This story about a three-year-old who wanted and had the News Hour with Jim Lehrer as the theme for his birthday party reminds me of the realizations I've been having as I grow up of what a weird, boring kid I was.
First of all, I think you could call me a "dam enthusiast." My grandparents live in The Dalles, OR, with a view of the Dalles Dam on the Columbia river. When I would stay there, I remember spending long moments at night looking at all the lights sparkling on it, really awed by its beauty. I also spent many childhood birthdays there and always asked to go on the tour of the dam for my birthday. There was a train that would take you to a park just below the dam that had a pond with ducks and fish, and we'd have a picnic lunch there. Then we'd catch the next train to ride past the water rushing through the spillway. there was almost always a rainbow in the splashing water. Then we'd go inside the dam to see the turbines and hear about the power being generated by their noisy spinning. I realize that it's kind of weird, but I really cherish these memories. And even to this day, I am generally impressed whenever I see a big dam on a big river, even knowing their salmonicidal effects. The reservoir behind the Dalles Dam actually covers up the gorgeous Celilo Falls where the local indians used to stand over the rushing falls on rickety platforms to fish for salmon. The photos and documentaries about this always struck me as poignant, but it never occurred to me that they might not have built the dam.
Another weird-dorky thing I did in elementary school was become obsessed with NPR's Talk of the Nation. Our local NPR station would rebroadcast it from 10:00 until midnight, and I'd lie awake in bed listening to the show. I've always been a kind of nervous insomniac, so I was really glad to have that company at night when most kids would be sleeping. In sixth grade, not only did I have a crush on Ray Suarez, but I also wrote a poem about the music (which has since changed).
Okay, so I was kind of a loner.