What I’m about to say is not exactly breaking news. This is something that every wife and female significant other knows only too well. While we can congratulate ourselves on having made great strides in the fight for equality with males in many arenas, there remains at least one battle zone where men are holding fast. And I do mean holding fast. It might as well be a logo on a victory banner. A tightly clenched masculine fist, with fingers possessively wrapped around the TV remote control.
The origins of a man’s inalienable right to dominate TV viewing is unclear to me. But no matter. I give up. I give in. I have moved on to assert myself in other areas, like the setting on the air conditioning, or which side of the bed is unarguably mine. But there are evenings in the TV room when I seriously consider rebellion.
I present a scenario. My husband and I have finished eating dinner, and it’s time for relocation. I relocate into the kitchen to do the cleaning up, and he relocates onto his favorite chair in front of our amply-sized flat screen TV with the state-of-the art sound system. I can clearly hear the state-of-the-art sound system above the loud sounds of the water running in the sink, the clanging of the pot that I am trying to clean, and the dogs noisily rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher as they try to lick off the last piece of food residue.
I am finally finished and look forward to relaxing for an hour or two watching my favorite TV shows. I mean to ask my husband if he wouldn’t mind lowering the volume a bit, but I find him fast asleep in his favorite chair with the TV remote, as represented on the victory banner, clenched tightly in his fist.
Now, I’m a sensitive person. I don’t want to disturb him. But it’s come down to a choice between his nap and my ear drums. Potential hearing loss trumps snoozing any time. I try to be gentle, but did you ever try to pry a delicious meaty bone out of a dog’s mouth? Even if you haven’t, I’m sure you get what I mean. Of course I wake him up, and of course he is upset with me. I ask a simple question. “Why can’t you leave the remote on the table in neutral territory?” He looks at me like I have just suggested he donate a kidney.
Then there’s the time I enter the room and a serious drama is being played out on the TV screen. The actors are all beautiful and very emotive. It is a tragedy of some sort and people are crying. Sad music is playing the background. I could easily become absorbed, except for one little drawback. Everyone is speaking Spanish. My husband had been lying on the couch channel-surfing. He apparently wiped-out at Telemundo. And where is the remote control? Resting peacefully on top of the family jewels. I wonder what the cost would be of trying to excise it from this portion of his anatomy, and decide it would be more prudent to go bungee-jumping.
Perhaps it is too late for my generation of women to change the sexual politics of controlling the remote. Had we foreseen our bondage, we would have insisted on a pre-nup guaranteeing equal-opportunity clicker management. But I see a brighter day ahead for my younger sisters. I read in the New York Times recently that the device as we know it may soon be obsolete, and could be replaced by another that interfaces with the TV via brain power. I grin as I imagine how that will level the playing field, and dare I suggest, even shift the advantage?
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