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The DVR, Football and Marriage: A Love Story

When I first got married there was no DVR in our home. This was a strange thing when you consider that my wife and I are college football fans. Very big college football fans. Even during our courtship a Thursday night date would consist of ordering a pizza and watching whatever ACC or Big East match up happened to be on ESPN that night. We'd sit down and watch East Carolina play Troy, if necessary, to get our fix.

What made this even stranger is that prior to getting married my wife didn't even have cable. On those dating Thursdays we'd watch the game on my 32 inch _____ picture tube. Ah, the ____. That goddamn thing weighed roughly the equivalent of a neutron star, yet produced as much light as an over heated toaster. But, I had cable. So when it was a night in watching a game or watching something on TV, we were at my place.

Then we got married.

Shocked when she learned that the cost of cable included the companies actually coming to house and removing two of your vital organs from your body via your rectum, she initially balked. We didn't need cable. We can watch the games elsewhere. We watch too much TV anyway. Shouldn't you go to the gym? Help me clean. Lets organize the closets. Delusional, she had convinced herself she could do without it. Well... she probably could have. It was me that'd had cable since I was 12. And let me tell you, going from 200+ channels to rabbit ears was like yanking my feeding tube. Perhaps I'm being too dramatic. It was like replacing the breakfast cereal I eat every day with sand and saying "eat up!"

A few months in, I'd reached my non-cable breaking point. We HAD to have it. During the summer months I could get by. It wasn't an Olympic year and there's only so much of Bob Brenley you can listen to before shooting yourself. So I found other ways to amuse myself. Did you know that it takes 278 squirrels to make a coat? And no, she didn't think it was a nice Valentie's Day gift.

I think the lack of cable started to wear her down as well. She'd gotten used to being able to turn on a game or a show here and there at my place, and now that luxury was gone. When the only thing consistently on free TV is baseball and Moesha, there's only so much of it you can handle to before you start breaking in to other people's house to watch actual television. Let's face it, cable's basically visual heroine. Once you get it in the system you can't give it up, and every day from that point forward is spent chasing that cable dragon. He's on channel 623, BTW. In what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only three weeks, we finally agreed to get cable.


But there was a new wrinkle that I threw into the discussion. I wanted a DVR. "A DVR?" she said, "Why?" Oooooooh sweetheart... "Are you serious?" I'd been jonesing for a DVR ever since I saw my first one. What an ingenious device. It was just like a VCR, but it did what it was supposed to do without burning your house down. No more clunky cassettes. No more blinking 00:00. No more horizontal three inch lines of fuzz right over the center of the screen. There was what I wanted to watch, without issue. More importantly, you could record multiple things at once on the same device! Fast forwarding through the commercials was just the icing on the cake.

In hindsight it's easy to see why a friend of mine continually says man's three greatest inventions are: fire; the DVR; and, the wheel. In that order.

Getting the DVR was trickier than getting cable back. Deep down, she wanted cable, she just didn't want to pay for it. The DVR was just an added expense. Thankfully, the DVR discussion began at about the same time that the Discovery Channel's "Planet Earth" was about to air. And being the Discovery Channel, the thing we actually wanted to watch was on at 3am Nova Scotia time. After haggling with the cable company I managed to get the cost of the DVR down to an extra $5 a month on our bill, and she agreed.

/cue the angels singing/

/end angels singing/

It's funny that something you barter over getting becomes such an integral part of your viewing habits. My wife and I now rarely watch anything we haven't DVR'd. All of our favorite shows are DVR'd, and we will intentionally find other things to do until he show we want to watch is on TV. Irrespective of the commercials, it is with football that the DVR has proven itself to be worth its weight in myrrh (Yes, myrrh. it is getting to be the Christmas season after all). With our home split between Notre Dame and Michigan, conflicts often arise as to our teams usually play at the same damn time. Further complicating the issue is that we have one real TV in the house. A beautiful, widescreen, LCD, 1080p HD television that was a condition of marriage. We also have a 24 inch tube. Neither of us wants to watch anything on that outdated piece of crap unless the other has to suffer through it as well. For sports it's either the LCD or argument.

However, with the DVR these arguments are now limited and rare in occasion. Over the years I have come to root for the Irish and she for the Wolverines. The joy of it is I can now DVR my team or she can DVR hers. We can do all those things "normal" people do on the weekends and still be able to watch our games. We can go to things like weddings or funerals and not resent the people involved for making us miss our game. Only kidding. We're sorry for your loss. Really.  

The DVR is something that not only makes our lives better, but allows us to live more of our lives rather than being completely tied to the sofa. Is there anything better than watching a game you don't really have a vested interest in without commercials? Or, if you're in a hurry and need to know WTF happened on a single play, being able to rewind it or fast forward to the point where the doors fell off? It helps. It also makes being married easier.

Let's faced it, everyone has a competing interest on a Saturday. Most Saturdays, especially early in the season, that is a shared interest in football. But when your wife's team is 4-5, and coming off a loss to Tulsa at home, that interest begins to fade. It doesn't help when your team (her second team) is 5-3, in the middle of a three game losing streak, and fielding arguably the worst defense in the country. This weekend, that competing interest is fixing things that legitimately need to get fixed around our home before the winter freezes set in. This is stuff that, sadly, actually needs to get done.

But thanks to the DVR, I'm not going to miss anything. I'm turning my phone off and turning my tunes up while we get some work done. And then, when we're done, I'm sitting down and watching my game start to finish. Without commercials.

Before the DVR, this might have been a mild argument, perhaps even a fight. With it, it can be the key to a successful marriage in the midst of a crappy football season. For every gripe about how technology has made our lives more complicated, at least in this instance, it's made life easier. In fact, it's a key to a happy marriage come football season.

At least until the Robots take over.