Wednesday, August 16, 2006

By the book – part 6

By the book - part 1
By the book - part 2
By the book - part 3
By the book - part 4
By the book - part 5

by Tom Gaylord

She invited me in to meet her mother and then we went out into her back yard to play. We played catch and quoits for awhile, but when she asked me if I wanted to shoot her BB gun, things really got interesting! Carmen - a girl - had a BB gun! Yes, she did! She said her father wanted her to learn how to shoot, so he gave her both a BB gun and a .22. She was allowed to shoot the BB gun in the yard, but for the .22 she had to wait until her father could take her someplace to shoot.

We shot all that morning and I was in heaven once again. Carmen taught me some shooting rules her dad had taught her and I followed them to the letter because I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of this girl who I was beginning to fall in love with. She was a much better shot than I, but she showed me how to shoot without lording it over me. The rest of that day was a blur, but I know I spent it with Carmen, along with every day after that.

About a week before school began again, my mother finally met Carmen—something I had been trying to avoid as long as possible. She didn't embarrass me in front of my friend, of course, but when my dad came home that night she lowered the boom. They talked about Carmen after I went to bed, but I was too interested not to sneak out into the hall and listen to what was said. My mother didn't like "that girl," and was afraid she was leading me astray. If she only knew Carmen had a BB gun! I managed to keep that part a secret, but it didn't change anything. In the end, mother had her way and I had to stop going over to Carmen's house altogether.

When school began again, I saw Carmen at lunch the first day. We talked for a bit, but I was too embarrassed to tell her what had happened, so I suppose I sounded foolish. Within a few days, she was hanging around with a different crowd of older kids, and all we saw of each other was when we passed in the hall.

I was in eighth grade that year and Carmen was a freshman in high school. All six grades were combined in one large building at our school, so I still saw her, but as the year progressed, the demarcation between high school and junior high rose up like a stone wall. It programmed all of us so indelibly that we carried it into our adult lives.

I was so brokenhearted throughout the final years of my primary school that I never again socialized with the other kids. When my family finally moved to another state, I used the move to reinvent myself and leave my old personality behind.


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