As kids growing up in North Carolina in the 1980s, it was the truly the time for box TVs. You know the old- school crate type TVs. Well ours was an RCA and its cluckniness was no exception. This beast was fuzzy too. We had ten channels. We were only allowed to watch PBS, channel 13 and other than that was the Wonderful World of Disney. If we only knew then about Disney what we know now! Anyway if our folks stepped out, the rule was no television. Now our folks had a Rocket car... A red Volvo ... A fiery little thing that spewed plumes of smoke as it backfired. Hence the name rocket car. It was so embarrassing that thing was. However we graduated that when a local couple bestowed upon my parents their used car for Christmas. Now you maybe wondering what on earth these two cars have to do with our television. EVERYTHING.
You see with the rocket car our folks could go run their errands and our eldest sister could lead us astray as we reveled in the forbidden world of "no television allowed". We strained our eyes through MTV and VH1 complete with The Real World, Ren & Stimpy, The Simpsons, Carmen Electra and Madonna's music videos. anything that was off-limits were so watched. The rocket car was so loud you could literally hear that thing half a block away roaring up the street as it backfired. PACKOW! chugga chugga chugga chugga...PACKOW! Zzzzzzznnnnnnnnn..chug chug put put put. That was our queue to shut that box off. We'd spring into action. My elder sister, the one who was supposed to have been left in charge would flop on the couch with her favorite blanket and a book. I would either start drawing or start playing with some toys or find my younger sister to play with. She'd been kicked out the living room by my older sister because of course she was the tattletale. However there was this one telltale sign that the TV had been on and that was a red dot that appeared in the middle of the screen as soon as you shut the TV off. This spherical glowing ember would slowly become smaller until the screen went entirely blank. hank you rocket car for being the cue. This was absolutely not the case with the Christmas gift from my parents' dear friends. Oh no. That blue car was golden. Not a sound did it make as it hummed efficiently whilst in transit. We never knew our parents were coming until they were already in the driveway. This glaring red dot would only disappear after roughly two minutes or so. We figured out if we rubbed the middle of the screen it would get smaller more quickly; or so we thought.
Well, one day it happened. Mom and dad returned after a couple hours of television revelry. That silent blue vehicle swiftly rounding the bend. We didn't see it until it was already half way down the driveway. You could see our hearts pounding straight out of our chests. The TV was turned off, the remote was put back where it was left before they went out. We had the 'screen-rubber', the 'on-the-couch-book-reader' and the 'beat-it-and-play-with your-toys-in-the-back-or-else' roles all in place. If my memory serves me correctly, we even switched roles to act as a decoy running out to mom and dad acting excited and interested, questioning and trying to see what was in the car and help them take things out; trying to have meaningful and philosophical conversations with them in the kitchen while we robbed that dot of its glory. You see at the end of the driveway was the entrance to the home. Inside was the dining room, then the kitchen. Make a right you're looking at the hallway closet. Take a few steps and you're standing in the hallway which spanned left to right. To your left were the bedrooms and bathrooms, to the right the living room and of course in the living room seated on the television stand was ole' mister red dot smiling at you in the middle of the box we called TV.
When we realized that it was not getting any smaller in the expected two minutes that had passed, my elder sister got up and began to act like she was cleaning the television strategically standing in front of the damning red eye. We must've seen so lame to our parents, older, wiser, experienced who could actually see through our façade with such transparency. As our dad turned the corner the question he always asked when he returned home was poised,
"Was the TV on? Did you watch the television while we were gone? "
"No daddy," we lied.
"(Insert younger sister's name) was the television on?"
Of course she couldn't answer that question because she wasn't there. She was in the back playing. Oh, Boss in Charge made sure of that.
"I don't know" or "no" was her response.
Certain that the red dot had obliterated into pixel dust, my older sister stopped faking the funk of cleaning the TV stand I went to sit on the couch and read her book.
"Be sure your sins will find you out," my mom chimed peering at the screen's center.
There is the middle of the screen was the smallest speck of a red dot. But my mom's eye caught it. Dad also felt the TV. Hot. Of course we were grounded for lying and deceitfulness.
The point is that we didn't need to wait until we heard the rocket car coming up the road and we didn't have to wait until we saw the blue car approaching to get right. We didn't have to wait until we knew the parents were close or that they had arrived and we didn't have to play things off and act the fool. I cannot remember anything that we watched on that television being of any emotional, psychological or spiritual edification to us at all whatsoever. All I remember is feeling this crushing overwhelming desperate feeling that I'm caught, I'm in a corner feeling you get. Guilt. And while we tried to cover up for what we did, the truth was as plain as the red dot on the television's face.
Do not let this be your fate. Don't wait until you see the signs of Christ's soon return to all of a sudden try to get right when you've been living a life of willful sinning. If this is what has happened to you then get right and stay right. Do not be the type of Christian that lives in complacency and slips and then sins as a treat or a reward for good Christianly behavior. Never let yourself go and slip into a moment that is similar to having a cheat meal on a diet. Don't be a red dot Christian.