The battle for the remote

“What are we watching?” I asked my husband, Justin, irritatedly one Sunday afternoon.

Justin smirked, and I glanced at the TV, unimpressed by the extreme couponing show he’d flipped on.

“It’s Sunday,” I told him. “Football.”

“But there’s nothing good on,” he complained. “I’m learning how to be an extreme couponer.”

“Football,” I said again, rolling my eyes at his joke. “Football should be on this TV on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. No stupid couponing shows. Football.”

“Yes, dear,” he answered robotically as he flipped to the football game.

This scene is probably familiar to a lot of you. The husband controls the remote, and the wife is at his mercy.

When Justin and I started dating, I noticed right away that he watched a lot of TV. Well, actually, I considered any television watching a lot because I didn’t watch TV. I’d pretty much given it up after spending the period before, during and after my transplant glued to the television, as there was little else I could do. At some point, I realized I’d absorbed enough television in six months to last me about six years. The only things I really watched on TV were sporting events.

I suppose it was inevitable that I’d end up with a couch potato. He really was gracious, though, and always offered to watch whatever I wanted to watch, but my answer was always the same, “I don’t watch anything.”

A long time ago, I watched a lot of TV shows. I recorded about 80 percent of them because I didn’t want to watch them anymore, but yet I felt I had to. Watching the recorded shows felt like homework.

Finally, the time came when I just couldn’t watch one more second of television. There were more productive things I could be doing. I spent lots of nights writing, drawing, reading or making jewelry – just anything except turning on the TV. My remote control had dust on it. I actually went for a period of about eight weeks without watching any TV at all. And when football season rolled around, I admit it was quite difficult to turn the TV on to watch the games, especially the pregame shows. Pointless drivel, I thought.

So perhaps, by letting Justin control the remote from the start, I was a bit too lenient. And just singling him out as a couch potato is unfair, as I like to do my share of unwinding on the couch and playing on my iPhone. He’s got the TV on, but I try to block it out.

Some things, however, are so annoying that I just can’t block them out. Like the music in these video games he plays, for instance. In the latest WWE video game, Justin spends the majority of his time setting character preferences. While he’s debating whether or not to give his wrestler a mohawk or clown hair, little snippets of the WWE Superstars’ theme songs play over and over in the background. And over and over. And over and over. I can’t even go into another room to get away from it because our house is so small and also because my husband is apparently deaf – the volume is always cranked.

“How can you stand hearing those same songs over and over?” I asked one day, finally at my breaking point. “Doesn’t it bother you?”

He shrugged. “Not really.”

“Can’t you mute it or turn it off?” I wondered aloud. “It’s driving me crazy.”

“But if I turn it off there, then I won’t be able to hear their entrance music when I play a match,” he said pointedly, making it sound like this was a matter of life or death – like the fate of the universe hinged on whether or not John Cena’s music played when his avatar came out to fight in a video-simulated match.

Things like that I guess I can tolerate. However, sometimes I’ll walk into the living room and he’s watching Mob Wives or Real Housewives of “Insert large city here” or, worst of all, Teen Mom. It’s not like he spends a lot of time on these shows, but it’s enough to annoy me. The Mob Wives are the worst, as the one lady, unfortunately, has a pig nose, so I don’t like looking at her, and the rest of the cast, pig-nose lady included, can’t say more than three words in a row without dropping an f-bomb. These are shows that I usually put the kibosh on if I’m planning any extended period in the living room. I can’t stand them, and he knows it. Sometimes I think he turns them on just to see how much I’ll put up with.

My biggest pet peeve, however, is when we actually find a show that we are both watching, he changes the channel on commercial breaks and then forgets to turn the other show back on. And when he does turn it back, we’ve already missed five minutes and they’re going to another commercial.

“OK, you can turn it back now,” I always have to tell him. And he always makes a face, flips it back and says, “See, it’s still on commercial,” and turns back to the other station – which, by the way, is ALSO on a commercial break. If we’re going to watch commercials, why can’t we just watch them on the station the program we were watching was on? I don’t understand this logic of his.

Last week, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was on CBS, one of my favorite holiday shows of all time. To ensure I didn’t miss singing along with any of those wonderfully cheesy songs, I commandeered the remote. I even hid it beneath the pillow on my side of the couch. There would be no flipping channels during commercial breaks. I couldn’t miss one second of Rudolph for one of those stupid “Pawn Stars” rip-off exchanges that he’s seen about 20 times.

I suppose the battle for the remote isn’t something that will resolve overnight. It’s been building anyway, and now I’m at Justin’s remote control mercy. It’s something in the house I don’t have control over – and I don’t like it one bit. I’ll have to see what I can do to fix that. Stay tuned….