Friday, August 13, 2010

Hand me a tuber

I can remember, as a little kid, watching my paternal grandfather sit in his chair, watching football. We were in Beloit, Wisconsin, and the Green Bay Packers under Vince Lombardi were starting to be a cool team.

Grandfather would sit there - a retired congregational minister - expecting his wife, Clara, to wait on him hand and foot.

Even as a kid, I thought, hey?

Later, growing up, I watched my father, a WW2 vet, leap out of his chair to help with the dishes. But more often - more often than not - he'd watch as my mother would pretty much do all the housework. And then ask for a bowl of ice cream.

By the late 1960s, when I was newly married, I distinctly remember how a fellow 1965 high school grad and I so proudly told each other that we were not ashamed to hang up wet clothes on the line - despite how embarrassing it might be, in full view of the neighbors.

I though of this personal history as I read about the gatherers and hunters who made up nearly all of our human lineage. In such bands, women - the gatherers of vegetables, tubers, small game, etc. - provided the primitive band with at least 70 percent of its calories. The chest-thumping men came up with 30 percent, tops.

And, of course, gatherers and hunters had to work only about 20 hours a week to make do. Men, lolling around the campfire, may have worked even less. Hey, bitch, hand me a tuber.

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