Posted by: lrrp | November 9, 2004

How Wireless (Nearly) Wrecked My Marriage by Joshua Macht

Guys come in many flavors–geeks, car freaks, metrosexuals, musclemen. Me, I’m a wi-fi guy. I was so looking forward to getting a wireless network in my home that the day I installed it, I was as giddy as Bill Clinton at a pajama party. No more wires! No more hassle! No more skulking off to the computer room to do my business! Now my wife and I could work, pay bills or check our e-mail from just about any corner of the house: kitchen, living room, porch. And since we have two small children, a mortgage and precious few spare moments together, the wireless network was just the productivity tool we needed to carve out a bit more quality family time. Or so I thought.

Morning came on the first day of my new wireless life, and I couldn’t wait to get started. No more walking barefoot to the edge of the driveway to fetch a rain-soaked newspaper–and getting an acorn or two wedged between my toes. Instead I jumped onto the Web, touched base with time.com, scanned a few hot blogs, checked out the competition and clicked to espn.com for box scores. All without missing a beat or a drop of breakfast cereal. What I did miss, however, was the screaming of an infant in her high chair and the smoke of a small fire in the toaster.

That’s the moment my wife chose to make her appearance. “What were you doing,” she asked, not unreasonably, “that you didn’t smell toast burning or hear a baby crying?”

By the time I formulated a face-saving reply, my wife had moved down the hall to prep the little one for the day. Figuring I would do my share to ease the morning routine, I took our son, 3, for a spin online. He’s a train fanatic, so we headed to www.thomasthetankengine.com to play games, solve puzzles and–whoops!–spill apple juice all over my wife’s pristine white laptop. Springing into action, I sopped up the mess before she saw it. Disaster averted.

The rest of the morning went relatively smoothly. I downloaded a song or two from the Apple Music Store, burned a CD and in a matter of minutes was pumping Lou Reed through the sound system in our playroom. When lunch rolled around, I volunteered to make Monte Cristo sandwiches–first paying a quick visit to google.com to search for a recipe. The sandwich turned out to be your basic French toast with some turkey, ham and cheese. It would have been no trouble at all if it hadn’t been for the splatter from the frying egg–drenched toast that laid a coating of grease on my wife’s clean white laptop. This time she was on the scene and watched it happen. I’m Jewish, and the disapproving-mother bit hits hard. Good thing she hadn’t been there for the apple juice.

Something clearly had to give. The wireless network that was making it so much easier for me to be online was also making it harder for me to pay attention to my family. I was starting to exhibit the classic signs of addiction–and, true to form, I was the last to know.

That night we were in bed–just me, my wife and the iBook. I needed one more fix, a peek at espn.com to get an update on the Red Sox game. My wife, on the other hand, needed to talk. I thought I could do both–listen attentively to the ups and downs of her day and keep track of the action in Fenway Park. Then an instant message appeared on my screen.

“Have you heard a word I’ve said?” Uh-oh. This wasn’t coming from a colleague at work.

“Um, I think I have,” I typed in response. “You asked me where we should spend Thanksgiving.” My mind was racing. When did she leave the room?

“Good. Something does get through,” she replied.

“Well, yes, I heard, and I think we should go away for the holiday.”

“Fine. But disconnect this wireless network, or you’ll go away alone.”

“Of course. 4 ever yours.”

“Luv u 2.”

“Goodnite.”

“Goodnite.”

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