Men love their toys, but seldom share with others. They especially don’t share with their wives.
When we last brought home a new TV, I couldn’t wait to watch my favorite shows. I should have gotten a good book instead.
“Look what this can do,” my husband said, happily pushing remote buttons. “It’s a picture in the picture. Isn’t that great?”
“Wonderful. Can it also switch to channel eight? The movie’s starting.”
“Wait, you can even get three pictures in one. What do you say to that?”
“Would one of them be my movie?”
“Sure.” He pressed some more buttons. The screen’s upper left corner showed a snapshot sized version of Star Wars. I couldn’t tell whether I was looking at Darth Vader or a black chess piece.
“I’m amazed,” I said, contriving a look of awed respect. “How do you do that?”
“It’s easy,” he said with a smug expression, and proceeded to demonstrate.
Once I’d figured it out, I grabbed the remote and switched my movie to the big screen. Then I erased the other pictures obscuring my view. My husband gave a strangled cry.
“You made them go away,” he gasped.
I patted his shoulder. “There, there, you can play after the movie.”
“But I haven’t tried the cool sound features yet.” He sniffled. “And the closed captioning. And—“
“Here.” I handed back the remote and left. Squinting at our little black and white, I decided it was better than watching him cry.
After my husband had had fun with the programming, operating the new TV was like cracking the Enigma code. After three months, I still hadn’t seen an entire show on it. If my husband was present, he insisted on showing off the latest function he had mastered. When alone, I could only get the weather station. I got really good at naming cloud formations.
One day, while cleaning, I came across the TV’s operating manual. My husband had neglected to mention we had one. And so, while listening to the weatherman’s drone, I pored over the instructions. After several trial and error sessions, I rediscovered the wonderful world of color programs.
It was like a family reunion. Had Matt Lauer done something new to his hair? And suddenly Oprah looked as though she’d gotten a completely different wardrobe. As I pondered this, my husband walked in and let out his favorite word.
“Watching TV. Why?”
He rushed to check the TV as if it were a critical patient. “Give me that remote.” (I swear he almost said, ‘stat’.) “Will the channels still change? The volume and mute buttons work? What about the picture in a picture?” After a frantic diagnostic, he took some slow, calming breaths, then fixed his gaze on me. “Just what’s happened here?”
“I found the manual, and figured out how to work it.”
He stared aghast. “You’ve been reading instructions?” He spoke as though I’d been reading subversive literature. “You’ll never learn properly from a manual—they never get it right.” He puffed out his chest slightly. “You have to just keep practicing until you master it, that’s the only way to learn.”
“Let’s see.” I took the remote and put the television through all its functions, finishing with four pictures in pictures. The whole thing took less than five minutes.
Afterward, while squinting at my little black and white, I decided it was still better than watching a grown man cry.