The Day We Lost Oxygen

By Ryan Clark

The day we lost Oxygen,
I felt free, alive, like
anything was possible.

At least I did for a few moments.

I came in the door to find
my wife on the couch,
a look of horror on her face,
like something sacred
had been taken away.
It was only Oxygen, after all,
but it did give us the nourishment
of “The Bad Girls Club” and
“America’s Next Top Model,”
the nutrients of
“Talk Sex” and “Snapped,”

and the replenishing minerals of
“Dance Your Ass Off” and
“Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.”
Ah, Oxygen. Breathe deep.

But one day, one
blessed day, our local
cable company restructured,
adding some stations,
taking others away.
Oxygen was kicked to the curb –
like Valerie Bertinelli when
she got divorced in the O film,
“What She Doesn’t Know.”
Similarly, my wife seemed
lost, searching for another
channel, 1 to 100.

Inside I cheered,
not wanting to show
the pleasure I took
from her pain.

Against my better
judgment I suggested
Lifetime as a replacement.

My wife said she’d seen
enough movies starring
Meredith Baxter-Birney.
The CW?

No good.


Get serious.


Do not make my wife laugh.

“I used to laugh,” she said,
“back when I watched
‘The Janice Dickinson
Modeling Agency.’”

Back when we had Oxygen.

So she continued to channel-flip,
milk-sour to the point of miserable,
when she saw a commercial

for another network.

There were vampires.
And violence.
And brief nudity.

Her eyes got wide
and I let out a sigh,
a long, exasperated
carbon dioxide emission.

She turned to me and smiled,
and I knew then, knew that “the
day we lost Oxygen” had become
the day we would purchase that
other, more necessary, element of life: