I am a part of all that I have met.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, poet (1809-1892)
A few years after I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. 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 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, yet he was seldom rebuked. And NEVER asked to leave.
More than 50 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.
We just call him TV.
He has a wife now. We call her Computer.
Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade in public. Never clothe them in vulgar and shoddy attire. – George W. Crane
He was the Greek fellow from two millennia ago who is reputed to have wandered the streets of his hometown of Athens in broad daylight with his night lamp in hand. To the curious who asked what he was up to, he replied he was seeking one man of reason and virtue, an honest man.
Well, the story continues. It seems two French gendarmes spotted him in Paris and asked the lamp-bearing, toga-garbed wise man what he was doing there.
“Messiers,” he is said to have replied, ” I am still trying to find an honest man.”
Later, two Bobbies spotted him in London, and went through the same process.
Next it was New York’s turn. A couple of New York’s finest stopped him and asked the familiar question, “I suppose you’re still looking for an honest man?”
His reply, “I was, but now I’m looking for my lamp.”
I wonder what the Mounties will tell him when he comes here.
A tip of the hat to rain, rain, wherever you are! And to the author of The Stranger, currently identified as that prolific person Anonymous, for such an interesting and incisive way of getting the point across.