Humor by Greg Schwem

A time-honored tradition in the Schwem household involves gathering around the television during the closing minutes of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and waving to Santa as he enters Herald Square. Normally this joyous event occurs at approximately noon Chicago time.

This year Santa arrived at 12:38 p.m.

No, this was not due to an oversight by parade organizers. After 85 years of lining up participants, a task that, judging by the parade's length, begins somewhere in Ohio, I'm certain nobody has ever said, "Where's the red-suited guy with the beard?" Mark my words, Santa's whereabouts are ALWAYS known. The folks at Macy's would rather lose an entire high school marching band than have to explain how Santa missed his cue.

Kriss Kringle's delay was entirely the fault of my TV remote, specifically the "pause" feature. As a man living in a house with three women, I have a small request for television manufacturers, cable companies, set top box makers and whomever else is responsible for temporarily suspending the present with the click of a button:


Don't you see what you are doing? The pause button simply gives women a tool to keep men waiting. This is precisely what happened on Thanksgiving Day. Our plan, agreed to by all four family members the night before, was to wave to Santa at noon, load up the car and be on the road shortly thereafter.

"Let's shoot for 12:30," my wife said.

At 11:54 a.m. I was fully dressed and perched in front of the TV, watching the last of the inflatable balloons hover over 34th Street. Also at 11:54 a.m., a half-baked pie was in the oven, one daughter was frantically looking for a shoe, the other's whereabouts were unknown and I heard a shower running in the distance.

"Santa's just about here," I called upstairs.

"PAUSE IT!" yelled three voices in unison.

Outnumbered as always, I gave in to technology and bought my wife and daughters as much time as they darn well pleased. Much like a turkey, I was left to stew, alone, in my own juices. Eventually all three sauntered downstairs in Thanksgiving attire, oblivious to the fact that our departure time had come and gone.

"Ready," one daughter said.

"Santa's probably back at the North Pole by now," I replied testily.

My younger daughter, 9 years old and still a "believer," picked up the remote and hit the hated pause button.

"He's right there, Dad," she gestured at the TV. "Hi, Santa!"

"Hope he brings you everything you want this year," my wife chimed in.

"How about a clock for starters," I mumbled.

"Hush, Scrooge," came the reply.

My greatest fear is that pausing live television is only the beginning. In a few years, it's entirely possible that a cinema full of men will be staring at frozen images of actors on screen while a lone woman remains at home, changing outfits. What about theater? Ladies, just contact a female usher during that Broadway production and ask her to aim her remote at Nathan Lane and hit "pause." That will give you time to adjust your makeup.

Girls, when you attend a live sporting event, ever notice that men only visit restrooms during halftime and timeouts? That's because we know there is no pause button. We have been trained to live in the present, as opposed to altering the present to suit our needs. Please, please, can't you see our ways and at least TRY to be ready on time?

Alas, I'm afraid my request will fall on deaf ears. The pause feature is as commonplace on televisions these days as the on/off button. Television manufacturers have moved on to even cooler features including surround sound and 3-D capability. I'll take odds that, in a few years, one press of a button will cause the entire cast of "Modern Family" to leap from the TV and finish the episode live in my living room.

Of course, I will be the only family member watching. The rest will be upstairs, looking for shoes and yelling, "Pause it, pause it!"

Humorist Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad

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