My Boy Person had to go out of town for five nights last week.  Since he moved in, he’s been job-hunting, so has taken on the vast majority of the housework during the day and, ’50s-style, has dinner on the table for me when I get home from the office.  Were he not bored senseless, and did we not need the money, I’d say it’s a pretty sweet set-up.  I’ve been doing some light cooking on the weekends (mostly egg-boiling) and some laundry here and there so as not to get totally spoiled, but he’s definitely taken over the day-to-day chores and I’ve been able to work later in the evenings (yay).

Before he left, he joked that he couldn’t imagine how I survived without him.  “Ha ha,” I said, and thwacked him, “I managed just fine living on my own for the last ten years, so I expect I’ll manage.”  What rubbish, right?  As though I am thoroughly undomesticated!

Except I forgot that I kind of am.  I had big plans for the week.  I was going to take a bubble bath, paint my nails, bleach and depilate my various ladyparts.  I was going to call my family at home to catch up since the holidays, hit two different exercise classes, and had grand notions of reorganizing the closet.  I even planned out my menu for the week (I did have vague recollections of how much I hate cooking when I get home from work), and bought stuffed pasta and pre-seasoned pork escalope and a head of broccoli I could steam in minutes.  It was going to be so productive and relaxing! 

Man, I was already proud of myself when he left last Monday morning.  After kissing him goodbye, I efficiently emptied all the trashcans for the garbage men and hustled our bulging bag of recycling down the stairs on my way out.  Finally, a little Me-Time!  This is not to say that the Boy somehow prevents me from doing all the things I listed above; just that it’s the kind of stuff I prefer to do on my own time, and he is, well, always in the flat when I am home, seeing as he has no other home to go to and no employment.

I should also mention that we quit smoking around the 1st of January and were chugging along quite nicely until we simultaneously relapsed on his birthday after two-and-a-half weeks.  Nevertheless, quitting is a process (a loooooooooooong and painful process, yes), and we had recovered ourselves a bit over the next week.  Not smoke-free, but easily making it two to three days between guilty fags.  I also have found that I have very little interest in drinking without a cigarette, and my wine-habit was surprisingly easy to give up, although I was instead snarfing jarfuls of olives every evening to appease my oral fixation.  But I bought nice olives, and my basic point is that it was all pretty civilized.

Pretty civilized until he left, and suddenly I was Single Tailfeather again.  And she is an animal.  The pasta and pork and broccoli sat untouched in the fridge.  When I could be bothered, I ate frozen pizza and sliced deli meat.  I didn’t see a vegetable for days.  I did manage a load of laundry and got to the dishes every other day, but there was no way in hell I was touching the bathroom.  I let bills and paperwork pile up on the surfaces with indifference, resumed smoking with a vengeance, and watched an entire season of 30 Rock back-to-back. I didn’t call anybody, except on Friday when I figured it was a good idea to catch up with my friend who owns the next-door bar (having avoided the bar since I got back from break, on account of the smoking lure).  So with spectacularly bad judgment, I went to chill with the various barmen and their girlfriends after midnight and wound up there until dawn, only to awake Saturday afternoon with nothing to show for my week except a smashing hangover and a case of black lung.  Oh, also, four new spots, patchy dry skin, lank hair, and body odor.  I was certainly not the refreshed, scrubbed, and sunny-dispositioned efficiency machine of my fantasies.

If I’m honest, I’ve been holding depression at arms-length for a while, so I shouldn’t have been surprised at how quickly I could backslide into slovenliness.  But how irritating to discover for certain what an effective barrier the Boyfriend’s presence is.  It’s a lot easier to behave well and take better care of myself if I have someone else to care for, and more of a need to keep up appearances.  Could it be that I actually do need to be domesticated?

Hmmph.  The only points in my favor are that I did paint my nails and attend a grueling, two-hour exercise class, and when I shook off my fug of sleep on Saturday, spent the next three hours tidying the flat.  He was all impressed when he got back at how clean it was.  Ha-bloody-ha.  I guess I’m not a totally lost case.  I do seem to embody a lot of ugly stereotypes about men living on their own, however.

On a final note about stereotypes, I’d like to add that the boyfriend promised to vacuum the flat and cook the  neglected escalopes and broccoli for dinner (in return, I scanned a bunch of paperwork for him at the office).  As I slowly climbed the stairs up to the flat at 7:00 tonight, exhausted by my typical day in the rat race, I could hear the vacuum roaring away behind our front door.

“Are you just now vacuuming?”  I was surprised.  No big deal, just surprised he hadn’t done it in the preceding eleven hours I’d been gone.

“No, no, giving it a once-over…  I mean, a second time.  Over.”  I hung up my coat and unzipped my boots, narrowing my eyes in suspicion.

“Why are you wearing shoes, here in our no-shoes household?  Did you only now get back from the shop?”

“Can’t hear you over the vacuum,”  he yelled, hoovering with alacrity.  I wandered past him into the bedroom to change, noting the open eBay bidding window on his computer, and the fact that Emmerdale was also blaring away on the television.  Dinner?  Nowhere in sight.

I went back into the living room, comfortable in my pajamas, and grinned at him.  “You know, at this rate, I’m going to start taking liquid lunches with the guys, shagging the secretaries, and make serious progress with my ulcer and eventual heart disease.  I’ll stagger home to find the roast burnt in the oven and you in a Valium coma after redecorating the living room.”

“It’s the American dream,” says my Scottish boyfriend, patting my bum.  “But I promise I will job-hunt tomorrow and won’t bid on anymore Nirvana LPs.”  And then he went to start dinner.  I am happy he’s home.