Aunt Ruth Is Dead

I used to wonder why when I left a message with a man, for someone else, that it never got delivered. I’ve had my suspicions, but now I know.

It was on the Today Show, so it has to be true–and today what was on confirms the validity of a long held theory of mine. There was an interview with a woman physician who has written a book on the subject of men’s memories, more precisely, the lack thereof, especially when words are involved. This explains to me why men don’t take or deliver messages. They are genetically indisposed. Just what I’ve always thought.

From experience I have speculated that men–as opposed to women–should never be counted on to relay messages. This speculation has been nurtured over the years when in trying to contact a friend of the married female sort, I have by chance happened on her husband. Usually this occurs over the phone. Happening on the husband has most often proved to be an unfortunate turn of events, or just a plain waste of time, considering that the call’s purpose was to get some information to my friend.

Upon hearing the husband of a friend answer the phone, I used to be tempted to just hang up–or feign a wrong number and then hang up, knowing my message, if left with him, would probably never get through. But now we have Caller ID, and so hanging up anonymously doesn’t work. Now I talk to the husband of my friend, but if I actually “leave a message” for his wife, more often than not, the message is never received because it is never delivered. This can be a huge inconvenience, as you might imagine. Missed connections, missed chances, misunderstandings, and mistaken meanings–all because the man did not deliver.

Every now and again, one stumbles upon a man who makes a delivery attempt, but usually late and most always inaccurate. I spoke with a man–the husband of a friend–last week, and when he asked about how things were with me, I gave him a brief run-down of the most recent happenings having to do with my involvement in my elderly mother’s long term care. The facts were plain and simple. I told him I might have to go to personally oversee the next steps sometime in the next few weeks.

My friend called the next day and left me a voice mail message (a more reliable way to go unless the man of the house picks up the messages first). Apparently late that night of the day I had talked to her husband, he did in fact remember to tell her he had talked with me. The message he delivered was that my mother had broken her leg and I had left to go to where she is, 900 miles away. What? Where in the world did that come from? Were alien beings having a party in his brain? But, I am forgetting what I was dealing with here–at least the man actually delivered a message–never mind that it had nothing to do with what I had told him.

I should have learned this lesson way back when I was in college and in a sorority. In a middle-of-the-night effort to get back at some fraternity guys’ idea of a prank (they had stolen the clock from the sorority house’s entryway), several of us made a 3:00 a.m. call to the one guy we considered the ringleader. When we managed to get him on the phone, he obviously had been woken from the deep sleep we’d hoped he’d been in. Our question for him was simply “Could you tell us what time it is, someone has stolen our clock.” (I said we were in college.)

The next morning reports flying around were that we–the correctly identified sorority–had called this guy to tell him, “Your Aunt Ruth is dead.” Right then and there I should have known forevermore not to trust a man to ever hear–or then deliver–an accurate rendition of any phone message.

So now, thanks to the Today Show, I know for certain that the problem is not imagined and it is universal. And now it turns out that it is in fact a genetic indisposition, if not a total lack of the message gene itself. I knew there had to be a logical explanation.

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