple of days later I was promoted to working on the dishwasher. That only resulted in burnt hands since the water temperature was near scalding.
I’m not the type of person cut out to be a server in a restaurant. It isn’t about anything other than eye-hand coordination and overall agility and adeptness. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I only get good at these types of activities by continued repetitions, and if you see the post “A Long Time Ago,” that recording engineer friend and I used play Foosball when we were kids and he always beat me 11-0 or 21-0 until I got frustrated enough to not play anymore. That friend picked up drum sticks and a drum pad and automatically played the drums, no one teaching him. I picked up a pen and paper.
I should also mention that for awhile in kitchens was twenty years for me although for the last years I was working only three or four nights in Manhattan bistros while teaching college during the day and at the very end I was teaching high school full time during the day. I might also say that in three nights in the kitchen I made more money than I made full time teaching for NYCDOE.
Teaching college was when I first became familiar with Judy Brady’s essay and I taught it for many reasons from a literary standpoint, but not, incidentally, as a feminist issue. It was of course hailed as a feminist piece, and just as an aside, about the time I was laid off from a ten-year stint at Queens College, feminists had pretty much come to power in the English Department and they got rid of anyone they could who did not fit in with their agenda.
She wants a wife , today’s musing, centers around a thought about a firstborn child who was a girl whose father wanted a boy and raised her kind of like a boy. She grew up kind of confused. Her values (old school) stated that the man provided for the woman and the family and the woman took care of the home and the kids and the man, but she was like her father and liked to control things and make the decisions. More to the point, she liked being a woman when it was convenient, and wanted all the things men used to provide in a traditional sense for traditional women, but she liked being in a man’s role when it was convenient too.
Like so many thoughts, this one crossed my mind as something to write about and I thought maybe make a story about. But I don’t think I will ever make a story about it and I would say I surely wouldn’t but nothing much is sure.