I was walking through the marketing wing of the news and information complex located along the Boulevard of Broken Dreams in Winsted when I chanced to pass the lair of the Old Philosopher.
He was listening, as is his wont, to a ball game.
As I passed, he emerged from his haunt, and, addressing the inmate in the neighboring cell, noted that the implementation of instant replay has eliminated the arguments from Major League Baseball.
He wondered aloud, in that penetrating way of his, if instant replay might provide the same benefits to the institution of marriage, if it were available.
This idea led to a certain amount of speculation, as do many of the hypotheses I hear when I venture to that end of the building. Having given it some thought, I’m not sure it would work.
Instant replay in personal relationships might eliminate some arguments, but it could precipitate some new ones.
Marriage, and, for the sake of this discussion, we can include any long-term domestic arrangement involving men and women in this category, can be a complex relationship.
Men and women frequently fail to listen to one another. Even when they do, they speak different languages and may have a completely different understanding of the same sets of facts.
We may not have instant replay, but there has been a system of review in place for centuries.
Up to now, women have served as the official clerks of domestic entanglements. Any time there is a difference of opinion, a woman dutifully records the man’s crimes, alleged crimes, and insensitivities in her Big Book of Infractions. They all have one.
Later, if the man wants to know where he went wrong (and frequently when he doesn’t), the woman will review for him, in excruciating detail, the many ways in which he screwed up and failed to meet expectations. This may occur days, months, or even years after the alleged infraction took place. It is not quite the same as instant replay, but it does provide a permanent record of the relationship.
Critics might argue that this system is a trifle one-sided.
It is true the arrangement might be less than objective, but the system has been in place for a long time, and I’m not sure either side is ready for the cold precision of instant replay.
Suppose, for a moment, we were to install cameras in our kitchens, living rooms, and garages (for the sake of decorum, we will limit our discussion to these more public areas of the home).
Instant replay in these cases might very well prove, for example, that a man said he would fix the hinge on the laundry room door, but it wouldn’t be able to verify what he meant when he said that.
A woman, hearing that statement, might incorrectly assume the man intended to fix the door immediately.
What he probably meant, however, was that he would fix it at some point, when he happened to have his tools and any necessary spare parts handy, and when he had time. In other words, when he got around to it.
This is something many ladies fail to understand about home repairs. If a guy says he is going to fix something, he will. There is no need to nag him about it every six months.
Each of the above interpretations might seem perfectly clear to one of the participants in the discussion, but not to the other.
Similarly, if a happy couple agreed to leave for an engagement at 7 p.m., instant replay could confirm what the parties said, but not what they meant.
To the man, leaving at 7 p.m. might mean everyone would be A.I.S. (arse in seat) with safety belts buckled, the engine running, and the car in gear at 7 p.m.
The woman, on the other hand, may say she will be ready to go at 7 p.m., but she might interpret this to mean she should start getting ready at 7 p.m. This might include getting dressed, checking her makeup, and starting to look for her purse and other accessories.
Instant replay could verify the words, but not the meaning.
Instant replay works OK in the National Football League and Major League Baseball because the rules are established ahead of time, and are enforced by an independent authority.
In our personal relationships, the rule book is unpublished, and consequently, it is possible the interested parties may not be aware of all the rules. To further complicate things, the rules are subject to change without notice.
The Old Philosopher is right about instant replay in our personal relationships being an interesting idea, but unless it comes with a mechanism that will help men and women speak and understand the same language (and, what are the odds of that?), I just don’t see how it could eliminate all the arguments.