I was up in Vermont a few weeks ago, visiting my parents, and while I was there, my mother asked me if I would hook up the new surround receiver they’d bought, which is always fun for me because it means I get to tell my parents what to do (they don’t seem to understand why I put so much importance on the right usage of sound equipment, I think). This meant a trip to the electronics store for appropriate cabling, so once I took an inventory of what was needed, we took a Saturday morning trip to the nearest Best Buy. Unfortunately, Best Buy didn’t happen to have any cables of the appropriate length (and on top of that, the cables they did have were unbelievably expensive), so we decided to forgo the cables for cheaper alternatives to be found at Radio Shack. But while we were there, I decided to head over to the video games to see if they maybe had a display for Guitar Hero III, which had not yet been released. They didn’t, which stunk, but I was surprised to turn around from the game display to see my mother standing next to a stack of Nintendo Wiis with what can only be described as a look of delight in her eyes.

She looked at my stepfather and breathed, “They have them in stock.”

The thought that my mother would be interested in buying a video game system sent me practically into overload. Parents aren’t supposed to be this childlike, right? Truth be told, though, it was a pretty adorable sight. Almost as adorable as the later sight of my mother standing in front of a television with a wiimote in her hand, flailing her arms in the air while throwing a virtual bowling ball down the lane.

But I digress.

When we got to the checkout line, the woman at the checkout looked over the various pieces and asked us if this was a Christmas purchase. “No,” I said. “This is an impulse purchase.” I then remarked that my idea of an impulse purchase wasn’t something like this, though; my idea of an impulse buy is more like a new shirt at Target and wasn’t usually on par with a video game system.

Then I thought about what I’d said and realized something. “You know,” I said, “I must be getting older. My idea of an impulse buy used to be something like ‘Hey, look, a new CD.’ Now, I’ll walk into a store and go, ‘Ooh… boxers.’ ”

It was a joke that my friends thought was funny when I got back home, but I came to another realization today: I’m sitting in my living room right now and watching the Food Network. Before that? Golf.

When did I become old?

I used to watch cartoons on Saturday. Later, I might watch a bunch of movies over the weekend. Lately, though, I’ve found myself aligning my TV interests with interests from other areas of my life. I never once thought I’d get a kick out of cooking shows, but I found that the more interested I became in cooking good food, the more interesting these programs became. The same with golf: I used to think that golf was a great game to play, but not so much to watch. Isn’t it strange how our tastes change?

I listen to NPR, I read nonfiction books, and while I still love to bust out a game like Guitar Hero and heavy metal, I find it interesting that my idea of a fun night with friends usually involves some kind of food I’ve cooked rather than a six-pack of beer.

Then again, there’s no reason we can’t do both.