The snow of January and February blows into town with a vengeance, and with it comes many unwelcome three-word combinations, like “shovel the walk,” and “scrape the windows,” and “major traffic delays.” But perhaps the dirtiest, filthiest, most dreaded of three-word phrases that can be uttered from male to female during the long, cold days of winter is …
Working from home.
The specter of working from home presents conflicts for the dual-working couples with stand-offs over shared internet lines and whose conference call earns the louder voice. The true pain and suffering, however, is felt uniquely by the stay-at-home mom. Normally the queen of her castle, the master of her domain, she is suddenly and unapologetically dethroned from her post and stripped of her royal garb. On occasion she is even made to pack up her earthly possessions and small loyal servants into a Jeep and travel to a far away kingdom, crown clattering on the street like a discarded tuna can.
The weather-induced coup can bring the castle walls in. The royal court is used to seeing the king in his bedclothes at night, but there’s something unsavory about it on a Thursday at 2 p.m. We’re accustomed to being asked, “What’s for lunch?” on a weekend, but to hear those words on Tuesday, by 10 a.m. no less, is something different altogether, particularly when followed by “What’s for dinner?” 15 minutes after lunch is finished.
The near-constant and far too casual presence of the king confuses the subjects, as well. Inquiries to play and to frolic are met with rejection for he’s too busy working. And when the queen asks for a few moments reprieve so that she might do something exotic and liberating, like laundry in the basement, she, too, is rejected. See, while working from home may seem like a lot of sofa-sitting and genital-scratching to an outsider, it is a dire and mandatory duty when confronted with a request to change a diaper, scrape a windshield, or permit the wife a private toilet experience.
One might think this rare peephole into the daily rigors the queen experiences might give the king some added respect for her role within the royal hierarchy. It doesn’t. Instead she’s met with questions about the way she manages the prince and princess. “Do you let them play with markers on the counter everyday?” “Are you allowing them to touch my guitar when I’m not here?” “Do you think they need to pour applesauce all over the floor?” Before the queen can defend her position he interjects, “Hold that thought, conference call. Can you take the kids upstairs?”
The exile to a bedroom is the gravest affront of the spousal work-at-home scenario. With inclement weather, the upstairs bedrooms become like the holding pen of a castle tower. Inevitably the 15-minute conference call becomes a two-hour one. The royal family begins jaundicing and withering like the family from “Flowers in the Attic.” By the time the tower door is unlocked, the kids have the same disposition of the cooped up and jittery dog from “There’s Something About Mary,” ready to pounce at the crotch of their captor.
I close this entry plotting ways to get the king to take his horse-drawn carriage to a coffee shop for awhile, and my heart goes out to the ultimate king and queen of the work-at-home couples: The Obamas. At the end of a grueling week in the White House, I wonder if Michelle sneaks a call to the Queen of the United Arab Emirates, pleading for an urgent summit in Abu Dhabi: “Please, I just need him out of the house for a couple of days. I’ll take the Sheikh next month for you.”
Erin Donovan moved with her family to the Midcoast where she constantly is told she says the word “scallops” incorrectly. She performs live and produces Web sketches derived from her popular humor blog “I’m Gonna Kill Him.” Follow her misadventures at imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.