Monday, April 12, 2010

Marriage. A Game of Inches

Our television is slowing losing its light.

I'm not talking about the dearth of quality programming. Although that would not be a waste of poetics.

(Who is actually watching a washed up actress like Kirstie Alley lose weight? Again? No, don't tell me. I don't want to know.)

Actually, what I'm referring to is the dark band slowly inching its way down the television screen. I thought it would just go away. But the Comcast guys who came to digitize my family assure me that it will continue until the screen is completely black.

They deliver this news quite solemnly. For an instant the technicians are doctors at Comcast General Hospital giving my teary-eyed, Kleenex-clutching husband the tragic bedside news that Television isn't going to make it and that he should just pull the plug.

Back in real-life, my husband is ecstatic. “See. And they’re experts,” he says. The guys all nod. Even my son nods.

I don't trust them. Including my son who's not too young for ulterior motives. And the Comcast technicians are men. Of course they’re going to agree with my husband. They’re in cahoots. I’ve seen the commercials.

For the past couple of weeks, he's been hinting that we need a new television and now he has professional testimony to counter my but-the-old-one-is-fine argument. I look over at three grown men and one boy huddled around the new remote, deep in remote-speak as they discuss its potential.

But I am not an unreasonable woman. I watch some television and love movies. So the other day at 7:30 am, in a half-asleep, non-caffeinated stupor, I cross paths with my husband in the kitchen and mumble, “I think you're right. We may need a new television. The top of Audrey Hepburn’s head was cut off during Breakfast at Tiffany’s last night. Not a good look for her.”

My husband makes a bee-line to the living room and grabs his wallet.

“Anyway, I didn’t watch the movie,” I say to the back of his disappearing head. “You really need to see the tops of people’s heads to enjoy a film. But that's okay. I love the short story. And I’ve heard that Hollywood took out all the depravity. I guess depravity isn't a good look for Audrey either."

While I’m making coffee in the kitchen blathering on about Truman Capote and the sanitizing effect of Hollywood, he’s typing on his computer and not listening to a word I'm saying.

“There,” he says quite pleased. “It’ll be here in a couple days.”

"What will be here? What did you just do? I said I think we may need to buy one. Don’t we need to talk about this, do some research, take some measurements?"

“We just talked about it. And I want to buy it now before you wake up and change your mind,” he says.

It’s 7:48 am and he just bought a 32-inch television. Who buys a television before 8 am? Then again, who talks about Truman Capote before 8 am?

This is all unnatural.

He pulls up the website to show me the model. "Best of this type on the market," he says beaming. Seems he’s already done his research. Lots of research. Secret research.

I feel played.

But the new television isn't here yet and there's a much-anticipated semi-final college basketball game he wants to watch. This will take planning. And temperature maintenance. See, the longer the old television is on, the hotter it gets and the bigger the black band grows. His tactic is to keep the television off long enough to ensure a full screen of visibility up until the last minutes of the game. Evidently it's just as difficult to watch basketball without the top of the picture as it is watching a lobotomized Audrey Hepburn.

I ask if some bags of frozen corn will help.

"You know," he says wanting to pop my smart-ass balloon, "Your covering up the television with that shroud thing actually precipitated its death by blocking the cooling vents."

Okay. Yes. I like to cover the television when it's off. Ever since I saw The Ring with its slime-covered dead girl crawling through the television, can you really blame me? But now I feel partly responsible for the all-too-soon arrival of a bigger television in our all-too-small living room. It's not as if our apartment has a ManCave to house the impending 32-inches.

But I'll come around. Especially when I get to watch one of my beloved Pedro Almodovar films without squinting at the subtitles. Never again will I wonder what Penelope Cruz is saying. But really. It's so hard to watch subtitles when she's on the screen. Unless I learn Spanish, I may never know what she's saying.

When the television arrives, I'm shocked at how thin she is. (The television. Not Penelope.) And sleek. I like her. I like her a lot. She's surprisingly attractive and her black frame is actually less noticeable than her predecessor's huge, grey box. (Um, I guess I should be careful with the nautical, feminine pronoun.)

Oh and look. She comes with her own remote making the digital remote, which has been in my life for only eight days but to which I've grown accustomed, completely obsolete.


Besides having to attend my husband's "How To Consolidate Your Remotes And Optimize Your Viewing Experience" seminar, I'm quite excited. I can't wait to reserve a bunch of foreign films on Netflix.

My husband once said that the only reason he doesn't enjoy my foreign film selections is because he can't read the small subtitles. Well, now I can order all the French murder-mystery musicals and epic-length Chinese historical films I want.

I've been dying to see The Promise, a two-hour Tang Dynasty romance where a slave girl is transformed into a beauty by a goddess then falls in love with a general but no one ends up together and, most likely, dies tragically all the while dressed in multiple layers of very elaborate, non-revealing costumes.

He's going to be so happy.

Some may measure the longevity of a relationship by using time. Very traditional. Others may use things like children or natural disasters. Some may even use their bathroom scale. But that's just mean. One of my favorites came from my sister-in-law’s octogenarian grandfather who when asked how long he had been dating his lady-friend answered, “Oh, let's see. About 1,200 miles."

Up until I moved in with my husband, I had never owned a television. He came equipped with a Casio TV-1400 LCD pocket color television. Batteries not included. We would watch Jeopardy! on the tiny, fuzzy 1-inch screen. Video clues were difficult.

But look at us now. We're still going strong.

Even at 32-inches.