The great thing is to begin right. Marriage is a close corporation, and unless a fellow gets the controlling interest at the start he can’t pick it up later. The partner who owns fifty-one per cent. of the stock in any business is the boss, even if the other is allowed to call himself president. There’s only two jobs for a man in his own house—one’s boss and the other’s office-boy, and a fellow naturally falls into the one for which he’s fitted.
Of course, when I speak of a fellow’s being boss in his own home, I simply mean that, in a broad way, he’s going to shape the policy of the concern. When a man goes sticking his nose into the running of the house, he’s apt to get it tweaked, and while he’s busy drawing it back out of danger he’s going to get his leg pulled, too. You let your wife tend to the housekeeping and you focus on earning money with which she can keep house. Of course, in one way, it’s mighty nice of a man to help around the place, but it’s been my experience that the fellows who tend to all the small jobs at home never get anything else to tend to at the office. In the end, it’s usually cheaper to give all your attention to your business and to hire a plumber.
You don’t want to get it into your head, though, that because your wife hasn’t any office-hours she has a soft thing. A lot of men go around sticking out their chests and wondering why their wives have so much trouble with the help, when they are able to handle their clerks so easy. If you really want to know, you lift two of your men out of their revolving-chairs, and hang one over a forty-horse-power cook-stove that’s booming along under forced draft so that your dinner won’t be late, with a turkey that’s gobbling for basting in one oven, and a cake that’s gone back on you in a low, underhand way in another, and sixteen different things boiling over on top and mixing up their smells. And you set the other at a twelve-hour stunt of making all the beds you’ve mussed, and washing all the dishes you’ve used, and cleaning all the dust you’ve kicked up, and you boss the whole while the baby yells with colic over your arm—you just try this with two of your men and see how long it is before there’s rough-house on the Wabash. Yet a lot of fellows come home after their wives have had a day of this and blow around about how tired and overworked they are, and wonder why home isn’t happier. Don’t you ever forget that it’s a blamed sight easier to keep cool in front of an electric fan than a cook-stove, and that you can’t subject the best temper in the world to 500 degrees Fahrenheit without warming it up a bit. And don’t you add to your wife’s troubles by saying how much better you could do it, but stand pat and thank the Lord you’ve got a snap.
I remember when old Doc Hoover, just after his wife died, bought a mighty competent nigger, Aunt Tempy, to cook and look after the house for him. She was the boss cook, you bet, and she could fry a chicken into a bird of paradise just as easy as the Doc could sizzle a sinner into a pretty tolerable Christian.