Friday, January 23, 2009

Flashback Friday: Stranger in the dark

For a good portion of my teenage years, my father was the Bishop of our Mormon ward, or church congregation. This is just a little fact you need to know for the punchline of this story, which takes place on a dark (but not necessarily stormy) night during my awkward Junior High School years.

My entire family was watching a movie in the family room at the back of our house, adjacent to the kitchen. All of the lights were off, and the seven of us were splayed across the L-shaped couch arrangement and scattered over the floor with heavy blankets, fixated on the glowing TV screen positioned in the corner of the room.

We rented a lot of movies in my youth. Let's face it: theatre tickets for a family of seven would never support my dad's successful quest to be The Millionaire Next Door. My family has always enjoyed the liberty afforded by small-screen viewing by taking full advantage of the freedom to move around or get up and fix a snack.

This inability to stay focused on a movie from start to finish is a trait that has remained with most of my family members, and also one that drives my husband crazy. He prefers not to watch movies at my parents' house because they seem to lack the capability to watch attentively, and it is distracting. My mom often does projects or irons during movies (she trained me to be a multi-tasker too, what can I say?), my dad usually drifts in and out of the room, and since there are usually children in the house, interruption for a snack request or bedtime infraction are inevitable. Sometimes my dad gets a hankering to make a mid-movie treat, and we push pause while the blender whiiiirs up a delicious milkshake. This disruption I don't usually mind.

The forgettable movie ended, and the lights flicked on. It only took a few moments for our eyes to adjust and discover that there were now eight people in our small family room. The bright lights revealed that the cream and brown striped glider at the exposed end of the couch was now occupied, but not by a restless member of our family. He was a young man, attractive, but a complete stranger to everyone in the room.

Someone cautiously greeted the stranger, probably my ever-friendly mother. One of my ultimate fears involves someone breaking into our house, but the idea that this man represented such a danger never crossed my mind. After all, he politely watched the movie with us (How much of it? I can't help but wonder), and he looked about as confused as we must have.

I listened curiously as the puzzle was slowly pieced together. The man said he was looking for the Bishop's house. My parents exchanged a comprehending glance.

"I'm the Bishop," my father said tentatively. He may have been, as I was, wondering how this strange young man had found his home, and what help he could need so desperately that he would seek it from him at such a late hour.

The man only looked more confused at my dad's response. It turns out, he wasn't looking for the Bishop's house. He was looking for the Bishops' house. The careful placement of an apostrophe can make a giant difference, however verbally incommunicable.

I learned that night that our next door neighbors' last name was Bishop. The young man wasn't very familiar with their home, and accidentally wandered into ours by mistake. He quietly slipped into an available seat, then graciously remained unobtrusive until the credits were rolling. Our customary shifting around explains why nobody noticed the new arrival during the movie, but it is still a bit unnerving that a stranger wandered through our unlocked door and joined our company utterly undetected. Perhaps the movie's plot was outrageously compelling.

The coincedence of their name makes the experience that much more entertaining, but I doubt if our accidental visitor really got that part of the joke. I just hope that the Bishops weren't worried about their friend for too long before he made his tardy entrance...with quite a story to tell.


Jennifer said...

This story has always cracked me up. Well told. :)

Bridget said...

Freaky! What a polite intruder.

Annie said...

ROFL! I can just see your Mother beging so polite, even to an intruder. She's a lady! No doubt about it!

Annie said...

Oops typo alert! I meant to type "being"

Annie said...

Oh, I've given you an award.

GrandmaW said...

This story is definitely a "keeper" in our family history book. Well-written and well-remembered.


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