06/13/2006 - 8:24 a.m.


The children are gone for most of the summer but there is no getting away from them. The ways in which they intrude into our lives are, well, unexpected. No, I am not talking about the phone call from a Kat in ditz mode who needed her boyfriend's telephone number because she wrote it down but forgot to take the paper with her. That call was very brief and not much of an intrusion. Instead, I am talking about the messages from the television. Just ask FogieKnight.

Until last night, I thought that hearing voices on the television speaking only to you was a sign of mental illness. I've known many people who think that their television is speaking only to them---but they are all my clients with "mental health issues" as lawyers tend to phrase it. (Personally, I prefer having problems to having issues but I may be in the minority.) But what happened last night can only feed any paranoia FogieKnight may have. Worse, it reinforces his view that the world revolves around him and that the whole world is some elaborate figment of his imagination. (Although that view may be beginning to affect me too. I have considered asking him to imagine me a few pounds lighter or, better yet, exercising more often.)

In a sense, it was my fault. I went into the bedroom to change for bed and flicked on the small, ancient black-and-white television in there. Our local PBS station came on with a local program about the history of summer camps in Wisconsin. The program talked about the back-to-nature movement of the late 1800s, of the origins of the "Indian" trend in summer camps, and of the World War I origins of emphases on inspections, flag ceremonies, and other such. The program focused a lot on Y camps. Sometime during the program, FogieKnight came by and was mesmerized too.

Neither of us were surprised when the program did a segment on the camp that the girls are both working at. The camp appeared in a segment that spoke of the uses of the summer camp beyond simply the summer camp sessions. It appeared in a segment about the Y guides program (or what used to be known as "Indian Guides.") We pointed out the places we had just seen on Sunday and listened to the director talk about the camp.

And then it happened. The message just for FogieKnight came on. I was very glad that he had not been drinking anything because, if he had, it would have sprayed across the room. I have rarely seen him react so physically to a message. He could not believe it. He was shaking his head. He was laughing. He was even babbling.

How could they have known three years ago when the program was made? How could they have known that Kat would be scheduled to work as a clerk for FogieKnight, Attorney at Law, and then get a sudden offer to work at camp? How could they have known that she would take it? And how could they offer this message in a segment on camp counselors?

And what was this message? This message was that, even though being a camp counselor was a lot of work with little off time, it built more responsibility and was much more interesting than working as a clerk for a lawyer.

Okay, so it was not much of a message. But it impressed FogieKnight.

I sure hope that someday, when the television speaks to me, it has something more interesting to say.

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