Hubby offered to hang up the laundry a few days ago, since I’ve had a nasty virus. I don’t know how, but he turned all my Brazilian style knickers into thongs that would fit an elephant.
Did he secure them firmly to the washing line then bungy jump down to the car parked below? Use them like a slingshot to launch clothes pegs at the neighbours’ cat?
He modified my other clothes too. You’ve heard of A-line skirts, haven’t you? I now have A-line jumpers.
I saw how he did this. When I gathered them in they were flailing in a high wind, firmly pegged by each of the lower corners, pulled as far apart as they could possibly go. He had actually taken up the slack in the washing line between the two pegs holding my jumpers in place.
He hung up our son’s jumpers laterally. The clothes pegs have left deep ridge marks all down the central fold – they’re almost ribbed jumpers in fact – and the little lad is now sporting the bare midriff look. His sleeves are long enough to trail on the floor, like the arms of the evil purple minions in “Despicable Me 2.”
Hubby has been so helpful this week that he did the shopping too.
A strange thing happened while I was cleaning my teeth with the new toothpaste he bought. It said Sensodyne on the label, but I’m not convinced.
We do regularly get fake branded toiletries and other items here in Sicily, which is why I always examine packaging most obsessively before putting it in my trolley. I grope the cardboard, I flick the can, and I know every word and detail on the packet of just about anything. If you give me some good felt pens, I can recreate the tooth X-ray on a tube of Sensodyne from memory.
This toothpaste frothed up so alarmingly I looked as if I had rabies. I wanted to take a “selfie” whilst my mouth spewed forth several gallons of bubbling white foam, but I’m afraid I’m just not teenage enough to be capable of such a challenging feat.
I gurgled it all down the drain and went to make a restorative cup of tea.
How lucky I am that Hubby decided to take care of the dishes as well! He’s so thorough. He never leaves anything out. The cutlery basket even had the washing up brush in it. Does he think the dishwasher needs that to clean the plates and cups once you close the door?
My tea tasted dreadfully soapy. It looked a bit….. bubbly. A bit, well, frothy. OK, let’s be honest, it had a head on it that would put a pint of Guiness to shame. It was a tea-uccino.
Wondering what other kind and helpful things Hubby might have done, I ambled into the utility room and found the barbecue in there.
Hubby is 100% responsible for the barbecue. I refuse to touch it. You only have to walk within one yard of it and your clothes can all go in the bin, for a start. It is black and sooty and greasy, and anyway I respect his need to indulge in his atavistic Macho Fantastico activities from time to time, so I would not dream of spending two hours ruining my fingernails trying to clean it.
If I’m honest, I actually encourage Hubby in Macho Fantastico type activities, albeit on a controlled scale (when I say “controlled,” I mean 100% controlled by me.)
You see, “macho” is a Spanish word, and Spanish men do MACHO instinctively. They are proud, haughty and never miss an opportunity to prove they have a buoyant testosterone level. Italian men, on the other hand, just don’t care.
Back in the days of ancient Rome, the Italians were the most macho nation in the world. According to Roman historian Livy, Roman boys were trained to display dignitas and severitas, two of the “Roman virtues” which the Romans considered to be the cause of their success.
Dignitas means dignity. The first summer I lived in Sicily, I remember watching Hubby stop outside the baker’s, and toddle in for a loaf of bread wearing a Bugs Bunny beach towel as a sarong. We didn’t even have a child back then. After this he joined a group of Sicilian men walking along licking ice cream from cones with chocolate fingers and cocktail umbrellas in the top.
I see Sicilian men carrying handbags all over the place. Their wife will be trying on clothes, blowing a kid’s nose, or jacking up the car to change a tyre, and there’s her husband, chatting to some other blokes, who are all holding their wives’ handbags too. Sicilian women don’t choose discreet black leather handbags, by the way. A Sicilian handbag is a high-gloss mosaic of pink snakeskin embellished with about 200 glittering rhinestones and a tassel hanging off all seven of the zipper features.
Turn on Berlusconi’s Italian TV and tell me if you can find a trace of gravitas anywhere. Even the influential political show Stricia La Notizia on Mediaset, which exposes corruption throughout the country, has a journalist called Capitano Ventosa who wears a superhero costume and a sink plunger sticking off the top of his head like a Teletubby.
I am pretty sure the Italians are not bothered about dignitas any more.
Then there’s severitas. That means austerity and restraint. The Romans used to say you can kiss your children, but only while they are sleeping, otherwise you’ll make them too soft.
And let’s now turn to modern Italy, where men live with their Mamma till they’re 40, they sometimes still take their laundry home for her to clean it, and if they whine that they don’t like the food, as often as not Mamma will calmly start cooking them a completely new meal from scratch. Oh, and have you ever gone anywhere by car with an Italian and tried to park MORE than three metres from the doorway of where you’re going? Italians can’t walk. It might scuff their shoes.
Yeah, they don’t do gravitas any more either.
So if, 2,000 years on, you are still in your rebellious phase and refusing to do either dignitas or severitas, I think it is very hard indeed to be macho.
And this is why I let Hubby have his moments of severitas, sustaining flesh and blood by cooking simple rough-hewn lumps of meat over an open fire like his macho ancestors, relinquishing the comforts of an electric oven and the soft pampering of a shady roof.
Yet how dare his macho accoutrement sit there, squat and filthy and scratchy-looking among my perfumed white table cloths, delicate lacy undies and freshly laundered shirts waiting to be ironed?
I suddenly felt much, MUCH better. In fact the virus left my body instantly, and I evicted that barbecue by myself. In rather a frenzy.
It was miraculous the way Hubby’s kind help made me get better so fast, wasn’t it?