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I Feel Your Pain

by David Westheimer


Watching TV is good.
But in basketball playoff season
Watching my wife watch TV Is better.
She draws in deep breaths
When things are tense.
She yelps when something
She admires happens.
She snorts in disdain
When something happens
She doesnt like.
Would you believe she never
Played the game herself?
In all her 80 years.

Now I know what it feels like to be a football widow. For years during football season I have sat in front of the biggest TV set in our apartment watching college football all day Saturdays and on Thursdays and pro football Monday nights and all day Sundays. While Dody read or watched TV on a smaller set.

Now I am a basketball widower.

It is playoff season and Dody sits in front of the largest TV set not only all day Saturdays and Sundays but also on unpredictable weekdays and nights. While I read or watch TV on a smaller set. (Actually, I mostly listen to big band era tunes on a music channel on digital cable.)

What it boils down to, I guess, is that she likes to watch tall, skinny millionaires in short pants running around a gym and I prefer watching tall, heavy millionaires in padded suits knocking each other down outdoors.

I know when it is halftime because she comes to wherever I am to see if I am awake or just resting with my eyes closed or if its mealtime to ask if I want something to eat even though she has long maintained she is all cooked out. If I want something to eat I cant fix myself I sure better ask for it at halftime. Of course for anything important she will drag herself away from the big set (the screen is about 5 by 5 feet and the shaved, glistening heads are almost life size).

Like today when this friend with an ailing, elderly (he is even elderlyer than I am) husband came by to pick up the pecan pie Dody had baked for him and Dody went out to the back alley to give it to her so she wouldnt have get out of her car. Although she is in her late seventies and married for maybe more than forty years she didnt know how to bake a pecan pie or do much of anything else in the kitchen. She is more a phone person than a stove person and all these years when they didnt eat out she ordered in.

In recent weeks, when Dody hasnt been watching basketball she has been teaching her friend over the phone how to cook things like ham and cheese sandwiches on a George Foreman grill (as Dody often does for me and they are delectable) and do vegetables in the microwave (which Dody thinks are delectable but I do not) and her friend is very grateful and is going to have us to lunch. In a restaurant of our choice.

Sometimes when I have nothing better to do I will go in and ask her who she is rooting for and whos ahead (she never does me the courtesy of asking what football team I am rooting for and whos ahead) and if she knows she tells me which I guess is about as much as you can expect from a basketball fan.

Dody claims the big set during the World Series, too, to watch millionaires in little caps try to knock a baseball out of the park. I dont know if it is important to her who wins but sometimes from the next room I hear her cry out enthusiastically when someone does something that thrills her so I guess she does care, a little. Though I dont watch baseball with her now, I have in certain eras. The Jackie Robinson era (wed met him and he came to lunch at our house back in our Houston days when he visited the city), the Sandy Koufax days and the Fernando Valenzuela period.

Maybe what we need to bring us together in front of the big screen to watch tall millionaires in short pants is someone in particular to root for. Michael Jordan almost did it. Maybe some short guy I can identify with or who would come over for lunch if Dody asked him.


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