After a day of cleaning here in our newest humble abode, I came up with this short scene between my main characters from Return of the Gods: Matt, the God of War, Crystal, his wife and fellow deity, and Sorscha, Matt's long-lived thrakkoni (shape-shifting dragon) servant.
"Hah!" Crystal chortled from her spot on the loveseat.
"Yes, dear?" Matt looked up from the book he was reading.
"Yes, what, dear?" Crystal asked, eyes blinking over her most innocent smile.
"Don't yes what dear me, my lovely vixen. I know that guffaw you just used. That's the 'I just read something I want Matt to hear' guffaw, now, isn't it?"
"Oh, no, not at all. I found a particular turn of phrase amusing. But now that you mention it...."
"Okay, fine, I wanted you to hear this. So sue me. Harriet Beecher Stowe was a great writer, as I already knew, but I had no idea of anything else she'd written till you dumped me into your huge, sexy library...."
"Thus proving that sometimes it is the size that matters," Matt said, holding his chin up.
"Uh, right. So as I was saying, nobody really knows of much else that she's written other than Uncle Tom's Cabin...."
"Because she didn't write anything else worth reading," Matt interrupted again.
"Then why, husband of mine, if that's your opinion, is a work that's not worth reading preserved and maintained in your library?"
"Oh, I don't know. I knew it was a bad idea to let you read a book written by a woman pretending to be a man talking about how women do things."
"You let me read it?" Crystal pressed daggers that she didn't really feel into her voice. She enjoyed the verbal tussling; Matt was one of the few men she'd ever met who could keep up.
"Oh, I suppose, only in the sense that I owned that copy of the work long before I met you, and so it technically belongs to me. But that wasn't what I meant to say. Anyway, you were saying how wonderful that book you currently hold in your hands is."
"No, I wasn't saying that at all, though I am enjoying it. In this section they're talking about voting, and she's--in the form of a he, of course--actually laying out a case for women's suffrage a few decades before it was ever seriously considered. In the conversation, the guy's friend Bob objects to women going to 'those horrible voting-places' as though they're a filthy disgusting thing that we poor frail creatures shouldn't be forced to visit--and I can't argue against that, really. But then the guy whose point of view is used for the book says: "All places where women are excluded tend downward to barbarism; but the moment she is introduced, there come in with her courtesy, cleanliness, sobriety, and order."
"Mm hmm," Matt hummed, nodding. "She's right, of course, though she forgets that a few more moments after she is introduced, sobriety jumps the hell out of the window as she drives her husband to drink."
"By requiring cleanliness?" Crystal asked playfully.
"No, of course not. Men are generally clean creatures, at least when we're not at war."
"Which you nearly always are. That said, I reject the main hypothesis. I bet that in the cycles where you didn't bring a wife back here, this quaint little palace of yours turned into a pigsty."
"No, it absolutely did not, dear. Dragons love bacon, so no way it would ever bear a population of pigs."
"You know what I mean. You've never even been able to get a sock picked up when I wasn't around to help."
"Sure I can," Matt said.
Crystal took off one of her socks and tossed it on the floor. "Prove it," she said, "and without magic, too."
"I don't know why you'd expect a god to go without magic, but okay, fine." Matt glanced over his shoulder and, grinning, said, "Sorscha, please go pick that sock up."
The thrakkon took a couple of steps toward the sock before Crystal could object. "Sorscha, no! Stop right there. Matt, the deal was for you to pick it up yourself."
"Now why would I do that when I have such lovely helpers?" Matt asked, his face a mask of feigned innocence.
"That's my point. I'll give you that men are generally clean creatures, but only as long as a woman is around to do the physical part of it for them."
"Well, yeah," Matt said as though it had been the most obvious conclusion she could have reached. "Now, can I go back to reading my book?"
Crystal stuck her tongue out at him and went back to reading her own book.
Heh. I am taking over a new place, renting for the time being till we figure out our way around Memphis more. Turns out the people who rented this house before us didn't do much cleaning. In the master bathroom's shower I found way too much hair that doesn't match any color in my family, while in the kitchen it took me four hours to get a flammably dangerous amount of grease out of the stove and hood.
There was a time, I think, that I wouldn't have cared much about all that. I used to be a pig, man, but don't tell the thrakkoni. As I get older, though, I find myself paying more attention to how clean my space is. I scrub doors to remove fingerprints, of all things. Part of it is that I know the lovely lady in my family will be here in a few weeks, and I want her to be impressed by the home, but I have to admit (and hopefully I won't lose my man card for doing so) that the lack of cleanliness bothers me, too.
Oh, and Household Papers and Stories by Harriet Beecher Stowe writing as Christopher Crowfield is a really rather fun read, by the way. It's available through all sorts of options.