Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
My husband recently spent a few days out of town (literally, he was in a forest). He camped in a remote area and experienced poor cell phone reception. I tried calling him, but he didn't answer, nor did he call me. For three days.
For some married couples this would mean little, but I am used to talking to my husband every day. It is customary for him to return my calls. After 20-plus years of marriage, I've come to count on him for little things like a hello. When he didn't reciprocate any communication for 72 hours, my mind began to spin.
A logical person might assume he'd lost cell phone service. A reasonable person would consider that his cell phone battery may be running low, or perhaps his wilderness activities kept him busy and he didn't have time to call. There were a number of logical and reasonable explanations for the situation.
I was not thinking of any of them.
My husband was incommunicado for three days. I started to imagine all the perils possible in his circumstance. A car crash. Lightening strike. I considered the likelihood that he'd lost his phone. Or, perhaps a wild grizzly bear stole it. I contemplated the possibility of his being kidnapped and held against his will. Maybe he was lying unconscious in the woods Ð under a downed tree. He might be injured and bleeding and unable to press the answer button on his phone. Perhaps he'd fallen and couldn't get up.
Finally, on the third day, my phone rang. It was him. His voice sounded chipper; not stressed. Healthy; not injured. Alive; not dead.
With a logical tone he told me his remote location prohibited him from dialing out or receiving incoming calls. I felt relieved, and a bit sheepish. I'd let my mind get away from me, thinking of all sorts of negative situations, while my husband hadn't given our inability to communicate a second thought.
It made me aware of our differences and the well-known phrase that begins with, "Men are from Mars." I do believe men might be from Mars, but if that is the case, then women are from the superstore.
Mars has sand and rocks.
The superstore has everything else: produce, clothing, pet food, school supplies, home furnishings, toiletries, car parts and a hardware section. I am often called upon to visit the superstore, retrieve multiple items and juggle them while walking toward the cash register. All the while, my husband is on Mars, with its sand and rocks, looking for a TV remote. (Never mind there are no TVs on Mars, my husband will find a way to get satellite service; just give him a cardboard box, a couple of paper clips and a roll of duct tape.)
The whole MarsÐsuperstore analogy gives us insight into the inner workings of our brains. Men and women are wired differently. We can't change this. It's our lot in life.
Someone told me men are able to focus their thoughts on one thing at a time. They do not get sidetracked by the periphery or distracting ideas about how the laundry needs folding, the dog could use a walk, the coffee is running low and we are down to our last roll of toilet paper.
I cannot imagine thinking of one thing at a time. It is beyond my comprehension, control and ability. My brain attempts to focus on at least 10 items at any given moment, which helps to explain why I visit the superstore and forget what I went there to purchase. I am fragmented.
My husband is not. He sits happily on Mars with his toes in the proverbial sand. When I don't return his phone call, he chooses one logical explanation, grabs the remote and takes a nap.
When I try to return his call, he is sleeping and doesn't answer; and my mind starts spinning, again.
Men are from Mars and I am not. Sometimes I wish I were. I'd like to go there some day, just to understand what it is like. After my visit, I'd invite my husband to come with me to the superstore, you know, so he could experience it for himself. Well that, and to give him a chance to practice his juggling.
Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page. E-mail her at
; or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.