Chore Whore

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Researchers from the University of California say that if men share household chores…their wives will find them more attractive.

— Yahoo! News release

Sure I sold myself. Who in our society doesn’t? Just like anyone else, I provided a valuable service. I made a lot of women very happy, if only for a couple of hours. I gave them a kind of satisfaction that their husbands and boyfriends just couldn’t provide. Trust me: if they were getting it at home, they wouldn’t be coming to me.

I started young. I was barely nineteen, halfway through a Comp Lit degree at Swarthmore and two semesters behind on my bookstore bill. I had lost my job at the 7-11; they had finally installed an automatic hot dog rotisserie, so they didn’t need anyone to turn the crank. Times were hard. Lucky for me, when your bedroom is more or less on public display and you share a co-ed bathroom, word about your potential eventually gets around. I was typing up a letter to Student Accounts about my ongoing and expensive struggle with dengue fever when my hall advisor, Reynaldo, dropped in. He told me there were some ladies out on the Main Line who would pay serious money for a little time with me — no questions asked. I was nervous, but I needed the dough, so how could I refuse?

I remember my first trick like it was yesterday. Mrs. Helene Goldman, forty-three years old, with a body that could easily pass for forty. Her husband was a thoracic surgeon, and they had a five-bedroom house in Bryn Mawr that was full of everything except the attention she desperately craved. I showed up on a Wednesday morning around ten, after the kids were in school. She led me into the kitchen and my heart started racing. She must have known I was green, but she played it cool. She laid a C-spot down on the table, stretched out across two chairs, kicked off her slippers and told me exactly what she wanted.

“Take out the garbage,” she said.

She spoke in a hungry, husky growl — kind of a cross between Marlene Dietrich and a broken air conditioner — and I knew right then that she would not be denied. Whether I could live up to her expectations was another question. Sure, I had taken out my share of trash, but usually just the little wastebasket from my dorm room. This was the real thing: a Hefty tall kitchen bag filled with coffee grounds and carrot peels and two empty Eggo boxes that had definitely not been pre-crushed. Remember, this was before the heyday of the Cinch-sack or any of your other modern conveniences. I had nothing but a flimsy twist-tie and a ten-year old memory of Boy Scout knots to help me bring this woman to the peak of satisfaction.

I tried to look professional, but I was sweating bullets. I had never done anything like that with somebody watching, let alone paying for the privilege. Let me tell you, it isn’t easy to perform under that kind of pressure. The bag was pretty full, so I used my foot to squash the trash down, and for a second I caught her wincing. Not a good start. But then something — inspiration? Desperation? The hand of God? — made me slip the dirty shoe off my foot, and set it upside-down on the linoleum, so I wouldn’t mess up her fresh mop job.

“Ooh, you’re good,” Mrs. Goldman moaned, squirming with pleasure. That kicked me into high gear. I yanked up the sides of the bag and started fumbling with the knot like I was defusing a bomb. Helene put her hand on mine. “Slower,” she said. She guided me along at her pace until I got the hang of it. From that point instinct pretty much took over. After I finished, I carried the bag out the back door with one hand cupped gently underneath it, and not only locked down the outdoor bin but took it out to the curb to boot. When I returned, I wiped off the sole of my dirty shoe with a paper towel and Fantastick before I put it back on. Unsophisticated, sure, but it sent the right message.

“Marv almost never takes out the trash, and when he does, there’s always a trail of bread crumbs or dental floss or some kind of liquefied vegetable slime all the way out to the door,” Helene said breathlessly, handing me a fresh bag and checking the windows for peeping Toms. She was avoiding eye contact now, and I think she was crying. “I just need someone to think about what I need every once in a while.”

I rolled the new liner gently over the lip of the can and said, “Of course, Mrs. Goldman. It’s the least you deserve.” She looked me straight in the eye with a white-hot desire, and for a second I thought she was going to ask me to scour her broiler pan, but then the postman rang and she shoved the Franklin in my hand and my butt out the back door.

Within six months I had more janes than I could handle. I cruised grocery stores, strip malls, Lord and Taylor’s. I could spot a potential client on sight. Mid-thirties to early forties, married five, ten, maybe twelve years, a couple of fidgety kids in tow, not quite enough makeup to hide the wear and tear of a thousand thankless little chores. If the husband was around, he was usually waylaid in the Electronics section, comparing the pictures of six identical TV sets. Poor schmucks. They didn’t know what they had — or what they had already lost.

I was always a pretty fastidious guy, but I never imagined that all my anal-retentive habits would pay off like this. A lot of the girls wanted me to clean the bathroom, and when I actually scrubbed the tile cracks with a toothbrush and soap scum remover, they went straight to heaven. I’ve made more than one grown woman squeal with joy just by dusting underneath her desk lamps. And if there are any men reading this, here’s some free advice: Learn your way around a few choice vacuum attachments, and you’ll never need marital counseling.

You might think someone like me would wind up in a lot of nasty scrapes with jealous meatheads, but it’s actually pretty easy to stay below the radar. The husbands see what they want to see. They’ll come home at the end of the day, and the entire dining room will be cleaned top to bottom — including the blades of the ceiling fan — and there’s a brand new tablecloth and it’s been pre-washed and ironed, and if they notice at all they think this is the sort of the thing their wives do in their leisure time, like pottery or canasta. I remember one time I actually left an old pair of my boxers in Phyllis Whistler’s silver chest — I was using them to polish up her sugar bowls — and apparently when her husband found them, he said “Why did you have to go and ruin these shorts, Phyllis? They’ve only got three holes!”

Of course sometimes you just get caught. Once I was elbow-deep in Kate Berman’s utility drawer, lubricating her rollers to massage away a stubborn squeak, when her fiancé walked in. There was no covering it up; the entire kitchen was littered with spatulas, wooden spoons, and potato mashers that she had tossed aside in a fit of reckless passion. I stood there, slackjawed, while he stared at us with a mixture of shock and betrayal. Finally, he just blurts out: “I was going to do that on Saturday!” Next thing you know they were throwing plates, and I was already halfway over the backyard fence, with a spooked-out Rottweiler chomping at my heels.

Would I ever go back? I don’t think so. It’s a young man’s game; I just don’t have the stamina for it anymore. Besides, after a while the girls start taking you for granted. I’ll never forget the day I scrubbed down every last window in Ginny Chamberlain’s house. Those windows were filthy. For all Ginny knew, Mount Pinatubo could have erupted right on her front lawn, and it wouldn’t look any different. I shined and polished that glass until I had a tennis elbow like Andre Agassi’s, and when Ginny came home all she said was “Who the hell left all the blinds open?”

It’s a good thing I got paid to put up with that crap. Otherwise I’d really have gone crazy.

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