So you’re a househusband?

What was Mr. Thatcher’s first name? Or, what’s the first name of Oprah’s boyfriend?

I don’t know their first names nor do most people. Those guys are pretty much known to outsiders only by association to the famous women they’re with.

For Americans at least, the most common question asked of new acquaintances is “So what do you do?”

I have an online business, I write this blog, and I teach English as a second language in Mexico. It’s work, but not a regular job; I don’t get a paycheck.

My girlfriend gets a paycheck, so I usually get categorized as a sort of househusband. That’s ok. When the “What do you do?” question arises, I haven’t actually said “Oh, I’m a househusband.” But maybe I’ll start saying it and see what happens.

People, it seems, just want to hear a simple category they know like doctor, lawyer, or Indian chief, so they can file it away and continue on.

It’s almost like asking “How’re you doing?” People expect to hear “I’m well, thanks.” Are they actually interested in hearing about the thing the dermatologist froze on the side of your head this morning?

I was chatting with an education administrator from Berkley who was here visiting. Her son is getting ready to go off to college and she was explaining the advice she gives her son and his friends. It boils down to this: these days, most people entering the workforce will have many jobs rather than careers, and probably many will be freelancers. Is freelancer another name for househusband?

The days of easily categorizing people are changing because the workplace and work itself are changing.