Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Stranger in our Midst

A few years after 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:
Mom 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 major league
ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never
stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom 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 honor 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, 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' den 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?.... .. .

We just call him 'TV.'

(Note: This should be required reading for every household in the world!)

P.S. He has a wife now...We call her 'Computer’


  1. WWW, you had me hooked there, you cheeky thing. I kept thinking, WWW wasn't raised in Texas, how did she have a stranger in her family etc, yet I never twigged who or what the stranger was.

  2. I took out the reference, Hull, let's keep future readers guessing a little more.
    I've no idea who wrote the piece but it is rather brilliant, isn't it?

  3. I too was hooked. My dad fought against him for many years, then became the greatest victim of the storyteller.

  4. GM:
    Twinned again, my da too. And in later years he became a two fisted remote control pilot.

  5. Clever - and true, WWW!

    Now, as well as a wife he has kids called Blackberry and Ipod who follow the family around wherever they go - never safe from constant chatter/twitter. ;-)

  6. The stranger wasn't allowed in our house until I went to boarding school. (Something about me and homework never done - which is not unconnected with shipping me off to BS!) But then he moved in and took over my family. Before the family home was sold, clones of the stranger had taken up residence in every room in the house. And there were a lot of rooms in our house ...

  7. Okay, here's the thing: I love your stories. Your posts have me thinking in ways that make me think I don't have to think when all the while I'm thinking about these things you discuss that are in serious need of thought. And that's all good. But why on earth don't you have a "Subscribe" - or at least an "RSS" - somewhere on your blog so I don't have to consciously think about where to find you? - Gail

  8. Tessa:
    Wehn you put it this way, doesn't it sound like an infectious disease.
    And of course it is!!

  9. Gail:
    this stuff baffles me, do you have any idea how I can do it.
    I went into 'feeds' in my template but don't know where to take it from there!!


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