Thursday, August 17, 2006

Straight shooter – part 1

by Tom Gaylord

When I was a boy, I wanted a BB gun in the worst way. Most of my friends had them and it was hard to go out in the neighborhood, unarmed as I was. Most kids figured my folks were poor, which we weren't. Mom just didn't see why her house should be an armed camp, and I think my old man went along with her to keep the peace. She had a formal living room that we kids weren't allowed to play in, and it was loaded with bric-a-brac and other breakable things. I got the impression that she thought I would start sniping at her stuff if I was armed.

My dad would take me down to the local quarry on weekends, where we would both shoot his .22 Winchester automatic. It was lots of fun, but the shells cost a bundle, so I think he resented having to pay so much all the time. One day, while we were out shooting he said, "Bobby, I think it's time we got you a BB gun. Don't you?"

Well, there was no thought required for that! I was for the idea even before he brought it up.

"But what about mom? You know how she feels."

"Yes I do. Your mother was raised in a different kind of family than ours, son. Her father was a minister, and her mother was a very formal lady. You've seen them when we visit, and they've become more open and friendly over the years."

I thought about that. My grandfather Amos was the sternest man I had ever known. I couldn't ever remember him smiling, and he sure wasn't the guy to be flip with. I even thought my dad was afraid of him.

"In their home, children were either doing their chores, studying their homework or else reading the bible. There was no time for the things you and your friends like to do."

"Geez, dad, I sure wouldn't have wanted to live like that."

"Your mother is still learning how to relax and have a good time, Bobby. She has a lot of fun in her soul, but her upbringing goes against it, so she doesn't always show her brighter side. I'll tell you what we need to do, you and I. We need to come up with a good reason for you to have a BB gun, one that your mother can agree with. If she could see the practical benefit to your having a gun, I don't think there would be a problem. Can you help me with that?"

I said I could, although I had absolutely no idea how to convince her. It wasn't that she disliked guns the way some mothers did, because she didn't. She just saw no redeeming value to a child's toy like a BB gun, and what couldn't be justified as having practical value in her mind wasn't right. That was a harder nut to crack than just not liking guns, because you didn't know where to begin.


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