Parental guidance

My parents’ 51 1/2 year marriage very nearly ended in divorce last night – over the Direct TV remote. Trust me, I wish I was kidding.

It all started when my father insisted on tuning in to game one of the world series. My mother wasn’t opposed to this – she’s as big of a baseball fan as he is. (Although she’s still bitter about the Dodgers desertion of Brooklyn.)

No, the problem was that in his search to find the game among the 935 channels listed, he changed the format of the screen.

I wish I could say it was the first time. But it wasn’t. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that he insists on using the remote while he’s sitting in the dark. Without his glasses.

You can probably guess who gets called in to fix his mess.

For some reason my father’s remote antics struck a nerve with my mother last night, and an argument ensued. Of course, if you ask either one of them, they’ll tell you it was a “discussion.” The raised voices? A necessity, my mom with explain, putting it all down to my father’s hearing.



By now, I’ve realized that my parents actually like these heated little exchanges. Maybe it adds a little spice to their more than half-century long relationship. (I’d rather not think about that, thank you very much.) All I know is that I don’t like it. It gives me agita.

They, of course, think this is amusing. Me, not so much.

I can’t help it. I just don’t like conflict. (Hence my aversion to school board meetings.) As soon as they start having one of their, ahem, discussions – I start popping antacids.

Last night’s little episode didn’t top what I’ve taken to calling the “rose bush incident” from a month or so back.

It went down on one of the rare week nights when my social calendar was clear of school board meetings or any other engagements, and I was looking forward to a quiet evening watching a movie with my dear parents.

For some reason or another, our conversation turned to roses. I can’t remember what started us on the topic, but it was fine at first. Until my darling mother and father began “discussing” a particular rose bush in the front of our house.

My mom insisted the white rose bush was of the domesticated variety, and had been planted prior to they purchased the house and surrounding 153 or so acres, circa 1962 or 1963. (I’d ask for clarification on that, but they’d know instantly what I was writing about. I’d rather it be a surprise.)

My darling father, on the other hand, was equally as adamant that the rose bush was wild.

I felt like I was watching a match at Wimbledon, as they parried back and forth.

When the action died down, I passed a simple remark about how glad I was I’d chosen this particular evening to stay in. Though I’d said it softly, it was picked up easily by my father’s somewhat-selective hearing, at which point I was reminded of my ability to take myself upstairs and summarily dismissed.

That’s right. He sent me to my room.

I did take myself upstairs, because the floor show had, unsurprisingly, made me reconsider a friend’s prior offer for dinner.

My friends and family laugh when I share these little vignettes of my parents. I’m convinced they think I’m being overly melodramatic, or simply making it all up. But this past weekend, when my Aunt Maureen and cousin Barbara came up for a visit to “the Farm,” as our abode is known throughout my mom’s family, they got a chance to witness it first hand.

I remember at one point, when my parents were just hitting their stride in a “discussion” about who knows what topic, meeting my cousin’s eye. I knew from the gleam of understanding that I didn’t even need to share my sentiments about the exchange.

My friend Julie knows to keep a bottle of chocolate wine on hand for those occasions when I need to de-stress – OK, vent – about my parent’s latest antics.

I hope she’s had time to replenish her stash this weekend, because who knows what kind of “discussions” this column will spark in the Stagnaro household tonight.

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