Wife leaves town, husband lost


Mary Ellen went to a conference last week in Chicago and left me at home. Alone. When she abandoned me last year, I realized I did not know how to run the dishwasher or operate the convection oven.

I felt guilty about all the dirty dishes she came home to, but I am really good with the clothes washer, so to make up for the mess in the kitchen, I went through Mary Ellen’s laundry basket and washed everything. I don’t know what she ate in Chicago, but when she got home two days later and took everything out of the dryer, nothing fit.

Before Mary Ellen left, she spent an entire evening showing me how to use all the television devices and explaining to me the difference between HDMI1 and HDMI2. It is still not clear to me what those initials actually stand for, although HD should be HELP DICK.

I do know this: having the choice of HDMI1 and HDMI2 costs me $200 a month.

Mary Ellen and I watch so many different programs that I can’t keep any of the story lines or characters straight. I really can’t miss an episode or I am lost. The one exception to this was the old TV series “Lost,” where even after I watched every episode, I was still lost.

When we watch shows together, I am continually asking Mary Ellen to hit the pause button so I can ask questions, such as: Is that a good guy or a bad guy? Wasn’t she killed in the last episode? Is that his wife or sister?

The first night she was in Chicago, I checked out the DVR to see what I needed to get caught up on. There were these shows: “Underground,” “Billions,” “Homeland,” “Feud,” “24” and “Designated Survivor.” There were dozens of British dramas and mysteries in the queue, which Mary Ellen loves but I don’t watch because they are not always captioned. Why can’t these British people speak English like the rest of us?

I put on “Billions,” a great show about the world of high-stakes finance, starring Damian Lewis as cutthroat investor Bobby Axelrod. Five minutes into it, I called Mary Ellen in her hotel room to help me understand what was going on.

“There’s only one reason you could be calling at this hour, Dick. You’re watching a TV show and you have questions.”

“Yes, I am very confused. This Bobby Axelrod character: wasn’t he killed a few episodes back?”

“No, Dick, you are thinking of Damian Lewis when he played Nicholas Brody in ‘Homeland.’”

“Is that the show where he beheaded two of his wives?”

“No, that was when he played Henry the VIII in ‘Wolf Hall.’”

“So that’s how he earned his reputation as a cutthroat?”

After a few more calls, Mary Ellen was getting impatient with me. “Dick, promise me you’ll quit watching TV so I can get some sleep.”

I searched under the couch and between the pillows. I looked under the coffee table and behind the lamp. I really did want to turn off the TV. But it wasn’t remotely possible.