This thing my wife has for Regis Philbin has been very difficult for me, although I like to think I've handled it as well as any man could, given the circumstances.
Occasionally, it gets to me, though, like the time she was watching "Regis and Pinky Lee" (or whatever it's called) and started gushing about Regis' new blazer.
Personally, I didn't think it did anything for the man, except make him look even boxier than usual.
A man with that sort of Fred Flintstone-like build should avoid checkered patterns and plaids and stick to the darker colors -- Navy blue, maroon, etc. Gives you a more streamlined look, or so they say.
"You really think that salmon color works for him?" I said at one point.
"A real man is not afraid to wear salmon," she said.
"Well," I said, "you heard about Regis beating up his mother."
"Oh, yeah. Apparently he used to smack her around quite a bit. Once he tossed her down a flight of stairs."
None of this was true, of course. Well, I shouldn't say that.
Let's put it this way: I had no proof of it being true. But I was tired of hearing about how swell Regis looked in his damn blazer. So now it was time to fight back the only way I knew how, with lies and cheap-shot innuendo.
"Regis would never do anything like that," said my wife, opening a magazine and signaling the conversation to a close.
Regis would never do anything like that! That's something else that irritates me: this whole, cozy first-name basis.
When I watch someone on TV like, oh, Faith Daniels -- who happens to be a very attractive woman, by the way -- you don't hear me say: "Boy, Faith just had a neat piece on Hemingway's relationship with Spain."
Yet around my house it's always "Regis this" and "Regis that" until you just want to . . .
As I say, the whole thing has been very difficult, perhaps even more so because of the mystifying nature of the attraction.
If she had a thing for, I don't know . . . Clint Eastwood, you could understand it.
You look at Clint Eastwood and you think: OK. The guy still has it. The whipcord tough bod, the chiseled features, the twin slits of coal for eyes. You can see how a woman could be drawn to a man like that.
But Regis Philbin . . . I just don't get it.
For those who might view this as sour grapes, let me say for the record that I like Regis Philbin, and have been largely able to overlook his reported disdain for family values and indifference to the homeless.
(Speaking of which, I understand he recently had bought a new home in a posh, secluded neighborhood in Connecticut. You wonder why a big-shot talk show host would make such a move, unless he had something to hide.)
Well, there's no point getting into all that now. Suffice it to say that I once watched "Regis and Sarah Lee" with a psychiatrist friend of mine who offered a startling opinion of Mr. Philbin.
As soon as Regis appeared on the screen, this shrink sat bolt upright in his chair and said -- these are his words, not mine -- "That man is a walking time bomb."
Still, none of that seems to matter to my wife, who continues with her unseemly infatuation toward a man who stands barely 64 inches tall.
Her latest crusade is to land tickets to the "Regis and Janet Leigh" show, which is how she spent a good deal of her time during our recent trip to New York.
Having lived and worked in the city for many years, my time was naturally spent trying to avoid the muggers and crack dealers and various other forms of death that await visitors to the Big Apple.
That took most of my energy, as did trying to understand the cab drivers, all of whom seemed to answer to "Raji" while having a last name that, on their hack license anyway, looked suspiciously like the atomic symbol for magnesium.
My wife, on the other hand, spent her time on the phone with everyone who could possibly help her scrounge a pass to "Regis and Peggy Lee."
Call me a killjoy, but I just don't understand the attraction of sitting in a cold, cramped studio watching a small, nervous man in a boxy sport coat sipping coffee.
Hell, I told her, you want to see that, I'll bring you into the newsroom and you can watch my editors.
This one editor even looks a little bit like Regis -- especially when the light catches him just so.