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Aug-10-2010 12:06printcomments

Labor Day Fallout

Most Guys Don't Retire To Be Hit With Chores!

(SALEM, Ore.) - With Labor Day beckoning, now is the ideal time to get this mini grievance off my chest and share it with an empathic world. For the record, I did not retire from being a social worker/counselor to transfer to being a f/t male housewife!

Am I merely a voice in the wilderness in declaring my determination to savor my new-found leisure time? I prefer to think otherwise.

Counting the years backwards, I first began my two careers in 1963. That job was as an investigative reporter for a suburban NYC weekly. I covered some exciting community news, including Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial and an interview of Marine Cpl. Hubert Clark, the first Black ever to be a presential pallbearer. That event was President Kennedy's funeral.

In subsequent years I tackled editorial challenges at The Long Island Post and The Civil Service Leader newspapers. Then in 1972 I decided to take an MSW in community organization and test out a second career: counseling. That was a new kind of interviewing, clients instead of feature subjects. Of course all those writing tricks I had garnered were now used for documentation of client files.

Between 1975 and 2008 my counseling took me to four different states and a wide variety of settings. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction. It supplied me deeper appreciation of people and their problems. I saw first-hand how folks cope with setbacks and yet manage to find unusual resiliency. My mission as I viewed it was simply being a problems solving coach on the sidelines.

Looking backward, I invested those years of 1963-2008 working for a living and giving heart-and-soul to an array of employers--45 year in total. Hence when it came time to retire some two years ago, my dream was to become my own boss and spend my leisure at will.

However, my dear spouse had another game plan for me. She felt my liberation from an outside worksite opened the way to get me involved in daily domestic chores of her choosing. Her concept of "partnership" was to assign me a key part in doing chores almost njava-script. Naturally, I cringed at that thought.

Ultimately we worked out a balance of sorts. I continue to wash the dishes and jointly shop for groceries with her. She handles the weekly laundry and we now share meal prep. Breakfast is done DYI usually. For lunch and supper I take care of salad preparation and lining up the needed plates; she cooks the main course.

The extensive garden is problematic. Wifey does the watering generally while I attempt to pluck those ever-present weeds. She picks fruits off the plum tree and we gleefully join forces to mingle other fruits into a blender concoction.

Still I savor my community volunteer work which I do almost daily. Simply put, being confined to the house is not my idea of a fun retirement. Sometimes my mate thinks I "go overboard" and tells me that I need to spend more time at home to fulfill assorted unfulfilled tasks. Frankly, it's hard to accept this domesticity.

Will this rebellious retiree ever be truly "housebroken"? I deem it my spouse's unrealisic vision of the hubby's role, a fantasy unlikely to materialize. I simply will not be shackled to my house like a canine. Perhaps I would rather go ARF.

=========================================== Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. Lee Coyne once worked for The Civil Service Leader in NY State and covered the Legislature. He has also done features on mediation and arbitration, and believes in healthy skepticism. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.

He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address:

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