Static in your marriage can lead to poor TV reception

image It’s time for another exciting edition of Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. Please understand that this is not about venting or vindictiveness; I was simply someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way I knew how: Through humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married (ridiculously so) and constantly inspired to laugh for the right reasons.

Now we can all laugh together…

* * * * * * * *

After getting the kids to bed last night, my wife and I settled onto the couch for some much-needed down time only to find that our television was having transmission problems — beginning with the remote. My wife is the only one in our family qualified to operate it. Being a male, the longer I fool with it the further I revert along the evolutionary scale, until I’m reduced to beating the remote on the coffee table like a chimp trying to open a Super Ball.

That’s usually when my wife informs me I’m not pushing the right buttons, which is a direct contradiction to what I’ve been told at various points throughout our 15-year marriage. Regardless, on this particular occasion, even the “great wizard” was having problems with getting the remote to work. I know this because she kept moving closer and closer to the TV while pushing a mystical sequence of numbers and buttons that, if not effecting our television, were surely reprogramming the coordinates of a Soviet satellite somewhere.

Finally, as she stood fiddling with the remote less than six inches away from the screen, I politely asked if, since she was already there, she wouldn’t mind reaching over and turning on the television. Now, until you’ve been hit by a flying remote, it’s hard to appreciate its practical application as a weapon. I now carry one at all times, comforted by the knowledge that — be it would-be thug or rogue television — I have the means to handle the situation.

After getting a cold compress, I returned to find the TV screen, though on, now resembled an Etch A Sketch.

“I think it’s the antenna,” my wife said, immediately disregarding other possible scenarios I suggested, like the aforementioned Soviet satellite taking out the local transmitter.

“No, I really think it’s the antenna,” my wife insisted. “You should wear a coat.”
As much as my wife is the master of the remote, I am the master of the TV antenna — an extremely advanced, V-shaped assemblage of metal bars mounted to an 18-foot pole attached to the side of our house. Aside from hanging our ceiling fan, it is my greatest technological achievement.

Only I know where to slide aluminum foil, which wire to jiggle, and how much duct tape is needed to keep the pole from swinging when it’s windy. Without me, every station would look like old reruns of The Outer Limits. Which is why, when my wife yelled “That’s perfect!” before I had a chance to do anything, I did what any husband desperate to hold on to his only sliver of leverage would do.

That’s right. I shook that pole until there was enough static on the screen to suck the sweater off a sumo wrestler.

“Hey! What happened to the picture?” my wife yelled through the window.

“Give me a minute. You know how this process is. It’s a very exact science,” I reminded her.

After some duct tape, an adjustment of the foil, and a couple of jiggles, I got the picture back.

“What was the problem?” my wife asked when I came back in.

“It’s hard to explain. Very complicated,” I said, and removed my coat. “But I got it working again.”

Soon, we were settled back on the couch. “Thanks for doing that,” my wife said, then snuggled closer and whispered: “But if you ever again make me miss the first 10 minutes of my favorite show by shaking the antenna, we’re getting a divorce. Or cable.”

(Note from the present: Looking back on this now… Yeah, I probably should have known what was coming.)

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

54 thoughts on “Static in your marriage can lead to poor TV reception”

  1. Oh I so needed the laugh this morning. Life is being harsh. This post almost made me blow my coffee through my nose, though, which is painful! Thank you!

  2. I’m glad you’ve pointed out the perks of the Remote Weapon. It’s cheaper than a taser, there’s less chance you’ll spray yourself with it in the heat of battle, and you don’t even need to purchase one given that there’s always five extra ones around the house. I always learn something new from you, Ned 🙂

    1. Lol! Not to mention the fact that remotes have now gotten to be about the size of a tennis racket.

      And as for learning something new from me, that’s a real compliment coming from a teacher 😉

  3. LOL….too funny. I remember those antenna’s. I hated them and I’m sure tin foil never helped. No matter how many ways I re-foiled, the Outer Limits remained.

  4. Ha! Sad but cute. My in-laws had one of those antennas – pre cable, of course. I was quite astounded one holiday visit when we were enjoying an after-feast TV program and suddenly a CB radio broadcast began emanating from the TV. The screen filled with static and a radio conversation came forth. My father-in-law got up, put on his coat and left. A few minutes later the TV went back to normal and the FIL returned, took off his coat and sat down wih us. I couldn’t resist and had to ask: “Did you have tp adjust the antenna Clarence?” The answer was unexpected: ” Nooo, our neighbor is a ham radio operator and his antenna is bigger than ours. Everytime he gets on his radio, our TV picks it up. I just go next door and ask him to broadcast when we aren’t watching TV.”

    Gotta hate it when your neighbor’s antenna is bigger than yours.

  5. OMG…this was awesome in so many ways. All I could think was, “How long ago WAS this?!?)
    I’m MARRIED to the Cable Guy. Well…he was the cable guy until they laid him off after 24 years of loyal service. The irony is that we still have cable, but soon as severance runs out he said we should getting a shiny new antenna complete with foil. We’re not bitter though 🙂
    (At least I think I have him talked into Netflix!)

    1. Lol! I actually still use that same antenna for local TV; it picks up the five major channels. The rest of the time we stream Netflix. No arguments or threats over the TV in almost 7 years now 😉

  6. Ah, yes, rabbit ears. You’ve taken me back to a very “Good Times” and “Alice” period in my life. We would get it “just so” and then one half of the V would slowly fall downward, and damnit, it was static again. Although to be fair, every channel was static by midnight when the statue of liberty would appear and the flag would unfurl. It’s 10 o’clock: do you know where your children are? BTW, I have never before read this sentence: “I shook that pole until there was enough static on the screen to suck the sweater off a sumo wrestler.” Nice.

    1. Lol! Growing up, it was my job to spring into action and lift the rabbit ear(s) back into position whenever they drooped. Usually during “Emergency.” I credit that experience with why I can now spring out of bed whenever my fire pager goes off…

  7. I found your blog only recently, and the Post-Traumatic Sundays have become my favorite feature. They’re a hilarious vehicle for imparting some backstory. The flying remote segment from today’s? Hysterical.

    1. Thanks so much, Miz. I thought a lot about it before deciding to make it a regular feature. I didn’t want it to appear as sour grapes. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. To be honest, it’s been somewhat therapeutic for me, going back through those columns and “re-living” those times with a new perspective now that I’ve been happily remarried for several years. By the way, your description of “decorating my home like a sighted person” completely cracked me up.

      Good for you for having the strength to recognize a bad situation and having the courage to change it 😉

      1. You’re so kind to have stopped by my site–thank you for that and for finding something there that made you laugh. I share your conviction in the power of humor as a coping mechanism, so I can appreciate how it helped to write it at the time and to “re-live” it now. And I derive much, much hope from your happy remarriage!

  8. It is very wise indeed to act as if you are the expert in whatever it is that other people assign to you to be the expert in. Very wise indeed. 🙂
    Glad your current marriage is ridiculously happy. Sometimes we have to go through the bad stuff to really appreciate the good.

    1. That’s how I’ve kept most of my jobs, actually 😉 And I couldn’t agree more with you on the value of bad experiences in helping you appreciate the good.

    1. Thanks, Eric. I really appreciate that. As I told someone else, I hesitated for a while in running this feature because I didn’t to come off as sour grapes. But the experience of going back through these and re-living those times — and sharing them and some laughs with all of you — has been kind of therapeutic. Believe it or not, my wife is actually the one who encouraged me to do it! Just another reason I love her like crazy 😉

      Thanks for sharing the laughs with me.

  9. You have a tv antenna on your house in a place where the wind can blow you horizontally (well it would have if your hold on the pole had been stronger)? Hasn’t technology moved on since a bit since the television was invented?

    I love these posts about your previous marriage – wish I could write amusingly about mine (or write humorously at all…)

    ps has your book made it into ebook format yet?

    1. Truth be told, we hardly watch TV except using it for DVDs and streaming Netflix. Aside from that, it’s Hells Kitchen, The Bachelor or the news. So our antenna does fine for us.

      I’m glad you like these; I’m having fun with them, too 😉

      Oh, and unfortunately, my publisher is still waiting on the ebook version 😦

  10. Aw…thanks for the laughs. I needed this (my father and his wife are visiting from Canada and I’m busy showing them around…it’s great fun, but ‘alone time’ seems like a thing from a distant past at the moment)…
    No offense, but your ex-wife’s latest statement made me laugh the most…I hope you guys managed to get cable before getting the divorce:S

    1. Haha! Still no cable, but my wife and I do stream Netflix. The only static we ever have is when I forget to put the dryer sheets in with the laundry.

No one is watching, I swear...

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