I decided to reward myself with a special treat, mostly because I’m a really cool guy and sometimes people don’t recognize that as much as they should. So, I bought a set of speakers for the home entertainment system that I thought would give me that quality sound that all home theaters need. I did a lot of research, evaluating precisely which system would give me that great rumble when I watch the Death Star blow up for the thirty sixth time and which would let me hear the lost wail as Christopher Lee is destroyed yet again in that Hammer House of Horror Film. (Don’t bother trying to figure out which one I’m talking about because they’re all the same).

I settled on the Polk A9s with the A6 center speaker, a decision I was quite proud of and wanted to brag about, until my wife, without the slightest hesitation asked, “Why do we need so many speakers?”

I’m sure you guys have been there. You’ve made the ultimate purchase, an electronic gadget powered by its own plutonium core with the computing power of several European nations, and your significant other asks what’s wrong with just using a calculator or a flashlight.

The question hung in the air before me, like the body of a bank robber who had just been strung up by the sheriff who rightly suspects that you were the thief’s accomplice. I had the feeling that the vultures would be circling any moment and in truth, they probably were.

“Why do we need so many speakers?”

When I was in my 20s, this sort of challenge would have really knocked me out of my game but I’m older now and a lot more seasoned. Over the years, I’ve gained experience in the continuing struggle between men and women who love each other.

Confidently, I tossed my hair to the side, in that knowing sort of way, just to set the mood. I stared her right in the eye and replied, “Why DON’T we need that many speakers?”

Pretty clever, huh? It’s the kind of answer that puts the whole burden back on her. Admittedly, the tossing the hair would have worked a lot better if I didn’t still have a military haircut but I’m sure she caught the coolness of it, even if there wasn’t any actual hair swirling in the wind.

She gave me that almost but not quite understanding smile and kissed me, saying “If that’s what you want, then OK, you can have them.”

Notice the fine but potentially lethal verbal combat at play here. With a slight shift in the dynamics, I’ve now been maneuvered into a position in which I’m thankful that my woman is letting me spend my own money on an item that I’ve already bought. Women are really, really good at this. In this case, she’s got me on the defensive and she hasn’t given up anything. Somehow, I’m thankful because she’s now doing me a favor by not totally disapproving of the purchase. It’s really a remarkable talent when you think about it. I wish men were good at stuff like this but everytime we make such an attempt, we come across as whiny and pathetic.

Trust me guys, you’ll never beat a woman in this sort of contest. They’re operating on some sort of cosmic cycle they’ve perfected over the last 200,000 years. On the same evolutionary scale, we’re still trying to figure out if we should continue gnawing on bones or throw them to the dogs.

 

 

Yet, caveman instincts aside, I really wanted to brag about the fantastically awesome speakers that now stood in my living room. Instead, I just stood there, deflated and sad.

I couldn’t figure out why any woman wouldn’t just love to have a 15 speaker frontal sound system in the house. I didn’t even get to the part about how the surrounds could add another 4-8 speakers, not to include the subwoofer and then maybe another set in the ceiling just in case we watched a movie that included a voice from God. I considered breaking out the technical info which detailed the advantages of amps and enhanced mid-range frequencies smartly spread over multiple angles and the way that such refined acoustics might solve Global Warming, end the Israeli-Pealestinian conflict, and help Barrack Obama find his real birth certificate, but instead, I simply downshifted into true guy mode.

For the women reading this, trust me, when I tell you that every time a guy is stuck and uncertain as to what he should do, he shifts into guy mode. To my knowledge, its never once worked in the entire history of mankind but everytime we get stuck, we do it, thinking that somehow, this time, we’re going to break the pattern. Thus, re-enforced by a gambit of false hopes, I stood proudly before her. I thrust out my chest and pronounced “Well, I don’t get why you like Love Shack.”

I knew it was a weak play because if we started competing on thrusting our chests forward, she would win this contest as well.

I was lucky. She didn’t use her nipples as weapons. Instead, she tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with Love Shack?”

Hah! Score!!!

 

If you’ve never heard the song Love Shack by the B-52s, you were probably raised in a stone hut in Tibet but on that very rare chance, and to ensure that I don’t offend any Tibetians who may now have electricity and the Internet, it’s an old rock song that every woman in the world loves and every guy regards as slightly better than having 50 nails driven into his scrotum. It has a chorus that repeatedly screeches “Bang, bang, on the door baby” which implies that if dudes would just go with it, everyone could get laid this weekend as long as you don’t spend too much time thinking about the relationship between Chryslers and whales. It’s a great idea but after two minutes of hearing Love Shack, any normal guy doesn’t much care if he gets laid in the next three to six months. He just wants the madness to stop.

Plus, the blonde, who at the time the music video was made seems like someone you would definitely sleep with if she’d just shut her damn mouth, stops the song halfway through to say “Hen Row” or “Hey Low” or “Hi Go” or something unintelligible before, — irony of ironies, — she shouts my name, “Russ!!!”

That used to confuse me but I’ve since figured out that any normal song would only be irritating but Love Shack takes its annoyance to a level that has supernatural dimensions. Thus, I’ve decided the B-52s obtained their career success by selling their souls to the Devil. This not only allowed Love Shack to be a timeless hit but it also gave the song an unnatural aura in which every guy who hears it thinks his name is being called. Admittedly, “Hen Row, Bob” doesn’t make any more sense than “Hen Row, Russ”, but I leave this for someone else to figure out since I’m not the one who has been negotiating contracts with Satan.

Women love it.

Bang, bang, on the door, baby!

Understandably, the Love Shack gambit only gained me about 90 seconds of reprieve. My wife pressed her attack by asking “What are you going to watch that you need 15 speakers?

“Whatever I want”.

Her eyebrows narrowed just a bit. “Like what?”

Looking back on it, I’m pretty sure there was a certain point where the captain of the Titanic scratched his head and said “Guys, I don’t think this is a little leak”. To my knowledge, there are no photographs of him as he realized that his ship was going to sink into the freezing ocean and lots of people he was responsible for were about to die, but if there were, I’ve no doubt he had a look on his face that exactly duplicated mine.

I had to think fast. What was I going to watch on an HDTV with a terrific sound system. It took a moment but the right response came to me.

“Gilligan’s Island”

 

It seemed like a pretty safe answer. After all, who didn’t like Gilligan’s Island? Certainly, with an uber-cool speaker system, we would be able to hear the natives on neighboring islands beating their drums and the soft echoes of coconuts falling from the trees in the jungle. With a little imagination, we might even be able to smell the pleasantness of a cooling cocoanut creme pie.

Yet, as soon as I said it, she didn’t seem focused on the pleasant sounds that 18Hz-24,000 Hz could bring out of the island’s lagoon. Instead, she glared at me. She didn’t speak, she just looked me over, starting with my worn-out sneakers and working her way up to the top of my head which, at this moment, I was fully aware, didn’t have any hair worth flipping back in a cool way.

Despite her long-standing wishes, I’m not psychic, but it was clear she was debating whether or not she really wanted to be stuck with a guy like me for the rest of her life. Apparently, I just barely passed the test. Of course, since I’m a guy, just barely passing this test is the same as maxing it out. An inch over the wall is as good as gaining a bird’s eye view. Its all the same. Once you’ve cleared the hurdle, there’s no reason to look back.

She thought about it and opted to help me from my predicament by finding some common ground. She suggested that perhaps she and I could watch Desperate Housewives together.

Seriously, has any guy ever willingly said “Yes” to something like this?

Truth be told, I didn’t have any clue what Desperate Housewives was about. From the name, I wrongly suspected it was some sort of porn series and for a moment, her response sounded like a Hell of a good idea. Then I realized that I’m not lucky enough for her to want to test the speakers with a nightly romp to the sound of hi-fidelity porn. She was pushing for us to cuddle and watch a chick series.

Ever since we first got together, I’ve maintained a policy that I only watch one chick flick a year. She gets to pick it and I sit next to her and pretend that I’m not imagining myself diving off the coast of Cuba. I suspect that most women will scowl at this but I’m confident that someday, some guy is going to go there and find the Lost Continent of Atlantis and I’d bet serious money that when he does, he admits he came up with the plan while pretending to watch a chick flick. I don’t think that guy is going to be named Russell Sanders but I am smart enough to know that evading a show like Desperate Housewives requires desperate measures and a very clever response.

“I don’t want to watch Desperate Housewives”.

It wasn’t clever but at least it was to the point.

We eventually settled on watching “Enchanted”, which admittedly is one of my closet favorites. I’m not sure what part of me is enthusiastic about a story of a cartoon peasant becoming a real-life princess in New York City but I’m fairly certain its not so overwhelming as to threaten my masculinity. I like the film and was happy enough to have the full spectrum of Amy Adam’s voice flooding our living room. Despite her previous reservations, my wife’s eyes lit up and she curled up against me, immersed in the glory of Japanese technology.

I was proud. I managed to win the dispute and convinced my wife that the speakers were a good purchase. Plus, I also skated out of watching Desperate Housewives. All in all, I considered it a great success that might last ever and ever after.

 

 

It was only much later that I realized what had really happened.

I purchased a great set of speakers, specially tailored to bring the full roars and rumbles of every guy film ever made and instead, it all went to enhancing a world of talking animals, pixie dust, and speculation as to who had the prettiest dress at the ball. The worst part was that she’d somehow made me think that I was the one getting over on her.

Like I said guys, we could never pull something like this off but I sure as Hell wish we could.

Tags: , ,