How Can Such a Pretty Wife Make Such Bad Coffee?

I thought we were done with all of this.

I thought we were done with the Folgers’ commercials where a smiling young wife, dressed in a shirtwaist, hair and makeup done to perfection, with a smile and a cheerful, “Your coffee sir,” hands a cup to her husband as he stands before the mirror, face still half covered with shaving cream. “Thanks, Beautiful,” he says, takes a sip and then says loud enough for her to hear him, “How can such a pretty wife make such bad coffee.”

The horror! A wife who can’t make coffee that pleases her husband.

If only she had bought the right coffee – Folgers. Perhaps then she could be pretty and competent.

There is an assault on women in the public discourse.

I get it that Bishops and the Pope believe that God is telling them that women are incubators or incubators in waiting. I get it that they are so afraid of their own sexuality, they must control a woman’s. I get it that women are circumcised in cultures that practice it so they won’t be tempted to seek fulfillment of their sexual desires, and thus disrupt the order of the society.

I get it. You have the right to believe it – but you don’t have the right to foist your fear-based dogma onto the body and souls of others.

My mother’s generation believed they had no choice – wife and mother was the only option. My generation of women believed we had to make a choice – career or family. The generation that followed me believed they were supposed to do it all – career and family – effortlessly, the way men did it.

Of course, men didn’t do it effortlessly in the time period I’m referring to. They had wives who provided the effort part.

I think these were surface options that led us to believe we had to make a choice that we didn’t have to make.

I think women need to feel beautiful. We need to have our beauty seen, experienced, and appreciated. We need to feel safe being beautiful.

I don’t mean beautiful in the way media portrays it – the photo-shopped, botoxed, surgically cosmeticized ideal.

I mean beautiful in how we walk in balance in our daily lives – balancing the soul and care of our selves with our desire to connect with and care for those we love.

The beauty of our aging bodies and faces. The beauty of our hearts and minds.

I think many of us thought we had to choose between being smart and being beautiful. If we were smart, we could not be sexually desirable, which meant we had no sexuality at all.

And so, you have someone like Rush Limbaugh becoming rich by labeling us as feminazis and NAGs (National Association of Gals – his name for the National Organization of Women). Implicit in his message is why would any man want to have sex with a nag or feminazi? Or a woman who does like sex is a slut.

The real question is, why would any of us want to have his naked body, oozing with toxic hatred for women, within one hundred miles of us, our daughters, our nieces, our granddaughters, our young friends?

I’m kind of surprised by the depth of anger – actually of outrage – that I’ve been experiencing as I hear women’s rights to their bodies and their lives under assault. Surprised because I thought I had exorcised it over the years. Surprised that my outrage is a sign that I have finally detoxified myself of the belief system that shames women for being sexual beings with minds and hearts.

I am very lucky. Tom has told me repeatedly that I am beautiful. He wondered, he said, if I truly believed that I was beautiful. He repeated it enough that I finally believe it, feel it. He helped me tame the demons who whispered in my soul’s ear that I was ugly and monstrous because my very being could stir fear and discomfort in the status quo, or those who cling to it.

I learned over the years that for me, good coffee depends on the coffee grounds you start with. I like the richness of an Italian roast. We have a cappuccino maker because that’s how we like our coffee, Tom and I. We usually make our own, but sometimes we make a cup for the other.

My beauty does not depend on a cup of coffee or making life seem effortless to family. Let’s not return to a time where good money could go into making commercials to shame women into keeping their minds, souls, and hearts small.

About the time that Mr. Coffee machines came out (in the early Seventies) there was this joke:

“Have you heard about the Ms. Coffee machine? You turn it on and it says, ‘Make your own damn coffee.’”

Links to truly sad Sixties commercials.

6 thoughts on “How Can Such a Pretty Wife Make Such Bad Coffee?

  1. You ARE beautiful, Karen… always have been! I see you as a contrast to ME. In your case some of the rough edges have been honed with maturity, in my case I see myself with more edge than ever. It’s only been the last few years that I’ve truly been able to understand why it’s there, and it’s an almost hopeless task to try to rein it in.

    You’re not the only ones who need to feel beautiful. A woman I met in San Francisco at a gift shop in 1974 told me that more men than women would stop and admire themselves in the mirror in her store. For me, the frequent trips to the gym are not just to keep me healthy so I can do more things for more years, I am deep down VAIN. I want to look good in a tux, I want to look good for my wife, and I want to look like I belong in the same horn section next to that very attractive female sitting next to me in the Black Hills Symphony.

    Does this blog make my ass look fat?


    • Yeah, those rough edges . . . And when they get exposed, they need to be exposed. But then, oh shit. Don’t rein them in!

      And as for that ass of yours . . . It looks great!


  2. LOVE this definition of beauty: I mean beautiful in how we walk in balance in our daily lives – balancing the soul and care of our selves with our desire to connect with and care for those we love.



    • The Navajo Changing Woman chant is beauty to the left of me, beauty to the right of me, beauty before me, beauty behind me. If you can’t feel that, it means you are out of balance. No judgment to it. Just you are out of balance.


  3. I thought we were done with all this too. It seems that when the economy is bad, the impulse it to take it out on women, minorities, the poor, and the disabled.

    But just when I am completely depressed about how far women need to go, I watch the vintage Xerox commercial and realize just how far we have come. Back then the disabled were barred from school and now we have laws that guarantee them a public education. But it’s two steps forward, one step back. Right now we are clearly in the step back mode.


    • I think the Xerox commercial might be even more egregious than the Folgers commercials. We just have to keep on remindin’ folks that we won’t take it. And we will stand up for those who used to get shoved to the side. Like what you do with Katie. Beautiful woman.


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