John-Henry Westen

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The stranger in our home

John-Henry Westen

Every once in a while those anonymous emails we receive is worthy of republishing…

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.

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 long time 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.’
He has a wife  now….we call her ‘Computer.’ 
Their child is “Cell Phone”.

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