Advice on Gadget Fixated Men
Looking back to when I was still a single woman, I'm often amazed at how completely independent and competent I used to be. My VCR was programmed, I was capable of changing the oil in my own car and once, I even managed to fix a broken toilet. I must have been daydreaming during the part of the vows. How else can I explain missing the one that went "..to love, honor and relinquish all rights to any electrical or non-electrical devices of a gadget nature for as long as you live?" The moment I said "I do"...I became a functional moron in my husband's eyes.
To be fair, like a lot of women, I am fairly relieved to hand over the responsibility of assembling and maintaining most items of a mechanical nature. This is not to say that I can't do it if I have to...it just means that rather than cause a scene over a distasteful chore, I simply prefer to perpetuate the myth of feminine helplessness. For those women that were raised to take care of themselves, or behaved in a rather tomboyish fashion, this can be rather irritating.
In order to assist my independent sisters, I've assembled the following list of simple Do's and Don'ts.
- Do - remember that not only is it the genetic predisposition for the male of the species to play with gadgets, it is also a first amendment right. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly...or disassembly...with or without use of the recommended manual. My husband asserts his first amendment rights often by declaring the general area of assembly as a "No Wife Zone." Whenever a new acquisition enters the house and must be assembled, I am exiled to another room where I cannot observe, touch the power tools or read the directions to him out loud.
- Do - remove temptation if at all possible. Understand that if you are driving anything that can be tricked out or turned into a man toy...you will be safer selling it and buying something that is not even remotely appealing. Faced with the prospect of my jeep wrangler being turned into a monster off-road machine, I traded it in for a nice little Mazda Miata, which was too sissy for him to touch.
- Don't - be surprised when a simple purchase becomes an excuse to acquire an entire "system." Case in point: After suggesting that perhaps we should get a new television for our bedroom, I should not have been surprised when a 42" television suddenly appeared...which then led to the acquisition of a state of the art surround sound system...and then the Logitech Harmony I remote control. My husband no longer wishes to watch television in the living room because the remote just isn't as cool as this one and the picture and sound are not up to his new standards.
- Do - learn to recognize key phrases and respond accordingly. Men have a primitive need to extol the virtues of their acquisitions and occasionally they will not be able to pound their chests and engage in a case of one-upmanship with their own kind. In order to fulfill this need, you will be called upon to reaffirm their manly dominance and technological prowess. It is not important that you pay attention to what is usually a long-winded and boring dissertation as long as you catch the key phrase that invites your participation. It could be a simple, "Don't you think so?" or "Know what I mean?" Upon hearing this key phrase, you must simply maintain a look of avid interest and say, "Yup!" before returning to your catatonic stupor. By all means, and I say this from experience, do NOT reply "Do you think the cat has an eye infection?" This is a dead giveaway that you have not been paying attention.
- Do - try to find a hotel that is "man-friendly" when on vacation. An example of a man-friendly hotel would be one that has at least 20-30 wall switches, an appliance with easily accessible controls and about four remote control devices. When forced to endure a room that has not taken into consideration the male's need to tinker, your man could exhibit some rather disturbing behavior. Case in point. At a recent hotel, the desk clerk assured us that if we picked up the phone in our room, they would be there to assist us with our every need. Upon noticing my husband sitting on the bed and balefully glaring at the phone, I asked him what was wrong.
Husband (sadly): I just want to...look at it. It's an antique and...(blah, blah, blah, blah)...don't you think so?"
Husband: ...but I don't want to talk to the front desk.
He then proceeded to pick up the entire phone and slam it back down on the table just so he could hear it ring. On the third slam...it didn't ring anymore and ceased to be interesting.
- Do -put your foot down when it comes to the federal mail. But do it gently. Understand that a sealed box, even if their name isn't on it, is too great a temptation to the average male. In their minds, it could be something that you need put together and they've convinced themselves that you'll be thrilled to death when you come home and they've completed the jigsaw puzzle you were planning on giving to your mother for her birthday. The easiest way to circumvent this behavior is by telling them that it could have been a surprise gift for them and it would really hurt your feelings if they opened it while you weren't there to see the joy on their face.
- Do - take your boxes to another room before opening them. Watching a grown man trying NOT to help put something together is like watching a heroin addict in the throes of withdrawal. It doesn't matter what it is. To you it's an automatic cat box cleaner or perhaps, as it was with me, a hoop skirt for my Renaissance Fair costume. Watching your husband squirm in agony while you read the directions is tantamount to spousal abuse, in his opinion. So either remove it from their presence or better yet, smile sweetly and give them that "oh honey, this is all gibberish to me" look...and let them have their fun.
- Do - remember that eventually they will grow tired of even the most sophisticated gadget and you will be allowed your turn to actually use it. This does not, however, exempt you from receiving excruciating instructions on exactly how to operate the gadget that they have mastered. Even if it is a light switch, an object that you have dealt with on your own for many years, they will know a better way to operate it. Even if it is the same way you've always operated a light switch, they will honestly believe that you aren't that bright and must be told how to flip it for maximum result and with minimum effort. Use of sarcasm, while permissible, has not been shown to have any deterrent effect.
These are but a few helpful hints. I'd write more, but I'm being called away from my computer to "look at something cool!"