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Five Syllables in Wallpaper
by Albino Finch

It is no coincidence that the English language has not developed the phrase "unique as a suburban family." The Johnson's were one of the many reasons behind this interesting phenomenon. Just look at their name. I don't think I need explain any further.
There was one unusual thing about the Johnson clan which was not commonplace in Anytown, North America. It was this:
At four o'clock, the children came home from school. No, this is not unusual. I am getting to that. There were 2.4 of them. One was a boy, the other a girl. They turned on the television, sat on the sofa, and watched it (the TV, not the sofa). What was odd was the manner in which they did it. They never talked or moved. Their eyes rested on the picture tube with perfect complacency, much like dead sheep.
Mom and dad came home at six and joined the children, so the family ended up looking like a bunch of corpses whom somebody had set up on the couches and put little machines in their heads to make them blink once in a while, so they had that "almost alive" look of the mechanical animals at Disney World.
Dinnertimes were as follows:
"I'm hungry," someone would state, not taking their eyes of the TV.
The rest of the family would agree. "Me too," they said.
"Why doesn't somebody cook dinner?"
Somebody else would volunteer. "Next commercial."
When a commercial came around, the person who committed themselves to cooking earlier would state, "Oooh, I like this one," and the matter was dropped entirely.
Needless to say, breakfast and lunch were the only meals the Johnson's ever got.

One night, a burglar entered the Johnson home. All the lights were out, so he assumed everyone was either vacant or asleep. He walked in on the hypnotized family and drew his weapon in a panic and pointed it at them.
The only response he got was from father: "Shhh."
He forgot to move his body for a few seconds while his brain tried to deal with this. One expected a suburban family to react when you walked into their home and pointed a loaded .45 at them.
It slowly dawned on him that this particular family was so engrossed with whatever was on the television that they had not noticed his intention to rob them of their valuables.
He put his weapon back in the waistband of his jeans, tried to assume an I'm-just-a-houseguest-who-happens-to-carry-a-loaded-weapon stance and licked his lips.
This was his lucky night.
"Could I use your phone?" he whispered.
"Yes, it's in the kitchen," they pointed the way. Their eyes never strayed from the flickering screen.
Mr. Burglar went to phone a few of his burglar friends.
He told them to bring a U-Haul.

The Burglar and his ten friends put in a very hard night's work indeed. When they were finished, what was left was a family, a couch, and a TV. They had stole the usual stuff, jewelry, cash, subway tokens, and such and such. On top of this, they had taken, and fenced, a few hundred bricks, a good deal of two by fours and dry wall, twenty doors, fifteen windows, and furniture. They kept stereo equipment and such for themselves. The Johnson's did not seem to notice the icy winds which they were exposed to, now that their house was in the care of a man named "Guido."

The Johnson's never did find out what had happened to their worldly possession, nor did they notice their absence. The neighbour's just didn't have the heart to bring them out of their trance, and into a world in which they had nothing. They even started a fund-raiser to build a shack around the family and pay for electricity for the TV. So, the next three generations of the Johnson's lived in the world of the Cosby's, the gang at Cheer's and the talk shows, and of life tuned to a dead channel...

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