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The Art and Science of Homemaking

5 August 2009 4 Comments

This is the first in a series called “Fish Stories”. Fictitious accounts of the owners and authors of books I find at thrift shops. Most likely I will put them up for sale at some point.


Title: The Art and Science of Homemaking

Owner: Mariam Wetter

Purchased: In her 3rd year of marriage by her mother-in-law, Bett. Wrapped in elaborate paper with a note, that read, “Feed your man and he’ll forgive you in the bedroom.”

Mariam Wetter doesn’t mind the smell of bleach, it’s all too familiar to her. In fact the undersides of her fingernails often smell like bleach and later when she touches her husband Edward’s penis, there is the subtle scent of bleach hovering about the two of them as if she were a nurse giving him a sponge bath. I can’t clean what I don’t see and what I see is dirt, she laments this often. Edward is breezy, indifferent and strokes the sofa like it’s a woman and reads his gardening books.  He doesn’t care for sweets anymore but this doesn’t deter Mariam Wetter from making endless amounts and they sit in cupboards and pie chests and gather mold and until she throws them out in a fit of rage, clutching her homemaking guide in her thick, ginger root fingers Milk made the difference don’t you see! It makes men, makes them blubbery and mean and lovely to look at! She’ll scream at him as she tries to push cookies and milk near his stick bug silhouette. When did he shrink? When did she loose his profile? She’s unaware of the timeline and grits her teeth as he gnaws on celery. Gradually fold in cream, should be her motto, as she is often doing this. Folding in the cream, folding in the cream, bloody cream! Sprinkle in the cinnamon, you lousy bastard!

Title: The Art and Science of Homemaking

Author: Mary. W. Cauley

Penned: 1937

Mary W. Cauley is commissioned to write a guidebook for struggling young housewives. She finds the assignment horribly tedious but is persuaded by her editor as her last book “Steamy forebodings at Dern Street” hasn’t done well, no, not at all. This is terribly frustrating as she has hardly touched a pot in her life and the site of food in general nauseates her. She is often guided towards food by her live in “friend” Millie,  like a cow to a slaughter house and only eats to survive. Now, she’s not sure she would like to survive as writing this book sends long, steel shivers to her heart. So she puts the sequel to “Steamy” aside, having done research when Millie was asleep, in her Rover on the streets of Captain Street, which is parallel to Dern Street and sufferers from the same malaise. She then turns to a neighbor down the road who seems to be rooted to the floor of her kitchen. This woman gives her many recipes and suggestions, having also once been married to a farmer. She tells her horror stories of sheep birthing and farmers losing legs in threshing machines and of losing her virginity on a mildewy bed of straw to a local herdsman. Mary doesn’t put that in the book and when it is complete, she and Millie celebrate by concocted a simple fudge but throw in some sorted liquors. It comes out like soup and they pour it down their gullets in midnight merriment.

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4 Comments »

  • Mark Power said:

    I’m not sure I like being told to be nice, clean and organized. I’ll get off topic if I want. So there fascista comment manager! But I digress. loved the writing but momentarily got confused between author and buyer. A simple solution: repeat book title in author’s section. Look, I was nice and clean after all even if I strayed off topic!

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