Ettie Newlands

I always thought they’d had an argument when my father watched a TV program in the den and my mother watched the same one in the bedroom.

Now I get it.

The revelation came the other night when my husband asked me to watch something with him in the den.

Normally when we watch something together in there, my thinking is that that room is his domain much more than it is mine. If he likes things this way instead of that way, that’s fine.

But that particular evening, it was the perfect storm.

The first thing I did was turn off the overhead fan.

“The air needs to circulate,” he told me.

“Not around me it doesn’t,” I told him back.

Then I switched on a small lamp.

He pointed out that he wasn’t reading.

I pointed out that a.) It’s bad for the eyes to watch TV in an otherwise totally dark room, and b). It’s just wrong to sit in a room with no lights on.

“According to who?” he asked. “That’s ‘according to whom,’ ” was my only response. I cannot even describe the look that followed.

Then I closed the blinds.

An explanation seemed in order, so I told him people driving by could see right into the room when the light was on and it was dark outside.

His solution to that problem was to leave the light off.

That wasn’t happening, but I asked him if he didn’t feel strange knowing people could see into the room through the uncovered window.

“What are they going to see?” he reasoned. “A man sitting on the couch with the TV – and the overhead fan – on?”

There was no way I was going to make him see how right I was and how wrong he was.

And besides, by then, the TV program was so far along, there was no point watching the rest of it.

But at least I realized my parents hadn’t been arguing all those many nights.


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