REMOTELY CONTROLLING

Remote control devices may be modern accomplishments, but remote control itself has been with us since marriage was invented. Women have been using it from Day One. Eve probably said to young Cain and Abel, “Your father’s out by the apple tree. Go tell him it’s time to reset the serpent traps.”

Cleopatra surely sent off many a billet doux on scented papyrus that brought Julius Caesar, and later Marc Antony, racing to her in galleys and chariots with chests full of precious gems.

We can’t blame women for being remote controllers. When it gets right down to it, they’re the ones in charge and they’re usually very busy and can’t be every place at once for goodness sake. They’ve got to get their instructions out somehow.

It was a lot tougher for them in the old days when they had to send messengers scurrying in all directions, but modern technology advances, most likely invented by men, have helped women streamline their communications and solidfy their control of us guys.

Go into any supermarket and you’re sure to find a man in one of the aisles pushing a cart with one hand and holding a cell phone to his ear with the other while apologizing to his wife that he can’t find the exotic spice she needs for her new recipe. He’s also promising to stick to her grocery list and not bring home any more kielbasa or potato chips and dip. The poor guy will have to return the kielbasa and dip and eat a whole bag of chips while driving home.

What happened to my friend Frank, a vice president of a prestigious newspaper, might be entitled “Stop the Meeting, I Have to Get Off”. Frank was presiding over a high level strategy session one afternoon when his secretary came in and said, “Your wife’s on line one.”

“Tell her I’ll call her back after the meeting,” Frank said, looking apologetically at the six execs sitting around the conference table.

“She said it’s an emergency,” the secretary replied, trying to keep her voice down below a shout.”

Frank picked up the phone and the six execs leaned toward him to get in on the excitement. It was a very important meeting but even those can get boring after 15 minutes.

“Frank, you have to come home right away!” his wife cried.

“What’s happening, Diane?” Frank asked, frantic with fear and the six execs leaned in further while exchanging worried glances.

“There’s a mouse in the laundry room! A BIG mouse!”

“Oh, a mouse,” Frank said, greatly relieved. “Just shut the door and I’ll take care of him when I get home.”

“Frank, you have to come home NOW!”

“Dear, I’ll be home in an hour. Can’t it wait? I’m at a very important meeting.”

“Come home now, Frank! I’m not going to sit here on this washing machine for an hour. What if he leaps up at me?”

“She’s calling from on top of the washing machine,” Frank told the execs and then added to the editorial chief who was taking notes, “This is off the record.”

They took a vote and it was unanimous. The execs were all married men and understood the situation. Frank left immediately. He’d suggested they reconvene in his laundry room later, but they voted that down. Being late for dinner would get them in trouble, wifewise.

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