Once upon a time, when my dad was still working, I heard him use a term very often while explaining the union unrest in his company. It was about the ‘Dearness Allowance’ being increased or decreased and sometimes frozen (!). I don’t exactly know what it meant, but it sounded good, and I filed it away somewhere..
Recently, the term found a definition for me when I read this in a pocket sized Don’ts for Husbands, 1913, bought on a whim at Crossword the last time the husband and I went out for retail therapy (Don’ts for Wives was out of print, which was the only reason it wasn’t bought)
Pg 14, para three of the book states:
Don’t think that if you married merely to get an unpaid housekeeper, that position is going to satisfy your wife. She could have obtained a good salary as professional housekeeper to any other man if she had wanted to: she married for other reasons.
Not bad for 1913, I thought.
I know many single men who would pay to keep their house in order. On the other hand, there are women who could do with house managers. Fortunately the universe plots so that opposites attract, else most marriages would either be totally competitive or a total mess.
Even so, I think men have a pretty good deal with marriage (even if they are paying EMIs). Women, on the other hand now do two jobs and get paid for one.
Which is when it struck me that all efficient wives should demand a dearness allowance from their husbands. If you do money, job, social graces, aesthetics, food, and children (whenever they appear) with equal finesse, why not make a career out of it?
So I told the husband I wanted to be paid for the following:
For giving him a wardrobe makeover and being his in-house style consultant.
For handling reply-all family correspondence.
For not maxing out his credit card, and for always refusing expensive presents and opting for practical ones.
For turning a gaming parlour into a home.
For replacing Pronto’s in his life with a wholesome three-course lunch.
For introducing him to the fine joys of vegetables.
For being his driver for most social outings.
For replenishing all that rapidly extinguishes in the refrigerator, the grocery cupboard, the toiletry cupboard, miscellanous.
For fixing nonworking plug points, taps, sinks, DVD players, lamps et al.
For replacing sulky maid with smiley maid.
For replacing smiley maid with another smiley maid when we moved house.
For mysterious piles of ironed shirts and trousers appearing in the wardrobe.
For finding his favourite white shirt and his socks.
For subtracting purple stain from aforementioned white shirt.
For relieving him of a quack doctor who fed him animal doses.
For watching movies full of people killing people, blowing up cars, and jumping off choppers with him.
For being a sounding board for what he is currently doing on his PS3 game—how many cars and establishments he has blown up, people he has chain-sawed, guns he has bought, respect points he has earned.
For sensing when is not a good day to talk and giving him space.
Into that heaven of freedom, dear husbands, give us this day our dearness allowance.