"Men with Their Big Shoes"
from The Lottery and Other Stories, by Shirley Jackson
I don't particularly like Mrs. Hart-- smug, self-satisfied, "congratulating herself" over her success in life-- but I'd side with practically anyone against Mrs. Anderson. Ugh. Someone-- a very disagreeable, bossy someone-- coming into my house, trying to run my life? No, thank you.
As much as I dislike Mrs. Anderson, I find her funny... in an infuriating way. When Mrs. Hart wants a second cup of tea, she grudgingly hands her a cup: "'I just washed this,' she said, 'but it's your cup. And your house. I guess you can do what you want to.'" Gee, thanks. And then taking away the teapot, "'I'll just wash this,' she said, 'before you decide to drink any more.' She dropped her voice. 'Too much liquid spoils the kidneys.'"
Mrs. Anderson is a confirmed man-hater, which is obnoxious, but I'm also annoyed when Mrs. Hart expresses the belief that "a successful marriage is the woman's responsibility". How about it's the responsibility of both husband and wife?
Ah, and don't we all just love the Mrs. Martin style of cashier, with her "keen-eyed" observation of what we're buying-- and commentary on those purchases?!
Back to Mrs. Anderson, who is contemplating what would happen to her if her husband threw her out of the house: "'Mrs. Martin was thinking if you wanted me to I could come right into your spare room. Do all the cooking.' 'You could,' Mrs. Hart said amiably, 'except that I'm going to put the baby in there.' 'We'd put the baby in your room, 'Mrs. Anderson said. She laughed and gave Mrs. Hart's hand a push. 'Don't worry,' she said, 'I'd keep out of your way. Well, and if you wanted to put the baby in with me then I could get up at night to feed it for you. Guess I could take care of a baby all right.'"
Let's all shudder together, shall we, over the last line of the story:
"Looking up at Mrs. Anderson's knowing smile across the table, Mrs. Hart realized with a sudden unalterable conviction that she was lost."
So! Doing your own housecleaning doesn't sound so bad now, does it, Mrs. Hart? I shall remind myself of this the next time I'm doing disagreeable chores. (Of course, I'm that type of person who would feel compelled to clean before the cleaning lady came, so I wouldn't be embarrassed by the mess... so a housemaid really wouldn't be ideal, anyway. Even if she wasn't a Mrs. Bossypants.)