Karen Barkstrom - The strangest person they know?

I recently had someone here in the newsroom tell me I was the strangest person they’ve ever met.

Not long ago, one of our new reporters came to my desk and said, “You know when you talk to your children on your phone everyone in the office can hear what you’re talking about. They should call you on your cell phone so you can go out in the hallway and we won’t all be eavesdropping.”

And I replied, “I don’t have a cell phone.”

That started a whole discussion about how “everyone has a cell phone. How can you survive without one?”

Then, I added, “And I don’t like wine and I didn’t understand ‘Forest Gump.’ ”

That’s what evoked the “strangest person” comment.

That got me thinking. Am I really so weird?


As far as cell phones go, I don’t have one and I don’t want one. My husband has one, so if we’re out on the road and break down, we can call for help. I don’t need one at home because I have my land line that keeps me in touch with friends and family.

And I hate talking on them. If I put the ear part up to my ear, I feel like the speaker part is too far away from my mouth and if I line up the speaker part with my mouth, the ear part is on my cheek!!!

And it amazes me how people seem addicted to their cell phones.

Every fall my husband, our three kids and their spouses go to the Cougar football game at Century Link Field. (It’s a rather painful day for my U of W alumni husband but he puts up with it, wears his cap that says “Husky Grad, Cougar Dad” and takes quite a bit of razzing).

We go up early, find a parking lot and “pre-function” for a couple of hours before the game. We barbecue, visit with lots of folks and consume a bit of liquid refreshment.

Everywhere I look people are on their cell phones. I’m thinking, “Who are you calling? You’re surrounded by friends, enjoying the afternoon — get off the phone and enjoy the moment!”

And my kids are right there with everyone else — cell phone pressed against their ear. “Rachel, when are you going to get here?”

“Sorry you had to work today, but I’ll have a Bud Light in your honor.”

“Are you in the parking lot yet? Head to the northeast corner and we’ll watch for you.”

When we finally get into the game, folks in the stands are either talking on their phones or text messaging someone. All around me, people have a cell phone up to their ear, are talking into that little wireless thing in their ear or are typing away on an itty-bitty keyboard.

I’m thinking, “Didn’t you come to watch the game? What can possibly be so important that it can’t wait ’til you get home?”

The kids say I just don’t understand.

About the wine. I can honestly say, I have nothing against wine. I have just never found one that I like. I’ve had people tell me, “Oh, you just haven’t found the right one yet.” And that may be true, but, honestly, I think I’m not meant to be a wine connoisseur.

I have no desire to keep trying different flavors — it’s kind of embarrassing really. Someone finds out I don’t like wine, so they bring me a glass “cause this one is really good” or “this is my favorite” or “this one if really fruity, you’ll like it” and I take a sip.

It’s awful. Do I tell them what I really think? What do I do with the glass that’s still full of wine?

I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything and, at my age, I’ve decided I don’t need to pretend “just ‘cause everyone else does it.”

Which brings me to “Forest Gump.”

I truly did not understand the movie. And for a long time, I didn’t tell anyone that. It got such great reviews. Any time anyone mentions Tom Hanks, they talk about his performance in “Forest Gump.” I agree Hanks did a good job but just what in the heck was the movie about?

I mean, how could Forest possibly have been in all those places and done all the things shown in the movie?

He wasn’t, folks have told me. You just have to look for the message. And I’m thinking — what message?

I don’t do well with movies or books with a lot of symbolism. I don’t like hidden meanings. If you want to tell me something, just tell me. (Heck, for a long time I thought one of my favorite movies was “Matrix” until someone started talking about the trinity and crucifixion and resurrection, none of which I saw in the movie.)

I blame it mostly on my dad. He had his doctorate degree in chemistry. He was a brilliant man and very logical. And I think I inherited that logical gene from him.

I’ve been called a lot of things in my life — silly, old-fashioned, stubborn, fun-loving, cheap — I think I kind of like adding “strange” to that list.

Karen Barkstrom can be reached at 537-3925, or by email at kbarkstrom@thedailyworld.com.


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