Men Are Men, But It Doesn't Mean They're Assholes

In honor of International Women's Day, the United Nations held a luncheon for its "Women's Club," known in inner circles as the U.N. Wives Club. The New Yorker's Lizzie Widdicombe was on hand to overhear the multicultural ladies' gossip, and just like for the rest of us last week, discussion turned to Eliot Spitzer's wandering wang. How did it happen? The women in brightly hued saris and native headwraps wondered. "As the seventy-year-old wife of a Syrian ex-diplomat put it, wearily," Widdicombe observed, "'Men are men.'" And yes, men are men, but that's not to say that they're all cheating, lying, crap email writing, commitment-shy jerks. The tale of Charles Whiting will restore your faith in men, and maybe in love.

80-year-old widower Charles lives in my hometown of Irvington, New York. His wife Catherine died in 2005 from cancer and emphysema. He has been listening to her voice on their answering machine since she died. "The Whitings aren't home," Catherine's message says. I picture his wizened hands slowly dialing his own number, his mouth a grim, horizontal line as he listens to the last concrete piece of his wife on this earth. And guess what suckers? Verizon lost the recording when Charles had the service upgraded. After waiting on hold with Verizon for a couple hours, a customer service representative told Charles he "couldn't get the message back" and that "would just have to record a new one," according to NBC's New York affiliate.

But there's a happy ending. Today NBC reported that Verizon was able to reinstate Catherine's message. A kindly Verizon contractor found the old recording for Whiting. "I'm very happy," said Charles.

First Wives[New Yorker]
The Customer Is Very Nearly Always Totally Screwed [WNBC via Maggie Shnayerson]
Recording Of Dead Wife's Voice Recovered [WNBC]