If you ever drive out in west Texas.....getting anywhere west of Odessa or Midland.....you tend to note the local conditions and scenic views (lacking of any whatsoever). There are a few towns here and there.....a gas station, some Dollar-General stores, and some cattle ranches.
Generally, you say cattle outnumber people by a twenty to one ratio (my humble numbers).
About fifty miles west of Odessa is Kermit. There's nothing much historic over the town of six-thousand folks. State highway 115 and 302 run through the town. There's a big Pentecostal Church at the north end of town. Somewhere in the middle are a Sonic burger franchise and a Dairy Queen operation. There's a cafe or two, along with a couple of gas stations. If you wanted Wal-Mart shopping....you'd have to drive ten miles east of the town to West Odessa....to get that kind of experience.
Does the Pentecostal thing matter much.....as I mentioned it in the previous paragraph? Well....yeah.
This past week.....news got out of Kermit that the school had a problem to develop.
I'll try to tell the story in a simple fashion. Some kid came up in school....nine years old....and he's a bit of a devious character. You'd just say he's the type that just wants to have some fun.
The kid came into school one day with a ring. He noted to his buddies that it was a "One-Ring".....which is the ring that came out of J R R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. You know.....the one that made a guy invisible. He noted to his associate that this ring had the secondary power of allowing the guy wearing it....to make others invisible. Naturally, he wanted to intimidate his associate, and hinted that he'd make that kid invisible.
The other kid got all upset and peeved about this impending doom of him being invisible.....so he ran off and ratted on his associate to school management.
The kid with the ring? Oh, he got suspended for a week apparently. His dad noted in response to a local newspaper question on this.....noted that if his son did turn the kid invisible....he also had the power to turn the kid right back to visible.
Now, you'd typically pause over this kind of thing. You'd wonder if folks in Kermit had ever watched Lord of the Rings and grasped that it was simply a fantasy story over good folks battling evil folks....all imaginary of course.
In general, at least around the hardcore Pentecostal folks.....there are some things accepted and forbidden. Movies are forbidden by a number of ministers within the faith....so when you start yacking about some new dragon movie, or Bruce Lee-Kong Fu flick, or some Burt Reynolds car chase movie......well....folks don't really perk up much because they may have seen it but just can't admit this in public.
Having a TV? Generally accepted although what you watch is important....like the news and weather are OK. Episodes of Andy Griffith are Ok. Buffy the Vampire Killer probably won't be approved for viewing within the crew. I doubt that Bewitched would even be acceptable.
Rings and jewelry? Well.....no. Marriage rings are even frowned upon and accepted only when folks get real peppy about it. Just suggesting that you might have a One-Ring (from Lord of the Rings) would likely disturb a forty-year old gal deeply.
Some Pentecostal folks are against organized sports. If you just meet and conduct a local softball game.....that's Ok. NFL football might be deemed inappropriate and only watched in your basement and behind closed doors....if your minister is peppy on the topic.
Some groups from the Pentecostal folks....have a strong rule on their women wearing skirts....mandating it below the knee. Some folks get peppy about men going shirtless.
So, in this small town of Kermit.....you can imagine a fair number of folks there being Pentecostal, and this kid with the Lord of the Ring's ring.....getting a fair amount of attention. Wizard-stuff.....stuff that Satan might bring into their small town.....and worries about invisible people. You just can't have that sort of stuff.
Yeah.....that's the basic story. I know.....it's pretty stupid.....but this is West Texas, and things are pretty anchored down in life. It's a good thing the kid didn't say anything about the fire-breathing dragon that his dad keeps in the garage, or the big stone in the backyard with a Merlin-sword sticking into it. All this kind of talk would disturb some folks.