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Just read a tweet,

My fantasy is having two men at once. One cooking. One cleaning.

Is it a word play in wich 'cleaning' refers to a sexual intercourse or, actually, 'cleaning' is there intended having its literal meaning?

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Great question! Jokes are always difficult in a foreign language. –  nxx Mar 6 at 1:03
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I am pretty sure the user meant the non-sexual form of cleaning. It's a joke based on the fact that men think about sex, not about house-chores. –  ADTC Mar 11 at 8:00

8 Answers 8

Here's how I interpret it:

My fantasy is having two men at once.

This has a very obvious sexual meaning.

One cooking. One cleaning.

This makes you reinterpret the earlier sentence with a non-sexual meaning:

My fantasy is having [one man cooking for me while another man cleans for me].

This subverts your expectations, which may be funny to you (depending on your sense of humor).
I think it retains some of the overtones of the original sentence, however.

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While I agree that some of the overtones of the original impression might remain, I would clarify that, in any other context, cleaning (and cleaning, for that matter) is not an innuendo for anything sexual (or at least not that I'm aware of). –  Doc Mar 6 at 4:33
    
@Doc I think it can be used in a sexual way, although I'm trying to think of a good example. "Dusting out the cobwebs" is one, but there are other much better ones. In this case, though, it is a PG rated joke. –  JFA Mar 7 at 1:34
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@JFA certain specific acts of cleaning/cooking maybe, but not the term "cleaning" or "cooking" (that I can think of). –  Doc Mar 7 at 5:27
    
@Doc "Maid outfit" –  Izkata Mar 9 at 5:34

Neither of the words "cooking" nor "cleaning" have any sexual connotation whatsoever. That's the joke. By attaching such mundane activities to a fantasy, one that starts with such an obvious sexual tone, it becomes a turn of phrase meant to make you laugh. It's a PG rated joke.

EDIT: I'd like to add one small thing. Even though it is becoming less so, cooking and cleaning are still considered tasks that fall to women. So in this case, a woman fantasizing about two men performing those tasks is a play on gender-roles and her wish to escape them. I'm a heterosexual woman, but I often joke that what I really need is a wife. The joke in question has a similar play on traditional gender roles.

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None, whatsoever? Maybe a little,depending on your imagination… (though I don't think they do in the joke) Hey, good looking, whatcha got cookin'? How's about cooking something up with me? –  Joshua Taylor Mar 6 at 18:14
    
OK, a tiny sexual connotation in some contexts. In this context, the joke stems from utter lack of sexual connotation. Gotcha, though. :) –  Jolenealaska Mar 8 at 1:54

It's a joke. When you read the first sentence -- "My fantasy is having two men" -- you immediately think that she's talking about sex. Then when she says "one cooking, one cleaning", she is saying that it's not about sex at all, it's about housework. That's why it's a joke. She starts out making you think she's talking about sex, then pulls the rug out from under you when she makes it apparent that she's NOT talking about sex. (I think this joke is originally from Rita Rudner. Personally I thought it was pretty funny.)

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Oh but you didn't finish the joke.

... One cooking in my oven, one cleaning my pillows, and then both guys doing some housework.

Other than that, the only word that had more than one meaning was having.

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Jay is 100% correct. The humor lies in the overturning of expectations in the set-up line from the word “having,” which, in English, has a clearly sexual connotation. This joke works well in English because the language is compact — in this case, all the punch-line words are Anglo-Saxon, rather than Latinate, and therefore more efficient from a timing and syllabic perspective. Think how awkward this would be in French, in which language you can’t just say “having two men,” without violating the grammatical rules of L’Académie Francaise: J'ai deux hommes. L’un qui fait la cuisine et l’autre qui fait le ménage. Somehow, this lacks the punch (by the way, French perfection is not guaranteed).

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+1 for your comparison with French. Indeed, English is much more flexible. (btw, I brushed up your French) –  Laure Mar 6 at 18:34
    
I've had a go at putting it into French, honestly I think I didn't do too badly. It's on the chat on fr.se. You need 20 reputation to join the chatroom, but just by registering you can get 100 at once. –  Laure Mar 6 at 18:57
    
Many jokes are based on word play, like a word having two meanings, or two words sounding similar. Such jokes rarely translate well into other languages. –  Jay Mar 7 at 16:06

Despite how ruined I've become thanks to the internet, I don't think this one is a sexual joke, but a common joke that is not limited to English language only.

In my interpretation, the tweet describes a situation where a woman has two lovers who do some of her housework. As a male, let me tell you that cooking a full course meal for even a small family and washing all the dishes afterwards takes a lot of time and is very exhausting.

You could swap the sexes and get a joke about how a man wishes he could have all his house work done by two women. And in some countries this isn't a fantasy or even an uncommon scenario.

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It is a sexual joke. The innuendo is in the "having". "Having two men/women at once" is usually used as a way to talk about a threesome (an impression made stonger here by the use of the word "fantasy"). That's then subverted completely by the second sentence. The subversion is what makes it funny. –  starsplusplus Mar 7 at 10:16
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The joke could work if it was a man saying "... having two women ...", but I don't think it would work as well. Part of the humor comes from the fact that a woman is saying that she wants a man to do what is traditionally a woman's job. With the sexes reversed the joke wouldn't have the same connotations, and probably many women would say it was sexist and get mad rather than laugh. –  Jay Mar 7 at 16:08
    
@Jay I almost included the "possible sexist reaction" part into my answer, but decided not to, since the joke could be considered so both in original and reverserd form. –  user1306322 Mar 7 at 16:14

I don't think that it's meant to be sexual in this instance - it's a fairly straightforward joke.

Some alternatively-minded people might read it as sexual, though: 'cleaning' is one word used to refer to a person giving oral to a female (can be male, but more often female) after she has had sex without a condom.

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hmm, way I read this is that it is actually subverting the entire notion of mens fantasies monopolising fantasy as a sexual imagining only... and the things that patriarchy has through the years imposed on women, such as cleaning and cooking are then made to be cleverly worthy of fantasy and in a way that says "how about forgetting your fantasies that treat women as subjects (and objects!) and having to do the crap they have to do". All done in a very clever play on words.

The cleaning and cooking sounding like sexual allusions reveals that this above meaning/reading is also well aware of the potency and practice of sexual fantasy too, which again is persuasive and impressive. Nice joke indeed :)

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