30 January 2009

The Stranger

A few years before I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mum taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first league football ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mum would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honour them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home... Not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol.. But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished.. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced - strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents and myself yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' house today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name?..... .. . Television

He has a wife now.....We call her 'Computer.'

How do you view that 'Fat Controller' in your house? I am glad when it is Summer and we can sit outside and chew the fat, not goggle at the box in the corner..


Elaine said...

I find it something of a blessing that I cannot watch television because I am deaf. I moved to DVDs with soundtrack, but have just noticed that I have not watched even one in at least a year.

People are good, newspapers give information, bridge keeps the grey cells ticking over and books are my addiction.

Anonymous said...

Wow, amazing analogy!!! I like it, I like it a lot.

I owe you a prize by the way :)

Dark Side said...

I admit it I watch far too much of it, you had me gripped to the end of the post though as to what it was....xx

Kathy G said...

Very interesting. I went back and re-read it after I got to the punch line, and it made even more sense.

Anonymous said...

I wondered where that was going. Great analogy though!

And oh so true!


Annette said...

You had me spellbound, I could not work out who this stranger was. The punchline was fantastic and it quite took my breath away.Why didn't I realise what you were talking about?
Brilliant piece of writing.

Anonymous said...

I actually really don't watch TV at all. Save for my favorite show LOST, but I am holding off to watch this season until Christopher gets back.

Granted, there are a handful of shows I really do enjoy, I would pick music and books over TV any day and well the internet, now that's a whole different story.
But at least I can listen to music while I Blog; so I can enjoy two activities at once!

bubby hoen said...

Wise Herb,
Someone sent me a copy of this posting and I have been trying to locate the author. Would that be you. I am a teacher and would like to present it to my students, but I like to give the students the names of the authors of things that I present. Can you provide that information to me. My email is MagerL@HAC1.org
Thank you.