ELGIN, IL—In a strongly worded statement Monday, area husband and hard-working father of four Lloyd Heberstrom made it perfectly clear that his wife is not to mess with the equalizer settings on their SonicCo wall-unit integrated-rack-system home stereo.

The Heberstrom family stereo. Inset: Marilyn Heberstrom, who should be well aware she is not to touch a thing.

"If I've told her once, I've told her a thousand times," said a visibly irritated Heberstrom, 44, a senior account manager in the distribution department at Ree-Nu Upholstery Wholesalers in nearby Plovis. "I have carefully calibrated the settings on the stereo to optimize the unique acoustics of the living and sitting-room area of the house, painstakingly adjusting it to the proper settings to maximize the bass response and minimize distortion in the mid-range. Yet every time she dusts the cabinets, it's the same thing: I come home and find the whole dang thing completely out of whack."

"I honestly don't understand why she can't get it through her thick head not to always be messing around with stuff she doesn't understand," Heberstrom said.

Heberstrom's wife, homemaker and macrame enthusiast Marilyn Heberstrom, 42, did not deny the stereo-touching charges, but did state that her violation of the longstanding house rule was unintentional.

"I think maybe when I was dusting around the—oh, what do you call it?—the little button things on the stereo's controls, I might have disturbed them a little," the embattled Marilyn told reporters. "I didn't mean to mess it all up. I won't do it again."

"I'm sorry, honey," she added.

According to Lloyd, however, the infraction is indicative of a much larger problem, one extending well beyond the stereo settings. Over the course of their 21-year-marriage, he said, the problem has come to include virtually every area of their split-level suburban home.

"Marilyn has been told over and over that she is not to touch anything in the garage," Lloyd said. But despite his repeated warnings, Lloyd said he was "shocked and dismayed" to come home from work recently to find cardboard boxes piled atop his riding mower's Comfort-Cushion(TM) gel-reinforced leather seat, putting it at severe risk of dust-accumulation and creasing. "The riding mower is a finely tuned instrument. It is not a toy," he said.

"All I was trying to do was to get at [son] Kyle's old high-school sweaters and sweatshirts," said Marilyn, attempting to explain the incident. "They were under the Christmas decorations, so I had to move some boxes out from on top of them. Mrs. Swanson said warm clothes were needed for the church charity drive, and Kyle doesn't fit into any of those old things anyway. I didn't think it would hurt the lawn mower any if I stacked the boxes there for just one second. I'm sorry."

"I ask you, do I go into the cupboards and rearrange the pots and pans? Do I move the laundry soap from its proper place, or mess with knitting supplies in the sewing room? I most certainly do not," Lloyd said. "Is it too much to ask, then, that the speed and whisker-length settings on my new Norelco razor be left alone? That my fishing lures be kept on the proper shelves and not tossed willy-nilly to make room for somebody's figure skates? To be able to sit in my recliner and find the remote because it hasn't been transferred from its proper place on the coffee table to a virtually untraceable spot on top of the piano by some meddling busybody woman?"

"God-dammit!" he added, storming off into the basement.

Though Lloyd's lawyer said he does not feel legal action against Marilyn is necessary at this time, he did stress that the Heberstrom household's well-established, long-standing wife-behavioral policies exist for a reason and must not be taken lightly.

"Lloyd and Marilyn are only one of millions of married couples born after World War II upon whom the gender-role social reforms of the late '60s and early '70s have had no impact, leaving the antiquated gender roles of the post-war era intact," said Lloyd's longtime attorney and golf partner Jim Hart. "These social mores, passed down from one generation of men to the next, dictate that husbands exercise tyrannical control over their home environment and spouses at all times. However dated this may seem, the self-esteem of millions of American males vitally depends upon strict female compliance with these rules, as their fragile sense of order and self-worth simply cannot survive without it."

Marilyn agreed. "Oh, men," she said with a shrug, bustling off to set the table for the 6,847th time.