Wearing my Freudian slip

Good afternoon, Doctor. Should I just lie down over here?

Forgive me if I'm a little nervous. I've never been in psychoanalysis before, but I understand how it works. I've seen all of Woody Allen's movies, so I feel like a veteran of the couch.

My problem? Getting right to the point, eh? Not interested in hearing about my childhood first? My fear of snakes?

OK, OK, the reason I'm here is, well, I'm starting to worry about my masculinity. There, I've said it. Now, I'll just be going . . .

All right already, don't get your goatee in a knot. I'm back on the couch.

Yes, my masculinity. You heard me right. I don't stutter, Sigmund.

What? Am I angry? Yeah, I'm . . . No. I'm not angry. Just uncomfortable. This is a tough subject to discuss.

It all began when I became a househusband. I'm a writer and my job, such as it is, can be done at home. My wife and I have two sons, and it only made sense that one of us stay home to handle school transportation and summer vacations and housework. I gladly took on the role--

Yeah, the housework. Why are you giggling? Men can do housework, if pressed. It's not that hard to keep a clean house, as long as no one looks behind the furniture. But we're getting off the topic here. As I was saying--

What? No, I don't wear an apron. What kind of crack is that? All my clothes are dotted with grease stains because I refuse to wear an apron.

No, I don't have an "issue" with aprons. Do you want to hear my problem or not?

OK, so I've been a househusband for years now and overall it's going fine. But my career still isn't as lucrative as it should be. And housework gets to be a repetitive drudge. And my kids drive me crazy and . . .

No, I can't just go back to work. First of all, I don't want a regular job. Working at home is great. My schedule is my own and I never have to wear a necktie. Secondly, we've arranged our lives around having one spouse at home, tending the children and the house and the lawn. Even if I wanted to go back to a regular office, it wouldn't be possible.

But I worry about whether I'm still a Real Man. I'm not the main breadwinner in the household, and that makes me feel inadequate. I feel guilty because my wife works so hard while I'm hanging out at the swimming pool with my sons.

OK, those may be normal responses, but other things really bother me. For instance, I find myself taking an aberrant interest in home decorating. I never used to care about that stuff. I find myself thinking about supper first thing in the morning -- what should I thaw, what vegetables go with what entree. I'm troubled by dust bunnies and cobwebs. These aren't manly obsessions.

Hobbies? I have a few, but they're not the type Ernest Hemingway would pursue. It's not like I could take up hunting or something. Can you imagine my kids' reactions if I came home with Bambi strapped to the bumper? And physical activity of any kind seems redundant after a day spent mowing and vacuuming.

Mm-hm. Yeah. Sure.

That's your advice? Remember that a man's worth isn't determined by his paycheck? Why don't you just have that done up as a needlepoint sampler and hang it outside your door? Save me $100 an hour.

No, I don't do needlepoint, you jackass. One more crack like that, and I'm going to exercise my masculinity on your head.

Sorry, sorry. I guess I've got a lot of pent-up aggression.

Yeah, I could treat my stay-at-home career more like a real job. Maybe that would help. Maybe it would distract me from the demands of the household and help me focus on the work that actually earns some money. Then I'd feel more fulfilled.

What's that? I might even want to wear a necktie? In my own home? Are you kidding?
I'd rather wear an apron.

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