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The Right To
Remain Silent

by Stephen Lautens


May 26, 2000

Wouldn't it be great if there was a phone number you could call to keep you from doing stupid stuff?

For example, you're about to tell your wife that your best friend has a spare hockey ticket on your anniversary. Left on your own, you might be tempted to casually mention it. You know, send up a trial balloon, just to see how she might react.

After all, she's an understanding woman. She married you, didn't she? And your anniversary falls on a Wednesday, and you've already said you'd take her out on Saturday. Like the judge said, there's no harm in asking. Right?


You're sent to the video store with specific instructions to pick up "Titanic". Next to it on the shelf you see "Titanic 2: The Revenge" where Schwartzenegger travels back through time with a team of robots to blow up the iceberg. You convince yourself that she won't mind the switch, or that she'll believe you when you say all four thousand copies of Titanic were out.

Hasta la vista, baby.

Or you want to surprise her with a special weekend getaway. You looked through all the brochures. You thought about those places that feed you fancy foods or have 24-hour massages, but she hates to be fussed over. So you decide a fishing trip is just what she needs. Just you, her, and a twenty pound muskie. You can bet the only thing in the bottom of the boat gasping for air will be you.

And who could blame her?

On the other hand, who can blame us? Men just aren't smart enough to recognize a really bad idea. Especially if it involves us choosing between the right thing in a relationship and what we really want.

Wouldn't it be great if you could call someone who could head you off before you do or say something stupid? What we men need is a 24-hour help line, like 1-800-BAD-IDEA. It could be staffed by extremely patient women who can talk us through these make or break relationship decisions.

Consider it a "Relationship 911" call.

Would men pay for this service? Just think about how cold the garage can get in December. Or how camping out under the stars can be fun, but a sleeping bag in the back yard loses a lot of its charm after the first two weeks.

If there was such a service, a man could call up and say: "She told me that she didn't want me making a big thing about her birthday." And before any restraining orders are necessary, he could be gently guided away from disaster.

There are those questions that simply have no right answer. The trick is to be able to identify them before you open your mouth.

Like: "If you never met me, which of your old girlfriends would you have married?" The correct answer is: "If I hadn't met you, I would never have married. I probably would have ended up a hermit or monk."

There's the ever-popular, "Does this make me look fat?" question. A quick call could keep you from blurting out: "The dress looks fine - it's your butt that looks big."

Trained relationship counsellors would tell you the only correct answer is: "How could it possibly make anyone as skinny as you look fat?"

Remember before you say anything, you have the right to one phone call.


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