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The Other Mistress 

Screens and haste define even the best modern-day relationship


What's with TV and men, anyway? I have a brand-new apartment on the water furnished with the latest furniture styles, gleaming appliances and fabulous artwork. My girlfriends come over to ooh and aah over my silky crimson drapes, plush soft bath towels and crystal blue flower vases. But my men friends? All they see is the HDTV. The remote is in their hands fast after that first hug and hello.

At least I never have to worry about other women. My boyfriend gets so crabby when I complain about his TV watching that he'll threaten time alone with "the other mistress." At his own house, he has a new HDTV with a bigger screen than mine and with more channels, and "she" doesn't quip sarcastic commentaries on the danger of radiation burning the surface of your eyeballs from hours and hours of screen play. (I suspect she has no cellulite, either—all sleek smooth lines).

Going with a bunch of gals to see Sex and the City 2, what scene brought the most moans and groans from my fellow females? When Big bought Carrie a HDTV for their bedroom for their anniversary! He was thrilled. Guess how she felt. Comments echoed all around me: "All my husband does is watch TV." "He only wants me for my Sony." "If a fire broke out, the Samsung would be grabbed first!"

What has happened to us? The new age of tech has brought us unspeakable advances in communication. I marvel at how our senses can be stimulated, imagination transported and relationships developed across oceans in a blink of an eye. I love a great movie in 3D just like anyone else. Avatar and Up were incredible. But our habits have fallen into a new wave of tech obsessions. It's affecting how we relate—and how we date. Mention a trip to the art gallery, my guy slumps. Best Buy? The car keys are already in his hands!

Our high-speed tech lifestyle reaches into all facets. Recently, I read an article about speed dating. Five minutes for each person, then the timer goes off and you talk to someone else for five minutes. Fast, like an assembly line. Whatever happened to making time to get to know one another?

My daughter works in a restaurant in the city and tells me how families bring their children in and place the DVD players in front of them at the table in order to calm and amuse the kids so Mommy and Daddy can have some "dating time." (Of course, most of the time, cell phones are whipped out and texts are typed in between the appetizers and dessert.)

Adults are getting carpal tunnel syndrome with too much finger-punching, while teens are known to text 600 times a day! (What? Furthermore: how? That's 60 an hour, 10 hours a day. When do they go to the toilet?) In the good old days, a woman would throw a man's clothes out the window when he strayed. Now she throws the HDTV and remote out with the trash—and him, too.

On a lighter note, my guy is great. He's witty, has a good heart, makes me dinner—shuts the tube off when we dine—and laughs at my stupid jokes. But wouldn't it be nice, once in awhile, to sit on the deck, hold hands and watch nature TV? The moon, the water, the boats sailing by? Not as exciting as CSI, but it sure would feed my soul and give us a little time to get to know each other again.

Petaluma writer Nancy Long is the creator of the 5 Minute Street Play Festival, host of the LiveWire Literary Salon and an award-winning playwright and director.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 700 words considered for publication, write

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