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.

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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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