July 2004

Veronica Bond

21st Century Fox

Lackluster Rules for Lackluster Wives

Ladies, brace yourselves. As if women were in need of yet another book denoting some inane rules by which we must follow in order to be bombshells, go-girls, and femme fatales, the authors of The Rebel Housewife Rules have found one more area of our lives that they presume must be meticulously delineated. I must assume that the book was written because Sheri Caldwell and Vicki Todd found themselves completely uninformed when they became wives and, not wanting other women to endure their surely horrible wifely shock, they immediately drew up a guide-book for new and soon-to-be wives. But, if these rules are things that women need to be told, then I worry for them, not as wives, but as competent human beings. Leaning far more toward obvious than rebellious, The Rebel Housewife Rules is a compilation of the most mundane discoveries from women whose heads were stuck so far up their fantasies that any woman who isn’t insulted by their rules must be too dim to understand them.

The women begin by introducing themselves by hair color -- Sheri is the Redhead and Vicki is the Blonde -- because, of course, that is truly how all women wish to be identified. Already I feel so much in common with my new girlfriends whose book is composed of six sections ranging from the addition of babies to married sex; within these sections are short, uninspiring two to three page chapters focusing on specific myths and how the Rebel Housewives found ways to overcome them.

For the most part, I simply wonder if women really think like these two, innocently believing that their husbands will automatically take charge of their lives. According to Vicki, she was shocked when her husband expected her to contribute to the monthly payments -- on time! Hear that ladies? We have to pay our bills by a certain date each month! I’m sure no one who has ever lived with a modicum of independence has ever learned that. Sheri had similar difficulties when her husband didn’t do his laundry as often as she wished, in fact, leaving it for her to do. Now, I don’t know how long she knew this man before they married, but you’d think you’d have some idea of your boyfriend’s laundry schedule. And as far as I’m concerned, if my hypothetical husband insists on leaving his laundry for me, he’s going to have to wear dirty clothes until he decides to do it himself. The women further encourage us to make career choices based on what we like to do -- which is a totally novel idea; frown upon a washing machine wedding gift, calling it useless (I’d like to invite them to use a Laundromat for a year and then call a washing machine useless); and promote the use of anti-depressants and morning alcohol which, though it may be done in jest, just really isn’t that funny. But I’d be lying if I said I learned nothing from this book. I am now fully certain that I will never become a slave to my husband the way these women so “lovingly” have.

These women seem to have forgotten what it was like to be children, as well. If Sheri and Vicki truly thought that all boys were rough and tumble and all girls had dainty tea parties with their dolls, they obviously don’t remember the time they fell out of a tree or got slugged in the face with a baseball bat. Or maybe that was just me, living in reality over here. Apparently, modern girls can be “wild and mischievous,” too, while boys, on the other hand, secretly enjoy cuddling with their mothers -– you’ll just have to get used to them balking in public and learn to save your affections for private mommy time. The women’s irksome traits are furthered by their constant reference to other children as “OPMs” -– Other People’s Monsters. While that may be a fitting description of the unruly animals you had no hand in creating, using this term only makes me think of OPP. And then I have to wonder if that’s what I’m supposed to think -– how could I think of anything else? And do Sheri and Vicki even know what OPP means… or are they just trying to be cute? My mind’s all over the place with this one.

But wait -– the girls aren’t finished yet. As for sex after marriage, their advice is “work it, girl” a phrase is so out-dated that even I won’t say it and I still say “dude.” And their advice on the topic -– “Have an affair, if you must. Just be sure it’s with your husband! It’s a lot safer, easier, less expensive, and can be really fun!” For this is the time that men can enjoy unlimited sex on demand while “newlywed brides, too, look forward to indulging -– finally guilt-free!” And all this time I thought I was supposed to have confidence in what I chose to do with my body and with whom. Dude. I think I just threw up a little.

The thing is -– I don’t even know what these women are rebelling against. Is it their own moronic ideas of what this time in their lives should have been? Is it basic intelligence? Their case is never quite clear, but their misguided ideals and mundane advice is altogether far too apparent. Keeping up with Christmas card lists, cooking nightly healthy dinners, planning flawless family vacations –- if these things didn’t happen for you when you were a child, chances are they aren’t going to happen now that you’re the parent. There’s simply no depth to The Rebel Housewife Rules -– the book is nothing more than a product of these women’s needs to validate the difficulties they endured adjusting to wife- and motherhood. Any halfwit would have figured out most of this stuff already. And if they haven’t, they need far more help than these meager “rules” can give them.

The Rebel Housewife Rules by Sheri Caldwell and Vicki Todd
Conari Press
ISBN: 1573249564
192 pages