Ah, for the good old days of black-and-white TVs that were so dumb that they pulled in maybe just one or two stations. Of course, the images sometimes were fuzzier than the Coulee Region skies were during that cotton tree blizzard last week.

This guy I know remembers well the Stupid TV Stone Age when folks had to walk across the room to change channels.

Fast forward to now, and this guy I know continuously regales me with stories about how he and his wife are copacetic soulmates — the yin to the other’s yang, the gravy to each other’s potatoes, the liberalism to the spouse’s conservatism (I tossed that in just to tease; they’re both “libtards,” as the alt-right impugns).

He claims that they speak nary a cross word to each other, and the only time they cross swords is when they try to put some tech gadget together — together. Sometimes, they end up slapping each other’s hands like two-thirds of the Three Stooges, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

I often have asked this guy I know if I could spin his yarns into columns, but after he’s given me the dirt, he usually demands that I sweep it under the rug. He’s skeert that she will find out he’s a leaker.

This time, he gave me permission to blow the whistle, with the caveat that I protect their identities. If I don’t, he guarandamntees that a brawl will erupt with such fury that we’ll have to have Katie bar the door.

The wife is an anomaly: YUGE problems don’t bother her a whit, but teensy ones can drive her over the edge.

For example, when they got married, the singer/accompanist sang the exit song when the bride was walking into the winery where they were married, and the entrance song as they walked out.

No big deal, right? Well, she still blames him because he screwed up when the accompanist double-checked the song order right before the ceremony. She doesn’t accept his justifiable alibi that he was preoccupied.

And this is seven years later — they just celebrated their anniversary the other day.

It’s as if there was a secret chord,

That David played and pleased the Lord.

But he didn’t order the music right, did he?

It was meant to be a rose without thorns,

But the organ pedals played a tune to mourn.

That baffled the bride on her journey.

So she tied him to the kitchen chair,

She broke his crown and cut his bearded hair.

But WAIT, I feel as if I’ve been here before,

I’ve heard the story and beheld the gore …

Whoa — that was déjà vu with tweaked lyrics. To get back on track, I repeat: Big problems don’t faze the wife of this guy I know, but little ones, such as dumb televisions, transform her into Delilah on the warpath.

She was damnsickandtired of arguing with their old TV, which she considered to be dumber than a post and balkier than a mule.

“If we just had a smart TV, we wouldn’t have these problems,” she said — a million times if she said it once, in epithet-filled tirades.

To be sure, the dumb TV worked fine for this guy I know, but he grew tired of seeing his wife frustrated when his life’s goal is to please her. (Plus, well, she hollered at the TV a lot and he missed a lot of dialog.)

So he went out and fetched a smart TV — even paid extra to have some geeks come over to set it up to avoid marital mayhem.

Everything was hunky dory for a while, and the house was quiet and calm until one day, the smart TV pulled a dumb move. This guy I know couldn’t even remember what it was; all he knew was that she unleashed a string of epithets at the smart TV.

This guy I know stupidly suggested that she read the directions for a change. The remote whizzed past his ear like a bullet in a firefight.

The smart TV regained its exposure, and everything was quiet again — until it went on the fritz again last weekend. It appeared to be a cable problem, so this guy I know suggested just letting things sit for a while to allow the smart synapses sync themselves or somebody downtown plug in the cord she had tripped over.

Instead, the wife started punching buttons and moving arrows and switching ports and plugs and HDMIs and doubting the smartness of the TV. When another TV started working, this guy I know bit his tongue instead of yielding to the temptation to tell her to relax and wait for the smart TV to catch up to the dumb one.

But by then, her maneuvers had thoroughly scrambled the smart TV’s brain. So this guy I know just ran to their bedroom for refuge. He disappeared under the covers faster than bedbugs when the lights go on in a seedy hotel room.

Then, this guy I know left her to her own devices and took a nap, drifting off during an episode of Investigation Discovery TV’s “Wives With Knives.”

A couple of hours later, he heard a joyous “whoopee” from the living room, and his wife declared victory in outsmarting the smart TV.

As for this guy I know, he kept his yap shut and high-fived her, although he silently longed for the good old days, when everything was black and white.



Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

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