As I write this, I am home alone without a caring soul in the house. My wife said she wanted to go to Michigan to visit friends. I was opposed to this and was very firm. “Don’t you have friends here? Gas is expensive. So are hotels.” She left yesterday.
Whenever she goes out of town, I need instructions on how to use the microwave and dishwasher. We also have an air fryer now, which I can turn on, but I can’t figure out how to turn it off. So, I just pull the plug. Time passes slowly when my wife is away, not just because I miss her, but because it’s been 4:27 in the great room for the past 22 hours. I don’t know how to wind the grandfather clock.
Watching TV without Mary Ellen is a real problem for me, too. First of all, I am hard of hearing. Second, even with captions, I lose the thread of the story because my mind wanders, and third, I am very impatient. I ask questions about the plot before anyone is supposed to know.
“Why did that woman jump off the bridge?” I’ll ask.
“I don’t know, Dick. Nobody knows. We’ve been watching the show for 45 seconds.”
Before Mary Ellen’s current trip, we started the first episode of a series called Severance, but she decided after the first 10 minutes that she had seen enough and she left the room. It was way too weird for her. She reminded me that she was going on vacation and this would give me something to occupy my time in her absence. And that’s where the trouble began.
The show was confusing to me from the start. It’s about a company apparently involved in some illegal activity. They implant a programmable chip in employees’ heads so when they leave the office, they don’t recall what questionable stuff they did that day. I suffered from a similar lack of memory for 30 years at WISH-TV, but I’ve been told over the years by people who watched my segments that I looked like I was having fun. I was so happy to know I enjoyed my work.
The first night she was away, I called Mary Ellen to ask her a question about the plot. “Can you turn on Severance and help me figure this out?”
“Dick, remember, you asked me stay at a cheap place to save money. I know this is hard to believe, but they don’t have Apple TV+ at Motel 6.”
I asked Mary Ellen if I could hold the phone up to the TV so she could listen. “I’m going to rewind it and play the part I don’t understand. Then you can help me decipher what it means.”
“Geesh, Dick, watching Severance was already weird enough. Okay, I assume from the promos that the woman is drilling into the dead guy’s head, trying to extract the chip to see what memories he had of the company.”
Turns out Mary Ellen was right, which annoyed me because she had never even watched a full episode. I was on show number six.
The next day in church I approached our friends the Penrys, who initially had recommended the show. “Dan, can you help me understand one of the story lines in Severance?”
“Oh,” said Alyce, his wife, “I didn’t know Mary Ellen was out of town.”
Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@ aol.com.