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A Compromise Phone:
The Secret to a Happy Marriage

by Wayne Scheer

“Can I see your cell phone, grandpa​?” my fourteen-year-old granddaughter asks as we pull onto the driveway of my house.

“Sure, but why?”

“My sister told me about it,” she said. Her sister is seventeen, the oldest of my five grand kids “Is it really a flip-top?”

“Yes, it is,” I say proudly, knowing she's having fun with me. “The screen doesn't break if I drop it. How many phones have and your sister had to replace?”

She ignores my question as I hand her the phone.

“Wow. We learned about this in history class.” She examines it like an archeologist studying a fossil. “It's not even connected to the internet.”

“No, it's not a computer. It's a telephone.”

“What do you do with it? You can't even text.

“I use it for phone calls.”

“What's a phone call, grandpa?”

I take the phone from her and put it back in the glove compartment. “Go inside. At least your grandmother loves you.”

She sticks out her tongue and we both laugh.

I call my flip-top a compromise phone. My wife made me get it. I keep it in my 1995 Mazda Protege because she's afraid the car will break down on a deserted road at three in the morning during a snow storm, and I'll be stranded.

I explain that my lifestyle is such that it's highly unlikely I'll ever be in my car, alone, at that time on a deserted road during a snow storm. Especially since we live in Atlanta.

“That's not the point,” she says.

I thought it was, but that's no matter. A happy marriage is based on compromise, so I do what she says.

But I don't give out the number and I keep it turned off. That way I don't get a call when I'm driving.

Safety first.

And I don't get a call when I'm not driving.

Freedom first.

But I keep it charged, as per wifely instructions, in case I need it.

My life is dull. I haven't had an emergency in the five years I've owned the phone, so I haven't used it.

Not true.

I used it once. I was doing something while my wife shopped. She directed me to take the cell and call her if I finished early. She even offered me a tutorial on how to use the phone, which I will never admit to her I found helpful.

At any rate, I, in fact, finished early, and I called her.

I could have found a quiet coffeehouse and read a book and called her from the store's courtesy phone, but I used my cell like a good boy and let her brag on the convenience of a cell phone

“Now aren't you happy you have one?”

“Yes, dear,” I said. Did I mention the secret to a happy marriage?

So I'm the proud owner of a compromise phone. For a small monthly fee, it makes my wife feel safer and allows the grand kids some fun at my expense.

But as I watch the fourteen-year-old conspire with my wife, I suspect she turned the phone on when she was playing with it. I hope I remember how to turn the damn thing off.

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