As she does each morning, Judy walked into the living room with the tray of hot coffee. It is a ritual that has surely withstood the test of time in our home ; 40 years worth at least.

We then settle into conversation that normally covers a spectrum of subjects — what we’re doing today, the weather, the headlines, sports scores, doings on the farm, the whole nine yards. We’re never at a loss of subjects over morning coffee. It just percolates, if you’ll pardon the pun.

This morning Judy noted a peculiar story in the news . She gushed a little about it, making no secret as to her proclivity toward the matter.

Apparently, some divorce court Judge somewhere in this great land ( probably California) ruled yesterday that a gentleman was to financially compensate his wife for her years of housework.

Our conversation was thus fomented along lines of what Judy’s appropriate compensation might be for the last 40 years , a subjective deliberation at best. What algorithms did the California judge employ ? Did he happen to notice that he’d opened a colossal can of worms ?

Dating back, did Gloria Steinem ever assign a daily value to house work ? Marlene Dietrich or Betty Friedan ? How about Eleanor Roosevelt or Ruth Bader Ginsberg ? How about it, ladies, what was housework worth in the day ? Peg Bracken, where are you when we need you ?

Without revealing chapter and verse of the values that Judy and I determined, the conclusion was that I owed her $584,000.00 !

Alas ! Judy recognized the reason in my argument : To what avail, piling dollars on top of dollars ? We concluded to call it a draw. It had been another invigorating coffee hour.

Or was it a near miss ? Beware the vicissitudes of coffee conversations.


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