September 10, 2009

Strange Looks

By now, I'm used to the strange looks: the looks that come when I'm walking down the street, and a friend driving by pulls over and offers to give me a lift, and I say, "no thanks, I'd rather walk;" the looks that come when I take used 8 ½ x 11 paper that has been printed on one side, cut it in half, and hand-write my sermons on the blank sides before typing them into the computer; the looks that come when I'm offered a soda, and I ask for water instead, insisting that I really do prefer water to soda; the looks that come when people find out that I don't have cable or satellite TV, and wouldn't want it even if it was free.

When it comes to TV, most of the strange looks I get come from my wife and kids. This has become a source of debate in our family. Ginger, I suspect, wants Lifetime and HBO and channels that have shows that go behind the scenes of Twilight and New Moon. The kids, being 8 and 12, aren't sure if they want Disney Channel or MTV, but are certain that having both would be far better than having neither.

All three of them point out that there will also be plenty of the "boring documentaries" that I like to watch.

They're right. With all those channels, there will be lots of shows that I would like. However, there will also be lots of shows that do nothing for me, but which I'll watch anyway. And if I watch all those shows, I won't have time to walk places.

As summer vacation was drawing to a close, the kids spent a lot of time playing with other kids on our street. Sometimes, they went over to their friends' houses to do things they couldn't do at home: watch cable TV and play video games.

More often, though, all those neighbor kids ended up here, at our house, despite our limited electric entertainment opportunities. They rode their bikes out front, played with legos on the living room floor, created skits which they then performed, played games that they had invented themselves, and spread blankets on the front lawn after dinner so they could stargaze.

One evening I joined them. I pointed out to them the Summer Triangle, about the only thing that could be seen through the urban light pollution. I identified for them Altair, Deneb, and Vega. They gazed upward in wonder, and forgot all about giving me strange looks.

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