…during my last visit he told me that my nephew no longer liked being downstairs by himself. He used to stay down and watch TV or whatever, but now he won't do any activities downstairs alone (TV room is in the basement) .
Dad wondered why things changed for my nephew, who is now twelve; why did he become uncomfortable downstairs alone?
My Dad tried to laugh off my suggestion by insisting that my nephew wouldn't be scared of anything he saw on TV. My nephew understood how television worked and that there was nothing real inside that box.
"Ha!!" I told him. "When you're a kid and see some scary on TV and you're the last one out of the TV room —"
"What do you mean the last one out?"
"You think my brothers wanted to be the last one out? And because I usually watched TV while laying on the floor they would get out first."
"The three of you raced to be the first one out?"
"No. We raced to not be the last one out?"
"(Older brother) won the most, then (little brother) and then me; but only because I was the farthest from the door. (Little brother) would lose a lot, too."
Dad kept listening.
"So when I was the last one out I'd have to turn off the TV, then the lamp, and be the farthest away from my bedroom in a very dark house. And I couldn't even run to my room because I had to pass your room on the way.
(The brothers shared a room across the hallway from Mom and Dad's room. My room was at the back of the house past the kitchen and bathroom.)
"I can't believe you kids did that," says Dad.
"So when I was the last one out I would turn off the TV, change the channel, back away from the TV to the lamp, turn the lamp off, back out of the TV room and then hurry to my own room."
(Of course Dad had to know why I changed the channel after turning off the TV!)
"You have to change the channel," I leaned in and whispered, "after you turn off the TV so whatever scared you can't get out of the TV to come get you. You change the channel to trap it inside the TV."
"What twelve year old thinks of stuff like that," Dad is laughing an shaking his head.
"I was only ten years old! Poor (nephew) has lots more scary things to see on TV than this ten year old ever did."
"Did your brothers do that?"
"I don't know what my brothers did. I think you had to make your own TV magic and stuff."
"There are rules?"
"Didn't you make up all kinds of rules when you were a kid?"
"I can't remember," says Dad.
"I just thought of something! That old magic wouldn't even work on today's TV's because now the television is really always on the same channel."
Dad is laughing again.
"My nephew is doomed."