Sometimes when I am up in Maine and the men come to fix things—handsome, attractive people that they are, coming to fix a pipe, to measure, to take apart a motor, to drag a car to the garage—often then I find myself falling into a flirtatiousness, a sort of love for their look, their sunburned faces, their fine oiled workshoes, their way at the wheel of a truck, their jokes about the bill, their ways with other men, downtown drinking coffee, or inside a house under construction, or at the ravaged shed of a boatbuilder, their strong fingers yellowed from nicotine.
Then I think of my father, of Papa, and wonder what it would be like to be married to such a man, to see him coming out of the shower, to sit at dinner at six o’clock, turn off the lights at nine, embrace, make love frequently in honor of a long day of working, get up at five, visit with the relations on Sunday, never leave town.
I wonder about this and of course I know. I know what the men are like, but I do not know what she is like, she with her washing of clothes, her baking, her dangling shutter never mended by the husband-carpenter, the broken lamp never fixed by the household electrician, the flowerless, shrubless plot of land of the town gardener. A mystery, but then one does not come home to start work again.
-Elizabeth Hardwick, Sleepless Nights