Professor Joe Goldblatt
In the seventeenth century the french playwright Moliere wrote a controversial play entitled The School for Wives. The play was quite controversial because the plot involved an older man who was so intimidated by femininity that he took into his home a young female ward whom he would later scheme to try and marry. In the final act, his plans are overturned when his young ward marries a younger suitor.
During the last five months my partner of 43 years and I have, like many other couples, experienced a new kind of intimacy that is often riddled with conflict, kindness and new discoveries.
One of my greatest discoveries has been how much I still have to learn as a husband. In our home, my partner is the chef and, since my retiral, I have become the dishwasher. However, during this challenging time, I have taken on many new duties and at the same time learned to improve some of my old skills. At the ripe young age of 68, I have succeeded in being admitted to A School for Husbands.
I had no idea that before the intensity of the pandemic there were many more specific techniques for effective washing up after our meals together. For example, all of our glasses tell me they are much happier if they are placed upon a cloth towel upside down on the counter. Also, all pans have privately shared with me that they are more satisfied being wiped clean with a paper towel rather than a cloth one. This is because the cloth towel may be dirtied and therefore injured from some of the residue from the pan and this makes the pan very sad.
I had no idea that glasses could be wiped so carefully that they could actually gleam until it was pointed out to me that there were numerous spots (sometimes, alas alack, greasy ones) upon them. Therefore, I moved the torch (flash light for the Americans) into the kitchen and learned to carefully inspect each and every glass until they twinkled and actually winked back at me with their new found spotlessness.
I have also been made aware that all the “bits” that should not be allowed in the fussy drain where they may cause confusion and God forbid, constipation!
When it comes to higher level tasks, I was relieved when I was finally starting to improve my ability to independently store our food and drink items that previously were deemed too complex for me to understand. I now have slightly progressed in the art and science of matching the right size and type of container with the items that need to be stored and I am so pleased with my slight progress in only five months time.
Perhaps my greatest achievement is my significant growth in the area of toilet cleaning. I had no idea how many liquids were needed to tidy the toilet and I have learned in a very short time how to blend them into an effective antiseptic cleaning agent that has won the approval of my supervisor. I have become so good at cleaning the toilets that I am somewhat obsessed and I now keep my brushes and liquids nearby at all times lest I notice a renegade
germ that must be eliminated before reproducing.
Whilst Moliere’s older gentleman may have failed in the pursuit of love, I believe I am starting to succeed. From time to time, I must admit, I have suffered minor depression as I realised how much after 43 years I still had to learn about being a proper husband. However, now that I have begun attending A School for Husbands and earned a few modest badges, I believe I may even wish to progress to further studies.
The old adage that “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks” is just that, an old adage. In my case, this old dog has through his excellent teacher and many hours of diligent practice learned a lot of new tricks that hopefully will keep me in good form for the next chapter in my life and marriage.
Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor of Planed Events at Queen Margaret University and is currently enrolled in A School of Husbands where he aspires to become Head Boy.