Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Values– part 2

Values - part 1

by Tom Gaylord

The torment extended to bicycles as well. I had none, while he had the latest model with balloon tires and an electric light. He rode it every day in the summer, while most of the rest of us made do on shank's mare. It always took us longer to go anywhere, so we made him the scout for the neighborhood. If we wanted to go swimming, we sent him on ahead to be sure the pond was open before hiking the mile to it. If there was a circus in town, he rode to where they were set up and reported back to us what attractions they had, when they would open and so on. He never tired of his assignments and it took a lot of pressure off the rest of us.

Except for one thing. He liked to play cowboys and he wanted to carry my gun while he rode. I loaned it to him once, but I was afraid that he would scratch it when he stopped his bike. Instead of coming to a straight stop, he used to jump off to the left side of the bike and stand on the pedal while leaning the bike way over to the right. It made the gravel fly and looked like a horseman dismounting while still at a full gallop, but sometimes he misjudged the ground and lost his balance doing it. He always had skinned up knees and elbows, and I was afraid he would scratch up my rifle, too.

Well, denying him what he wanted was the worst thing I could have done. It made him want my gun even more. He offered to trade me his gun for it, even though he knew my gun didn't repeat and his did. That was how crazy he was. I refused because I didn't really feel as though the gun was mine to deal with. The way it was given to me, I felt it could be taken back at any time, that I was just a temporary custodian.

But he still persisted. He raised the offer to include a nice pocketknife and a horseshoe puzzle I liked. I continued to say no.

Then one day, my Aunt Olive called me inside for a talk. She asked me what I was doing to Todd—that was the boy's name—to get him so riled up. Apparently, he had gone to his parents over the matter, and they brought it to the attention of my aunt! This was a serious breech of childhood etiquette. We all knew that whatever differences we might have, we kept them to ourselves. Adults were never called into the picture unless the customary warning, "Aww—I'm tellin'!" was issued first. That allowed the other kid time to get his story straight before things got serious.

Trapped as I was by this unexpected turn of events, I became completely flustered and blurted out the truth. I told her about him wanting my BB gun and all the stuff he had offered for it. She asked if he was offering me a good deal. I said yes, but then I told her how I felt about my gun, that it wasn't really mine to trade. She laughed at that and said there had been some sort of misunderstanding. The gun was mine and I could do whatever I liked with it. If I wanted to trade it to Todd, I could.


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