When he signed on for two years of volunteer ""housespouse"" duty, to care for newborn Annie, Mike Clary expected to ""mine nuggets of satisfaction and reward where others had found only noise, clutter, and frustration""; he encountered colic, dirty dishes, loneliness, and not a few amusing moments. Clary, an engaging storyteller (now a Miami reporter), recalls the ""baby mixer""/shower--all too reminiscent of college gatherings--where husbands had to be dragged from the kitchen to ooh and ah over booties and rattles; he notes that the playgroup mothers defined him by his wife's occupation (and made him feel like ""the invisible man""); he describes the discomfiture of his basketball teammates when he divulged that he wasn't really staying home to write a novel. For the most part, indeed, the interlinked essays explore how he, and his decision, were regarded by others. Friend Roger, after two years of doubt, came around to thinking he might like to try househusbanding too. Clary's father took the news and fact of his son's new role surprisingly well--and even, much to Clary's surprise, knew a thing or two about babies. Wife Lillian, a college career counselor, tolerated repeated ""Blue Mood Specials"" (fish sticks and brown rice) when Mike was feeling betrayed by the ""emptiness of the homemaker's dream."" Through it all, he learned patience (babies do have their own timetables), the advisability of advance planning (never travel without extra diapers and o.J.), even a new tennis shot (from observing and appreciating tiny Annie's every move). While much of what he tells is familiar (didn't Erma Bombeck write about two-year-olds ""throwing tantrums and Spaghetti-Os""?), the perspective is brand-new and refreshing. Homemakers of both sexes--and their spouses--will find this a captivating view of life as a ""domestic pioneer.