Szyperski: Manhood 3.0Written by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Although I believe that all men and women are created equal, I also believe that each gender gravitates toward certain roles in life. There are always exceptions to the rules, but women tend to establish themselves in one way and men in another. These roles no doubt vary and change over time, yet we still seem to divvy up daily tasks somehow in order to spread out the work and make the world go round.
We have come a long way from the days of men as hunters and women as gatherers. We have even come a long way from men as the sole and/or assumed head of household, yet our masculine halves continue to do their best to assure they still hold a place of significance in the hearts, minds and everyday needs of their partners and their children. As men leave behind their exclusive rights to the duties of meat fetching and bread winning, I can’t help but notice they have cornered another responsibility market in a brilliant and post-modern way — as their families’ cellular service account owners.
The realization struck me as I recently paused with great admiration for the man half responsible for giving me life and raising me well. After 37 years of making sure I was happy and taken care of in every way imaginable, he now stood firmly by my side for the embarking of yet another grand adventure in my life. After a week of working 12-hour days and through the weekend, he was still willing to delay the hot meal, loving wife and warm recliner awaiting him at home to first meet me at a big, cold, fluorescently lit box store in order to give me his account owner permission to upgrade to my first smart phone.
As we awaited my big leap into mobile Internet access, it occurred to me that it’s not just my dad who has insured job security through the head of household position’s successor, head of household Technology. I stood even taller next to my family’s patriarch as I watched others one by one drop their shoulders and wander away at the cellular gatekeeper’s inevitable and all-important question, “Is the account owner with you?” No? Poor, lost, iPhoneless-for-another-day souls.
Yes, I am closing in on 40 and still need my dad to authorize my choice of wireless plan due to corporate account restrictions. Still, for all of the ways we have fallen out of family togetherness in this country, one opportunity for closeness remains tried and true: discounts on cellular phone service. I know that my family is not alone in the technological ties that bind. In fact, calls from many of my otherwise-grown-up friends come across the caller ID with a somewhat familiar maiden name preceded by a father’s name I have heard only once or twice in passing.
Inquiring about why one of my 20- or 30- or even 40-something female friends have a phone that identifies itself by a vaguely familiar male moniker almost always results in a response of, “Oh, I’m on my parents’ plan.” Say no more, I completely understand. Long live add-a-line.
Meanwhile, back at the new daddy-daughter dance known as the cell phone counter, I noticed a man close to my dad’s age and demeanor. As he asked the cellular gatekeeper about his own upgrade options, the inescapable “Are you the account owner?” question quickly arose once again. I just may have seen the man rip off his shirt, puff out his chest, wipe war paint under his eyes and ever so boldly declare, “Yes, I am.” Forget CEOs, governors, senators and union heads, cellular account owners are the new power brokers, the new tribal chiefs.
As dads everywhere reaffirm their patriarchy via cell phone account consent, I can’t help but wonder if establishing your own family cell phone plan will become more one’s true rite of passage into adulthood than actually starting a family. For me, just having an opportunity to enjoy and share a big event with my dad is worth feeling like a 5-year-old for a couple of hours. Sometimes taking a step back in a relationship is actually a wonderful thing.
Of course, the only thing better than feeling like daddy’s little girl is feeling like dad trusts you with the keys to the car. As I relished in our magical night of cellular customer service, a representative informed me that my dad was ready to hand me the keys in the form of bumping me up to “account manager” status. Awww, he loves me. He really, really loves me.
Shannon Szyperski and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.
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