Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hey, Somebody Has to Do It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hey, Somebody Has to Do It

Article excerpt

My father and I got into a boasting contest last week. The source of our pride? Who had performed the most undesirable (i.e. gross) task during their lives. You might think that my father had the advantage. After all, at age 65, he had experienced life without many of the modern conveniences I enjoyed growing up. I had one distinct advantage, however. I'm a woman.

My father started the bragging with this gem: Have you ever cleaned a grease trap?

Dear Father, I responded. How do you think I earned the money for college?

He humphed and stared thoughtfully across the room, smoothing his whiskers while he contemplated his next move.

Finally he described in detail the worst job he ever had in the Navy: cleaning a public ladies restroom. You women complain about men's bathroom habits, he whined. That was disgusting!

Yes, I agreed. Women's restrooms can get pretty nasty. Once a month I cleaned the restrooms on the third floor of Eagle Hall, my college dormitory, I reminded him. Toilets, sinks and shower. He humphed again. Then after a minute of intense concentration, his face lit up. He pointed his finger in the air and exclaimed, "I've got it! When you kids were babies, we had to wash out your cloth diapers in the toilet!"

I shuddered. That was a good one. Being from the disposable diaper generation, that was one chore I had never done, and the thought of it made me grimace. My father beamed in his momentary triumph.

You mothers know, however, that I held the trump card. For you have not truly tested your stomach's mettle until you are awoken in the middle of the night by the crying of a child who had just gotten sick.

I pride myself on keeping gender bias out of my chore-assigning duties. My sons do dishes and laundry and my daughter takes out the trash. My sons, however, absolutely refuse to clean the cat's litter box. …

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