MAN OF THE HOUSE

Yard work? Sure, after his nap

"Blahhhh," says the baby.

"See? He's exhausted," I say.

"Blaa, blaa, blaa," says the baby.

"Don't push it," I tell him.

I am an early and constant riser. At 7 a.m., I was walking both dogs, standing for what seemed like hours as they licked last night's rainwater from the neighbors' ivy. To them, it's better than Starbucks.

Then I wiped their muddy feet — that's eight very soggy, very reluctant paws — made coffee, ran out for doughnuts, bought a yellow calla lily for Easter, picked out 12 packs of seeds and returned to the house by 9 a.m., at which time I called around to see if our softball game was canceled due to rain. It was.

"Dad's been busy," notes the little girl.

"Thank you," I say.

"We've earned our rest," says the baby.

"Well put," I say.

"Jeeesh," says the wife.

A little nap, that's all. You'd have thought they caught me putting hemlock in their iced tea.

As a friend recently noted about wives, the personal traits they found so appealing in us in the first place now seem to annoy them the most. In my case, that's a smoldering sexuality and a keen intellect.

Plus, a spontaneous side that leads me back to bed at 9 in the morning for a quick nap, from which I'll awaken refreshed and more dynamic than ever.

Who'd she think she was marrying, a machine? No. She was marrying me. The Willy Wonka of the American suburb.

"Did Dad just take a nap?" the boy asks when I stumble from the bedroom.

"It was more like a short coma," I explain.

I have another plan. In addition to rehabbing the backyard for summer, I want to put in a dog wash. "A dog wash?" You must be saying to yourself. "How brilliant! How moist!"

Yes, a little dog wash over along the side of the house, where I currently store the wheelbarrow and the empty clay pots.

It'll be like a mini-shower for the dog, with a flexible nozzle and a tiled basin with a built-in seat. I'll be able to bathe the dogs without lifting them awkwardly into the utility sink. When I'm done, I can tie them in the sun to dry.

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