We were a Little league family. My older brother played first base while I mostly played outfield. Our league—located caddy-corner to Pierce College in Woodland Hills—provided a social network for us, and my parents developed strong ties with some of the other parents of my brother’s teammates. The adults often got together for sushi and other dining-out experiences parents have. One of the benefits of this particular cluster of families was that one of them had a daughter that was old enough to watch over the rest of us. Nothing like a built-in babysitter when four families wanted to have a Saturday night away from the kids. I don’t remember just how happy the daughter was about this, but she was left with six kids in her charge (of which I was the youngest by a couple years). I’m guessing they all the chipped in some cash.
This was during the early 80s (when music was huge in my life), and cable TV (ON TV, specifically) was a big deal. The house where the kids had gathered had this cable channel, which was especially great for me, because, aside from movies, this cable channel showed Duran Duran’s racier videos for songs such as “Girls on Film.” I didn’t understand why I was shooed away when my favorite band’s videos aired. When I finally caught one of the videos, I didn’t understand why the topless women were oil wrestling while the band played. Nor did I care. And why were the other guys so interested? I didn’t think any of them liked Duran Duran.
ON TV also aired late night “adult” films on Saturdays.
Exercising good judgment, the other kids, who were close to 13 or already there, decided I should play poker on the Apple II C instead of watching—I was, after all, too young and wouldn’t understand. Plus, I would probably open my mouth to my parents.
Although I had no idea what the fuss was about, I started crying—I hated being excluded, especially when I didn’t understand why. I also hated the fact that these other kids were telling me what to do. Turns out, if you cry enough, kids relent. And so, along with the other kids, I watched, and failed to see what the big deal was. That’s what they didn’t want me to see? Life went on.
As I’ve read through The Old Testament thus far—particularly 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 chronicles—I can’t help but wonder what all the fuss is about with these other gods, particularly Baal. Much space is devoted to how bad these Gods are, as represented in the high places, incense altars, cast idols to Baal, Asherah poles (which sound oddly similar to what Mr. Costanza’s Festivus poles), but we never really know what all the fuss is about—except some ask for child sacrifice. That, I understand.
Given that so many people stray from God throughout the Old Testament, I would like to know why. What was so alluring? What did those gods offer the people that they thought God didn’t—or was easier than God… whatever. I’m okay with not understanding, but if I get the chance, I at least want a peek. And if I don’t I’ll keep feeling like I’m missing out on something important.
Next: The Book of Ezra.