Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm Even Losing the Battle of the TV

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on May 4, 2012

In a few weeks I will have been married to my lovely wife for 35 years. That’s a long time, and has required a great deal of acceptance and patience. Okay, maybe a tad more on her part than mine, but let’s not split hairs here. I don’t have many left.

Most victories I have achieved over that period (there are relatively few) were because she either strategically allowed me to win in order to gain some other advantage, or just didn’t care enough about the particular matter to make it an issue. But one area where I have historically exerted my undeniable dominance is television. When it comes to TV, I am the one in control.

Or at least I was. But things have changed a bit. While my beloved bride continues to maintain she could live without television, her actions say otherwise. She has started to assert herself in this area, and I have unwittingly aided and abetted her efforts through my devious attempts to disguise selfishness as generosity.

A few years back we bought a television for our bedroom. The set it replaced had been with us for an astonishing 26 years, serving first as our main TV downstairs. When it finally stopped working, my wife and I had some slight disagreement over just what should replace it in our average-sized master bedroom. Basically, I wanted a 60-inch wide-screen HD TV with surround sound, and she would have been happy with a 19-inch used set.

So I played a little dirty. Her birthday and Mother’s Day are right around the same time, and I saw an opportunity. Her big gift that year was a 30” wide-screen HD television with simulated surround sound and a terrific picture. I spent a lot of time picking it out – all with her in mind, of course. It’s just the kind of guy I am.

She was appropriately grateful, though it was obvious she was not fooled despite my brilliant and cunning plan. I don’t know what more she could have wanted. I set it up for her, connected the DVD player and new HD cable box, and programmed my favorite shows to record so she could share them with me. It was obviously every woman’s fantasy, and I was just happy to enable her to live the dream.

It was wonderful for a while. The Red Sox and Celtic games looked great on the new screen, and she appeared happy – even though she seemed incapable of recognizing the difference between the HD and standard definition picture. But I was slowly educating her on all matters of television, and things were good all around.

Then they began to change. It happened slowly, which might explain why it took me so long to recognize the danger. One night I went up to join in her in bed and watch the end of the ballgame, and there was something strange flitting across that beautiful screen. I thought it was a commercial at first, and patiently waited for the Sox to reappear. But the silliness just continued, forcing me to ask her just what it was she was viewing on “her” television. She smilingly informed me it was a show called “Dancing With The Stars”. I felt the first warning chills run up and down my spine.

And so it began. She discovered this infernal network known as “HGTV” that airs shows where men fix things and appear useful. There was a constant barrage of people selling and buying homes I could not afford. There were wedding shows – oh good Lord, were there wedding shows – where obnoxious brides tried on dresses and sniped at each others reception plans. It was pure agony, and there was little I could do. After all – it was “her” TV.

She learned how to record things on the DVR. I began seeing things like “Say Yes To The Dress” and other scary titles. And now, when I want to get a bigger set for my nocturnal viewing, she says she likes this TV. She doesn’t want to change, even for a bigger and better screen.

And this after all I have done for her television-wise. I’m telling you, she doesn’t fully appreciate me.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be reached at You can also follow him on Twitter at @billinsidelook.

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