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the beginning of something, or proof that i wrote tonight

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I wrote a bit last week about how much I’ve been listening to NPR lately, but I don’t think I wrote about how much smarter it’s made me feel. I’ve always been self conscious of my intellect. I know that part of it is directly related to the way I was brought up. Picture this:

It’s suppertime. Nineteen-eighty-something. Rural South Carolina. I am maybe 12 or 13, probably a little younger. Here is my sister, four years older. Here is my brother, four years younger. Mom and Dad at opposite ends of the table. My father’s end is known as the ‘head.’ We know this is the head of the table because it is the only spot you can sit in and get a full view of the TV in the living room. Suppertime is quiet. Forks and knives are in conversation with each other, but my family says nothing. The news is on. The only person who gets to speak during the news is my father. If he initiates conversation with you during the news, pond you respond. But briefly. If you are asked a question, you respond with ‘yes, sir’ or ‘no, sir.’

If the nightly news is over and the local news is on, it is sometimes okay to speak, especially during the sports and weather. We all are quite good at having conversations during commercials, too.

On some nights, though, there is little news. Not much has happened in the world on, say, a Friday evening, and my father is a little more relaxed knowing he won’t have to work quite as long tomorrow, and that he will likely have Sunday off. Maybe he drinks a beer. Maybe we have pizza, or cheap frozen seafood.

He asks a question, some sort of trivia, usually having something to do with something that was on the news earlier that week. Or maybe he asks a question about history, or social studies. Usually it is something I know.

This is a game. This is the game my family plays when the news is over and we are still eating and we can talk.

The question is not asked of one of us, but of all of us. It is ‘Quick! Who knows__________?’

I usually know the answer. Sometimes, though, it’s best if I just stay quiet.

Sometimes my sister will guess. And often she is not right. My father laughs at her. Thinking we should do what he does, my brother and I laugh at her too. She was wrong. If you are wrong, you are laughed at.

I wrote a bit last week about how much I’ve been listening to NPR lately, but I don’t think I wrote about how much smarter it’s made me feel. I’ve always been self conscious of my intellect. I know that part of it is directly related to the way I was brought up. Picture this:

It’s suppertime. Nineteen-eighty-something. Rural South Carolina. I am maybe 12 or 13, probably a little younger. Here is my sister, four years older. Here is my brother, four years younger. Mom and Dad at opposite ends of the table. My father’s end is known as the ‘head.’ We know this is the head of the table because it is the only spot you can sit in and get a full view of the TV in the living room. Suppertime is quiet. Forks and knives are in conversation with each other, but my family says nothing. The news is on. The only person who gets to speak during the news is my father. If he initiates conversation with you during the news, pond you respond. But briefly. If you are asked a question, you respond with ‘yes, sir’ or ‘no, sir.’

 

If the nightly news is over and the local news is on, it is sometimes okay to speak, especially during the sports and weather. We all are quite good at having conversations during commercials, too.

On some nights, though, there is little news. Not much has happened in the world on, say, a Friday evening, and my father is a little more relaxed knowing he won’t have to work quite as long tomorrow, and that he will likely have Sunday off. Maybe he drinks a beer. Maybe we have pizza, or cheap frozen seafood.

He asks a question, some sort of trivia, usually having something to do with something that was on the news earlier that week. Or maybe he asks a question about history, or social studies. Usually it is something I know.

This is a game. This is the game my family plays when the news is over and we are still eating and we can talk.

The question is not asked of one of us, but of all of us. It is ‘Quick! Who knows__________?’

I usually know the answer. Sometimes, though, it’s best if I just stay quiet.

Sometimes my sister will guess. And often she is not right. My father laughs at her. Thinking we should do what he does, my brother and I laugh at her too. She was wrong. If you are wrong, you are laughed at.

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Author: Kim Sharp

more later

One thought on “the beginning of something, or proof that i wrote tonight

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