My Formative Years

I did not grow up watching television. My father refused to have a set in the house until we all left home because he did not want us to have that sort of influence in our lives. Some of my siblings went to a friend’s house after school to watch, but I didn’t. Any free time I had — then and now — I spent reading. Consequently, it’s given me a different worldview from most people my age (and younger) because we had completely different influences in our formative years. Well, our early formative years. As far as I can see, I am still in my formative years, though I can’t really say what I’m being formed into. I just know that I am not yet a finished product.

Despite my disclaimer of not watching television, over the years I have managed to get a sampling of the programming I missed. One such program was “All in the Family.” I think about this particular show whenever I put on my socks and shoes. (It seems odd to say socks and shoes rather than shoes and socks, but since socks go on first, it seems as if “socks” should be listed first.) The episode I saw was Archie Bunker berating his son-in-law (at least, that’s who I think the younger man was) about the way he put on his socks and shoes. Like me, the young fellow put a sock and shoe on one foot, and then put a sock and shoe on the other foot. I’m not sure why the character put his shoes on that way, but for me, now that I’m getting older, it’s simply easier to do one foot at a time.

It’s weird to think that putting a foot on a knee, pulling on a sock, then putting the foot down, putting the other foot on a knee, pulling on that sock, then putting that foot down, and then repeating all that motion to put on shoes has become so arduous that it’s simply easier to do one foot at a time. Yet, for me, it is so.

Still, Archie Bunker wouldn’t approve; he claimed it was a stupid way to put on socks and shoes. “What if the second sock has a hole in it?” he asked his son-in-law to the accompaniment of a raucous laugh track. “Then you’d have to take off the first shoe and sock and do it all over again.”

Even though he does have a point, I continue do it the “wrong” way, at least according to Archie. There have been times the second sock did have a hole in it, so I’d limp to my dresser — one shoe on and one shoe off — and drag out another sock. Luckily, I buy socks in batches, so chances are there will be another matching sock in the sock drawer, but if there isn’t, I’ll wear an unmatched sock of the same color because really, if anyone is close enough to my feet to notice that two white or two black socks don’t exactly match, then I have a greater problem than unpaired socks. On occasion, though, I do take off the shoe to go get another sock, but that’s because I don’t like tracking dirt around the house, and has nothing to do with the right sequence of putting on shoes and socks.

Come to think of it, perhaps my father had the right idea about no television. If a single episode of a single show has this sort of influence, I can’t imagine what a steady diet of television programming would have done to me in my formative years.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

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9 Responses to “My Formative Years”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Well, if you want the answer to that, just look at me. I got a lot of TV growing up, and it’s played a major part in my own storytelling. Especially the anime.

  2. Estragon Says:

    Although I grew up watching television, there wasn’t a lot to watch. What there was though, was a bit of a window on how other people lived.

    The debate about socks and shoes would have been (and somewhat is) rather foreign. We (or at least I) put socks on when putting on other daytime clothing, generally when getting out of bed. Most of the year, it’s cold enough to more or less require socks. We (or at least I) don’t wear shoes indoors, and the outdoor footwear requirements tend to be quite different from the indoors for most of the year, and the outdoors tend to be much messier than indoors for most of the year. We (I) put on shoes, appropriate for the weather of the day, at the front door when leaving the house, and likewise take them off at the front door when coming inside.

    I don’t watch much television any more, mostly because there isn’t much interesting to watch. The window into how other people live in that medium seems to be so spun, so one-dimensional, so obviously tailored to the expectations of the prospective audience, as to be mostly a waste of time. All In The Family was a show that took some chances in its day. There are some still doing that, but precious few. I also consider these to be my formative years.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I don’t wear shoes in the house, either, and put them on only when I leave, though I do wear slippers in the winter.

      One of my favorite pieces of furniture is a shoe bench by my back door. It has nooks for all my shoes and a place to sit when I put them on.

  3. Treve Brown Says:

    On YouTube Pat!

  4. Uthayanan Says:

    Me and my wife did not grow up watching television. Nobody to blame because it helped me to interested my studies read a lot and to play many sports as possible and extra school activists and other activities made my childhood very happy. We bought our first television after 13 years of marriage to see cassettes, DVD’s, and now blu-ray’s for the language interest, loisirs and studies. Never with internet. Because it was very expensive and not easy to buy professional screens.
    We never interested every day programs. Some people were shocked that we never use our television to see programs.
    Even I continue pay tax for the television it was off for the last three years. I have a good collection of films more than four languages.
    After my wife’s departure it is difficult to see even one film. I have tried and failed.
    Life is like that and I leave it as it is.
    I have lot of socks because of sports bought a lot of white socks for the sports so no problem for the matching.
    l have lot of socks and love to put socks to match with my pants. But I am not crazy or maniac.
    I use slippers at home. I never wear shoes in the house. Different slippers inside and outside my house. I like very much japanese culture in this aspect so to my visiteurs I give to wear inside my house like in Japanese culture. Naturally they accept with pleasure.
    In some cases there is always exceptions.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      All I use my television for is to watch the movies and shows that Jeff taped over the years. It’s funny, but I could watch those tapes, but I couldn’t read. Now I can read again, but I can’t watch his tapes.

      I like your idea of providing slippers for visitors. Mostly I just have people take off their shoes, though I don’t always ask them to do it.

  5. Joe Says:

    I got rid of my TV service after he died. I have a television, but only for watching movies, and that’s a rare occasion. There’s nothin’ on, anyway.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The first thing I did after Jeff died was get rid of the TV service. Something was always going wrong, and I hated dealing with those people. I actually own two TV’s, but I only use them to watch the movies he collected, though I think it’s been more than a year since either one have been turned on.

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