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  • Writer's pictureJim Pfiffer

A remote battle of the sexes

Weekly humor column by Jim Pfiffer, Elmira NY

TV remotes are supposed to make life easier.

Not mine.

The remote in our home causes frustration, stress, marital strife and the throwing of things.

The problems begin when we can’t find the remote. My wife, Shelley, and I frantically search for it beneath cushions, furniture, piles of magazines and newspapers on the coffee table and under the dog if she is in the room. You never know.

(For the record: Shelley doesn’t actually “help” look for the remote. Instead, she offers helpful verbal support, like “I’m not the last one who used it, am I?”)

Shelley: You should see him when he can’t find it. He’ll look under the same cushions several times, just in case he didn’t see it the first three times. The longer he looks the worse he gets, but he won’t use the buttons on the TV set to turn it on. He must possess and control the remote. It makes him feel like he’s in charge. One time he looked for it for 20 minutes. I found it on the top shelf of the fridge where he had absent-mindedly left it when he got a snack.

Me: First of all, why is she interrupting my column? I didn’t ask for her “alleged” side of the story. Now I must boldface “Shelley” and “Me,” so you know who is talking. See what I must put up with? And yes, I need to have control of the remote because I watch TV like it is supposed to be watched – multiple channels at once, never spending more than a few minutes on each, and changing it as soon as it gets boring. I have a keen ability to multi-task and do it well. Get this: Shelley watches ONE PROGRAM AT A TIME, including commercials! So wrong. So terribly wrong.

Shelley: Multi-tasking, my foot. He has ADD.

Me: There is a universal unwritten rule of home TV viewing that states that you must be in the room with the TV to officially be considered “watching” it, like when Shelley yells from another room, “Jim. Why did you change the channel? I was watching that.”

Baloney. You can’t claim viewing and remote rights from another room. If you’re not in the TV room, the remote and TV programming control automatically goes to the person closest to the TV. Gotta follow the rules, right?

Shelley: We try to find programs or movies that we can watch together, but we have very different tastes in programming.

Me: She’s right. We do have different tastes. Mine are good. Hers are bad.

Shelley: He won’t watch anything unless it contains: sports, violence, car chases, explosions, John Wayne, people doing stupid stunts, nudity, or the possibility of nudity.

Me: We have hundreds of channels and streaming services, and she watches the E Network, Lifetime, or educational and instructional programs. Can you believe it? She watches TV to learn!

Shelley: Jim’s hearing is bad because he’s old and he spent his youth listening to loud music on his earphones. So, he must have captions and the volume turned up to “window-rattling.” He gets so frustrated when he pushes the wrong remote buttons. That’s when I usually leave the room because I know things are going to get ugly.

Me: Sometimes when I’m switching channels, I hit the wrong buttons and turn off the TV, or worse, change it to the Lifetime channel. One time I hit three buttons at once and my garage door opened. I have all these extra buttons that I don’t need. What I do need is a “mute” button that I can use to make my wife stop dissing me in this column.

Shelley: Ladies, I have a tip for you if your husband is being a jerk. The next time he has a day off or plans to watch the big game, get out of the house. Take a walk, go to the movies or visit a friend.

And take the remote with you.

Jim Pfiffer’s humor column is posted every Sunday on theJim Pfiffer Facebook page, Hidden Landmarks TV Facebook page Jim lives in Elmira with his wife, Shelley and many pets, and is a retired humor columnist with the Elmira Star-Gazette newspaper. Contact him at


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