31 May 2010

Expectations

A note before we begin Day 14's adventures: The phrase "leave them wanting more" hardly describes my approach to things. Once this dancing monkey gets attention by doing something, I usually wear it out so badly that I turn people off me forever. Had it not been for the fact that I stated that this was just for two weeks, and my reasons for keeping the 50s Housewife Experiment that short was for the health of my body and self-employment, you can bet this experiment would have carried on and on and on. My blog would have started to feature strange appearances by someone named Cousin Oliver and a post about yours truly taking up water skiing lessons just to show off vintage swimwear.

While Day 14 marked the last official day of the 50s Housewife Experiment, there will be a few more posts that fall into the 50s housewife category. We'll be updating you on our "stats" (weight change, blood pressure, spending, etc.) since taking on this project, going over what was learned by living as a 1950s housewife, and looking at what we might try to incorporate into our everyday lives from it. Patrick will also do a guest post to give his side of the story - and I've had to promise not to edit it. Gah! I believe the phrase you're searching for is, "payback's a bitch."

There may also be the odd occasion where "The 50s Housewife Returns" for "a very special episode of Jen But Never Jenn" as there really is so much in these household guides that could still be exploited.

Finally, I'll be doing a "Phase 2" of the 50s Housewife Experiment where I take on the same / similar goals she had, but do it all 2010-style with modern ideas and information on food, exercise, entertainment and of course - technologies. It will likely lack the kitsch of the 50s, but I imagine there's an audience out there who wouldn't mind seeing poor Patrick choke down some vegan cuisine.


So without further ado, onto that last day:

The morning started a bit late, something typical for a Sunday in the Byck household. I decided for this last day that I would make Patrick a bigger breakfast (well, really, brunch) and take a picture of it, even though it was hardly wacky.
What you see there is a grilled onion and cheddar omelet, homemade hash browns, sausage, toast with butter, half a grapefruit, coffee, milk and an orange and grapefruit sparkler (fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh squeezed grapefruit, topped with a bit of 7-UP).

I realize I haven't been featuring a lot of breakfasts or lunches throughout the 50s Housewife Experiment. Breakfasts weren't all that loopy then and our lunches were usually just leftovers or a really simple brown bag of peanut butter and jelly, fruit and a slice of cheese (I often had a tomato and lettuce sandwich for lunch with fruit and tea - which was actually really nice and light).

That isn't to say there weren't "creative" lunch and leftover ideas to choose from, though. I guess I just didn't hate my husband enough to send him off to work with things like these to eat (for Good Housekeeping's Salad Book):

That tomato salad in the middle, in particular, reminds me of the scene from The Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo slices open his Tauntaun and the white bowels explode out.


When Mia Farrow looks into the crib at the end of Rosemary's Baby, this is what I imagine was staring back at her (from Good Housekeeping's Quick 'N' Easy Cook Book):

And finally, check out this combination of food (from Searchlight Recipe Book):
The lesson from this recipe: Valium is a hell of a drug.

I had decided my final meal for the 50s housewife project wasn't going to be revolting, necessarily, but would be quirky. I settled on making the now-famous Frank n' Bean Bake, broccoli with "Cheez" sauce and Apple Marshmallow Pie.

The Dells had invited us up to the patio for a mid-day BBQ but as it was my last 50s housewife day and I wanted to take it oh-so seriously, we took a rain-check so that I could keep things "on brand" with my experiment. Plus, brunch was pretty substantial and as delicious as BBQ would be, I wanted our appetites strong for dinner.

Shortly after brunch Patrick asked if there was any problem with his sister, Erin, and her two dogs dropping by in a few hours for a quick hello. That sounded great to me (I am lucky to have marvelous in-laws), plus it was enough notice to make sure the condo was up to 50s standards for guests.

As I mentioned the day before, the place doesn't seem quite so sparkly-clean when the both of us have been lounging around. A tidy was definitely necessary before Erin would come by - but it was totally doable and I still had time to finish the last of the laundry.

Perhaps 30 minutes later, as I was folding towels, I heard Patrick call me from the other room.

"I just got a text," Patrick said. "I told Barry to come by and he's on his way over."

I looked up from the laundry and thought, "We can do this. We can totally whip the place into decent shape if we work quickly. There's the breakfast dishes to be cleaned, some straightening up of the living room, a spot-clean of the bathroom, sweeping the floors ..." and then I heard one of my most hated sounds coming from the living room:

E.A. Sports - it's in the game.

Oh, no, he di'n't! Apparently, if you're my husband and your sister and your best friend are en route and the home needs a solid once-over, that's the prime time to start up the ol' Playstation.

And that's when I got a serious case of 50s Housewife Rage.

I won't go into the dirty details, but the language I used to yell at my husband may not exactly have been becoming of a lady. My bow may have gone flying in a certain person's direction. Jabba the Hut may have suddenly showed up and asked "Hey, how did my Rancor get out?", did a double-take of me and then said, "Oh, sorry, I thought you were ... er, my bad." (And yes, that's my second Star Wars reference in this post. You know I'm a total dork, right?)

In any case, Patrick was up and wiping the bathroom vanity moments later even though he didn't understand why it needed to be done as our place was already "totally clean."

In the midst of this, his mother called and I'm sure she unfortunately caught bits of me cursing and muttering each time I came across something Patrick had skipped or "forgot" to do in the cleaning process. That awful, raging woman who married her little prince surely didn't deserve to be called a Byck!

But - we got it done and by the time Barry arrived, we were able to pretend all was idyllic in our little 50s household. Patrick's sister soon arrived as well, with two hilarious dogs in tow - which gave me an idea to test something from the day before.

I still had the leftovers (practically the entire thing) of the Asparagus Meat Mold in the fridge, stinking up the joint. Was it in fact the dog food I made it out to be?

Even the docile lab, Ziggy, was thrilled when I pulled the little meat monster out of the fridge. Oakley, her excitable Jack Russell, lost his mind and all manners and began jumping for it. I put it in a bowl (but excluded the peas / olives / mayonnaise part), laid some newspaper down and let them have at it.

They loooooved it.

When I started this experiment, I had no idea that I would become such a gourmet.

Anyway ... Erin and the dogs eventually had to go, and while it would have been nice if she could have stayed longer, I have to admit I was relieved the dogs were out of there before the Asparagus Meat Mold made it fully through their systems (we all know that was not going to be pretty). As it was a lovely day outside and since my dinner recipes were fairly easy, we decided to all take a little break and have a drink on the rooftop patio.

And that was my 50s housewife downfall.

You see, for this experiment, I've been greeting Patrick with a new cocktail nearly every day on his return from work. A vodka martini. A gin martini. A Manhattan. A Cuba Libra. A Tom Collins, etc., etc. This meant that our bar had a little of everything to choose from.

Unfortunately, a little of everything is what we decided to drink that afternoon.

How three grown adults with plenty of experience with the pitfalls of mixing drinks didn't stop the following from happening, I'll never know, but in the course of a few hours, we EACH had the following:

  • Pimm's with 7 Up
  • Rum and coke
  • Canadian Club and coke
  • Gin and tonic
  • Vodka and tonic
  • Just straight vodka because we ran out of mix
Oh, how I wish I could say I was exaggerating.

We drank this all while sitting under the sun with nothing in our stomachs besides the day's earlier brunch.

And then Barry had a brilliant idea that we should go for beer at The Press Club. Genius! Off we went, a trio of well-lubricated tools for - you guessed it - more alcohol. We were met by a friend, Pat Travers (we know a lot of Patricks), and Barry's fiance, Brigitte, who were no doubt proud to hang with people who were swaying while seated. Then it was beer, beer, beer. I ordered the organic type! Because that was healthy!

Parts of the evening are still a little fuzzy but I recall at one point my husband was yapping with the people at the table next to us (because everyone wants to start drunk-talking with us) and he mentioned my 50s housewife experiment to them.

"So, she's pretending to be a 50s housewife right now?" they asked confused.

I'm sure if they were looking over at me at that moment (and they probably were - but I couldn't quite tell as my eyes had started floating off in different directions by that point) they would have seen an exceptionally disheveled woman, slumping in her seat, licking her arm in attempt to cool it from the slight sun burn received that afternoon.

"I'm supposed to be making pie," I bellowed.

Finally, some force of nature - which may have been the bouncer - got us up out of our seats and heading home. We caught a cab and as Patrick and I were driven home, I started to sulk.

"This was supposed to be my last day with the 50s housewife thing and I totally ruined it," I slurred.

"Remember, we started this for fun. It didn't really matter if you did it all. We had fun today regardless," said Patrick, who was clearly able to hold his liquor better than I could, but was still totally wasted.

"Whhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyy did we get so druuuuuuunk? I had a plaaaaaan. FRANK N' BEAN BAKE. THERE WAS GOING TO BE FRANK N' BEAN BAKE," I moaned.

"Oh my god, I'm starving," said Patrick.

I had to agree with him. It was 11:52 P.M. and we'd been drinking all day with only one meal in the morning tiding us over.

The cab dropped us off at our place and we decided to run to Wendy's to get some food. Ugh. What an epic, epic failure of a 50s day. I had decided, though, that if I didn't technically have a bite of fast food until after midnight, when my experiment was officially over, it wasn't cheating.

We ordered our food (just in time, too, as the restaurant closed at 12:00 A.M.) and came home with it. Before I could eat, I had to go to the bathroom. As I was sitting on the toilet, peeing out gallons of alcohol, I kept thinking about the blog and what a horrible, silly ending this was for it. I contemplated lying about the day and making up some sort of truly 50s-themed adventure ... but then I'd have to kill all the witnesses that I was drinking with, and that wasn't a very nice thing to do. I thought about extending the experiment for a day just to get one more 50s meal in, but that seemed ridiculous too. And then I thought it was just best to be honest and fess up to my disastrous non-50s day - because not all experiments are meant to be perfect.

I nearly cried when I emerged from the washroom. Normally when we have fast food, we splay it all out in the packaging it came in and slob out on the couch to gorge ourselves. This time, while I was on the can feeling sorry for myself, Patrick had pulled our burgers and fries out of the bags for us:
On plates. At the table. Like at a good little 50s home. He pulled out my chair, gave me a drunk but sweet kiss and said, "After you, Mrs. Byck."

I don't think he even realized what he had done.

I love him.

Image Sources: Dole advertisement, circa 1946 and The Bride's Reference Book.

15 comments:

Jen 10:49 pm, May 31, 2010  

I only just discovered this the other day, but it is by far the best thing I've read in maybe forever. I'm so sad that it's over, but I'm really excited for the modern version!

And I think you have the most amazing husband ever! May not have been the ending you planned, but it couldn't have been sweeter!

Housewife Fan,  7:38 am, June 01, 2010  

I so loved this series! I looked forward to it everyday.

I'm really eager to hear what your results are and will definitely follow you as you do the modern version!!

Anonymous,  12:35 pm, June 01, 2010  

*Aw* I think I like this ending even better than if you had successfully made marshmallow pie (although I still want to see that!).

Thanks for such s good read!

Jen 3:01 pm, June 01, 2010  

Thanks again for the comments, everyone!

Jen: You just made my husband's day!

HF: Thank you. It's all coming veryyy soon!

Anon: You never know, the Apple Marshmallow Pie could make a surprise appearance one of these days!

pat,  9:49 pm, June 01, 2010  

The drinking adventures of your last day reminded me of the little guy with the white cap, "fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is. Alka Seltzer, Speedy alka seltzer (likely spelled wrong"...he is so 50's!
Glad to hear that chivalry is alive and well...great ending!

Julie 10:53 am, June 04, 2010  

I finally got around to reading every entry, and I love this too much for words. Thanks, Jen!

Kat 7:46 pm, November 03, 2010  

I just stumbled across refrence to this experiment today, read through the entire thing, and I have to say you've inspired me! You see, I'm a housewife, complete with 2 young (2&4) children and a working husband! I'm ashamed to admit that cleaning does NOT take a priority, simply for the fact that, as soon as it gets clean, the kids(or hubby) messes it back up. I tidy, I don't really clean. However, in the middle of reading this, I literally got up, picked up everything in the living room and vacuumed(even though it was only 3:30 pm and my kids are up for another 5 hours) and immediately did some dishes (though I used my dishwasher). While I don't think I'll be following the 50's housewife cleaning schedule to a tee, I plan to print it out and use it to help motivate me to do some extra cleaning every day, just a little something to make the big stuff easier. So thank you! Also, you're hilarious,

frodelicious 4:54 pm, January 14, 2011  

Jen,

If you ever want ideas for retro cocktails, let me know! It's my specialty.

Cheers!

Blair
http://goodspiritsnews.wordpress.com

P.S. Here's a link to some great hangover cures: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/the-hangover-cure/8333/

Delaney,  9:48 pm, March 22, 2011  

I just found this blog. I've read every post, it's so cute and funny.
This by far was my favorite post though. You have a very sweet, loving husband, and he clearly has a sweet and loving wife.
Loved your series.

Malia 3:49 pm, August 05, 2011  

I just found your blog last night and have since read almost every entry! I love it! Where did you find the old magazines and cookbooks?! I am so inspired by you and your experiment that I may try it out myself. Where did you find the old textbook, magazines, and cookbooks?

RoamingGnome2 2:29 am, August 07, 2011  

Haha aww I almost cried at the end. How sweet of him!

Also, I never realized (until reading your blog) that they really ate weird mixtures of *ahem* crap back then. No wonder my grandmother comes up with bizarre creations involving cream cheese and pickles.. I'm the only one in the family brave enough to try it.

Though her insistance on me getting a girdle is a bit of a pain. haha oh man I loveeee this blog!

CM 10:59 pm, June 06, 2012  

I literally awwwed out loud at the end. Thank you so much for writing this series.

JamiG4,  3:46 pm, March 19, 2013  

A friend of mine recently turned me onto your blog and I read through the entire 50's Housewife experiment over the course of the day. You are brilliant! Love the humor, the Star Wars references and all of it. Oh, just realized I have to read Patrick's summary! I'm off to it. Hugs and thanks for MANY laughs (read much of this aloud to my husband who also had many).

Anonymous,  2:01 pm, February 19, 2014  

Just discovered this and it is hilarious. It's 'helping' me procrastinate finishing my thesis- but thank you, thank you anyway!

Kate

troismommy 12:35 pm, July 08, 2014  

I've been mainlining MadMen the last few weeks and am fascinated by the whole 50s/60s era. I have been thinking of doing a similar (but less restricted) experiment of my own.

This was great, entertaining, AND educational! :)

~Genevieve

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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