"Now that we're both working," my best friend Golda told her husband, "you've got to do your share of the housework."

The way she described it to me, over lunch one Saturday, her spouse couldn't understand why her face gradually took on the color of stewed tomatoes as the discussion evolved."OK," Hasbin said, "I'll make the bed every single day. And," the man grew magnanimous when Golda started choking, "I'll run the vacuum once a week."

"But what about the toilets, sinks and wall?" Golda began to sputter. "What about the oven and the microwave and fridge?"

"What about them?" Hasbin asked.

"We-ell, they get dirty too." Golda said, her voice as hard, but not nearly as pleasant, as a Jolly Rancher. "Are you going to do your share or not."

"All right," Now Hasbin's voice was hard. After all, he explained, he had no objections to doing his part, as long as he knew exactly what was expected of him. "Just how much of all do you figure is my share?"

"Half." Golda closed her mouth like a steel trap. "You do 50 percent and I'll do 50. That way we can keep the house clean, hold down jobs and both be equally overworked."

Hasbin sighed. "Sounds fair enough to me."

Of course, Golda was ecstatic. Somehow she'd expected to run into a little more resistance in her attempts to even out the pressure she was feeling to keep her house together without falling apart herself.

"Of course," she wavered, stuffing her Big Mac wrapper into her empty Coke cup. "Seeing is believing. I'll know for sure when I go home today whether or not my so-called `better half' has shouldered his share of the load."

"Let me know," I said.

Anxious to find out, I called my friend at work the very next day.

"Well?" I asked as soon as she answered the phone.

"Well what?"

"Well, did your hubby follow through on doing his share of the housework? Is he still committed to doing 50 percent of the chores?"

"He sure is!" Golda sounded tired. "This morning he got up and made one side of his bed."