A guest post by my favorite flash fiction writer.

Mardith Louisell writes short stories with crazy neurotic narrators. Her fiction, essays, and memoirs can be found most recently in Hospital Drive, Solstice Literary Magazine (“Had They Learned about Jayne Mansfield?”), and Redwood Coast Review, and in the anthology “Travelers’ Tales:  Best Travel Writing 2012.” Beside Myself, a book of flash fiction, is her current project. Follow her at


When we have a party, I do the major preparing and my boyfriend does the setting up. This has been a good plan because we have parties after an event at which I perform and I go from the concert to the party and don’t worry about preparation. When I get home, I make sure he hasn’t forgotten to put on music or put out napkins. Because he doesn’t like sweets, I also check that desserts haven’t been forgotten. He, too, finds this a good division of labor. For a recent party, because the weather was cold and we wanted to serve a warm dish, I couldn’t cook everything beforehand and he had to cook the day of the party. While preparing, we discovered that the chicken was bad.

“Throw it away,” I said.

“But there won’t be enough protein in the rice dish.”

“We’ll add more ham and peppers,” I said.

The recipe had many additions and I knew it would be fine without the chicken but my boyfriend wanted protein. Also, he was grouchy because the friends who were coming were mainly my friends. His friends had been invited but only my friends had RSVPed. He probably thought he was going to wind up doing too much work for what was my party, although that may have been an excuse for not wanting to do too much of this kind of work in any situation.

“Keep it simple,” I said.


Before I left, this is what I did:                    After I left, this is what he did:

Planned the menu                                         Found scallops and sausages in freezer

Chopped red and yellow peppers,            Marinated scallops in lemon and wine

Chopped two kinds of onions                      Sautéed sausage,

Cut bread for a bread salad                       Added spices

Made the bread salad                                 Tasted and retasted

Shopped twice                                             Added oil and wine

Vacuumed                                                    Made salad with special dressing

Cleaned both bathrooms,                          Cut limes

Removed items from shelves                    Added more seasoning

Put away clothes in the front hall,

Swept steps in building common area

Baked 2 desserts

Chopped tomatoes


My boyfriend’s friend came over to help and when they took a tea break, my boyfriend said, “Before I moved in with her, I came over on Saturday, did a few things, then came over at 2 on Sunday and set up. This time, I’ve been cooking all day. It’s a lot more work now that I live here.”

It had taken my boyfriend and me fifteen years to decide to live together and we had only done so because of a fortuitous real estate situation. His friend, married three times and recently reunited with his third wife, said, “Now you know what it’s like to be married.” My boyfriend nodded as though this were true even though it was his choice to do all the extra work.

The food was delicious.



Based in the Bay Area, Judith is an author and Professor Emerita at U.C. Davis


    1. Claudsy, Glad you liked the different format. I wanted some way of measuring the difference. When it’s single spaced, it really shows – because they you can count the dif. tasks and see! (who really worked harder!) but it was too hard to do the single space on this post. Mardi

  1. I have always wanted to make a list of what I do in comparison to what my husband does. It would be very satisfying! Great story!

  2. Tasks seem a little uneven here! When we have this discussion at my house, I get a new appliance of some sort which is his share, Took me a while to catch on to that!

    fun to read.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *