That with it being the Christmas season and all, I felt it my duty to come up with a catalog of gift ideas for the Woman Who Has Everything.
No, I am not talking about the woman who already has a pasta attachment for her Cuisinart, and the complete works of Neiman-Marcus. I am talking about the Woman Who Has Everything, the Woman Who Has It All, in 1982 terms. She is proud owner of a home, job, children, as Zorba the Greek said, "the whole catastrophe."
To this end, I interviewed an assortment of WWHEs around my turf. What they do not want for Christmas is a bottle of stress vitamins or a ticket to a seminar on how to manage time (they don't have the time to go). Nor do they want a book about women who juggle their lives skillfully without dropping the guilt ball on their foot.
What I discovered is herewith presented as consensus on the dozen most popular items. This tentative gift list should come in particularly handy for employers, families, communities and Friends of the WWHE.
(1) A Wife. A perennial favorite among both single and two-parent families, the full-time "wife" heads the list again this year. While one woman qualified her response by requesting one of the "contented" variety, another confessed that she would settle for a "Stepford" model.
(2) Mary Poppins. Full-time wives being in short supply, several members of the survey dropped back immediately to request the world's most famous child-care server, preferably at her original wage.
(3)4 A parent-sensitive school system. This particular school system (models are available in our catalog) has hours that more or less coincide with the working day, parent-teacher conferences that may be scheduled before or after work, and a school policy that announces "no school" days only in case of an imminent tidal wave.
(4)4 A professional "neighbor." This creature will be happy to hang around for the people who repair and deliver the essentials of our life. Especially those who guarantee to show up "sometime." We chose this gift item because of all those wonderful folk who ask us: "Can't we leave it (a key, pet canary, refrigerator) with your neighbor?"
(5) A service industry. In lieu of a "neighbor," we would be willing to accept a service industry that picks up, delivers and repairs, not according to its truck route, but according to our hours.
(6) A four-day work week with a five-day paycheck and benefits. (What's a Santa Claus for?)
(7) Meals on Wheels. This service would arrive with varied nutritious items, not to mention napkins, for our evening dining pleasure. It would return in the morning for the dishes.
(8) A telephone arbitrator. A novelty item on this list. We have chosen a paralegal service to arbitrate the after-school disputes of children at home. The ones who otherwise call the office. The arbitrator would be available through an 800 number and could also operate as a message center.
(9) Child sick days. Most WWHEs in our survey admitted that they go to work when they are sick in order to stay home when their children are sick. Oup catalog-selection committee therefore chose a Scandinavian import: a certified number of sick days to be legally used either for parents or kids.
(10) A convenience store. Most stores currently open for our "convenience" allow the WWHE to run out at 11:30 at night for milk. With the aid of a catalog and a telephone, the true convenience store will deliver anything from towels to typewriter ribbons.
(11) A three-act lunch. Our gift parade would never be complete without a pitch for a boss who was as tolerant of time off for school plays as for business lunches.
(12) An Un-Helpful Husband. While in Christmases past the helpful husband was an extremely popular number, this year most of the WWHEs surveyed wanted one of those handy new models on the market: a Sharing Husband, or, better yet, a Working Father.
So much for the list. Needless to say, some of these gifts would be equally popular with women who work at home and Men Who Have Everything. I should also mention other suggestions: a doctor who keeps to his appointment schedule, a machine that washes, dries, and sorts socks while it vacuums -- that sort of thing. But one mustn't be greedy.
Indeed, if all else fails, the Woman Who Has Everything will settle for one simple present: a 28-hour day. After all, it's Christmas.