The Fiction of Owen Thomas

Dear Miss Tinkles

Dear Miss Tinkles

Old Fashioned Gal

Dear Miss Tinkles:

My husband and I – married now for fifty-two years – purchased each other new iPhones for Christmas. And we absolutely love them! My-oh-my technology these days! We have been using such basic cell-phones for so long we had no idea what we have been missing. Well, as wonderful as these new phones are, I’m sorry to say that this new technology has introduced a problem into our marriage and I am hoping you can help.

The problem concerns ringtones. My husband has a beautiful harp sound as his default ringtone. How lovely! I told him that I would like a harp sound on my phone too! But he refuses to allow this. He says that if we have identical ringtones we will not know whose phone is ringing and that it would only lead to confusion. I think this is silly, but I grew tired of arguing so I let the default ringtone issue go and suggested that we use the same custom ringtone for each other; that way when I call him he will know it is me calling and vise versa. I think it is romantic in a cute sort of way. He thinks it is a stupid idea. I picked out a fun dog whistle ringtone, but he says he refuses to be summoned in public like a dog. I told him he is over-reacting. Miss Tinkles, how can I convince my husband that this is a good idea and a great way to take advantage of this new technology? Sincerely, Just An Old Fashioned Gal.


Dear OFG:

Thank you for your letter. I’m sorry to say that your problem is not that uncommon.  The ability to synchronize ringtones causes all kinds of relationship issues. Men in particular tend to have problems with matching ringtones because it threatens their independence, which is inextricably bound up in the masculine identity. Imagine suggesting that you and your husband wear matching sweaters and hats when you go out on the town: how do you think that would go over? I think you see my point. But does that mean you should abandon all hope? Of course not!

The answer, as is so often the case with marital problems, is that you must be more assertive about pretending to compromise in order to get exactly what you wanted in the first place. Even if your husband will not accede to your very romantic suggestion – and really, what man would not wish to be summoned at a whim by means of a telephonic dog-whistle?—you must not give up. Technology offers an almost infinite number of solutions. Topping the list is the very simple solution of programing the dog-whistle ringtone into your husband’s phone each night when he is asleep.

Of course, he will try to delete the ringtone each day but it will magically be there again in the morning when you call to see what is taking him so long at the grocery store, or to remind him while he is golfing to pick up the dry cleaning on the way home. Since he does not really know what he is doing when it comes to programming an iPhone, your husband will far more easily conclude that the dog-whistle tone is permanent and simply cannot be deleted or reassigned, than that his wife is surreptitiously reprogramming his phone every night. Eventually he will give up the fight against technology and will grudgingly succumb to the electronic dog-whistle summons as an unavoidable consequence of growing old, being beaten down by life and flattened under the wheels of progress. Et voila! Romance!

You might feel that suggestion a tad deceptive. If so, technology offers some other options that you can propose directly without all of the subterfuge. In the ringtone department, consider the possibility that your husband is really just objecting to the idea of a “whistle.” Not everyone likes whistles. So explore some ringtone alternatives, like a woman’s voice that says sternly but lovingly “Come!” or “Heel!” or even an upbeat “Here boy!”

If those do not suit you or him, I would strongly suggest fitting your man with a Bluetooth Shock Collar. You will find this ingenious device very effective and silent. Once he stops wetting his pants (allow for a six to eight week training period), no one will know he is in pain. Who knows, after experimenting with any or all of these alternatives, you may just succeed in convincing him that the dog-whistle ringtone is not so bad after all!

Enjoy those phones!

Yours, Tink.


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