I pound the clicker with all the gusto my thumb can muster.


And then a gathering, horrific crescendo of reckoning crosses my brain.

“Oh my god … the cable is out,” I stammer as grief begins to grip my soul.

This is a crushing blow to my evening plans. Stunned, I feel remorse that falls somewhere between “the dog died” and “my mother-in-law is coming to live with us.” (I won’t tell you in what order).

Once again I realize how much TV has integrated itself into my lifestyle. I’m embarrassed to admit that my service connects me to more channels than I could ever possibly watch … and still I occasionally can’t find a thing on that I find interesting.

But instead of killing the TV, I’ll leave on SPORTSCENTER, running through its continual loop as if my old friend Zenith is caught in an Alzheimer’s-like trance of repeating stories. Or I’ll flip to something peculiar like a soap opera on one of the Spanish language stations (c’mon men, I’m not alone here …), an edition of the “Match Game” circa 1968, or even (gasp!) the Food Channel. And, tonight I had been planning to put some newfound knowledge to work.

You see, I rushed home early to surprise Kim. Ordinarily, she’s the first to arrive, and therefore, makes supper for the two of us. But, tonight, I planned to prepare a lovely repast of stir-fry, teriyaki chicken and a colorful salad (unlike my usual dinner preparation of oatmeal smothered in steaming water). Thus far my only gaffe was expecting to find snow peas in the frozen food aisle. But the night was yet young and my televised tutorial was now kaput.

I’d been boning up on various culinary tricks by watching the seemingly nonstop parade of cooking shows that my wife calls entertainment. I borrowed a few pages from Rachel Ray (well, actually, just two things … I finished in 30 minutes and declared it “Yummo!”).

I worried a little about presentation like the blonde chick that looks like she puts potpourri in her sneakers. But, let’s face it. Wouldn’t you expect the best advice to come from someone intimately familiar with the topic? I pretty much believe every word spoken by that rotund woman chef who ravenously looks at Giada De Laurentis as if she’s a well dressed gnocchi.

Anyway, our house smelled great with the welcoming aroma of spicy food wafting about. The kitchen, however, looked like a New Orleans Linens ‘N Things … post-Katrina. I guess this catastrophic appearance is common when the cook doesn’t do the clean-up … or maybe it’s just when I’m chef. Period.

Ignoring the devastation surrounding the stove, Kim was truly tickled to be feted this evening. She stabbed at the meal with vigor, placing her trust and her palate into each portion. Soon though, it became apparent that her enthusiasm for the main courses seemed to wane, and she took to gorging on the salad.

Finally, she pushed her plate back, wiped her lips and drew in a deep breath. “What was that?” she asked sternly. Before I could utter a response, she followed with, “That may have been the worst ever.”

“You didn’t like it?” I said, asking the obvious.

“Umm … that’s a definite no.”

I was puzzled at her reaction, but realized that I was to cooking what Britney Spears is to motherhood, and let the jibes pass.

Kim began delousing the rubble that had once been our cookware while I looked at her expectantly. Suddenly, she blurted out, “You weren’t good, dawg!”

And with that statement, I finally realized that the next season of American Idol was underway. I guess I’m not the only one watching too much TV.