This & that: Hey, at least I didn’t shoot my eye out

FEATURE – Anyone who has seen “The Christmas Story” knows that every young boy looks forward to the time they get their first BB gun. I was no exception. I was around 8 or 9 years old when most of the other boys in the neighborhood started getting theirs. None of the families in our neighborhood were rich, but my family seemed just a tad poorer than all of the others.

I think my parents were cognizant of what other kids were getting though because it seemed just as the other kids were getting certain gifts like bicycles, skateboards, et cetera, we would get similar ones three to four months later.

It was no different with the BB gun. Our friends got theirs first. We would tag along with them and beg and plead to shoot it every now and then. Finally one Christmas we got one. And when I say we got one, that is exactly what I mean.

In my family there were five kids when I was little. (We added a brother through adoption later to get to six.) Mark was the oldest, five years older than me. Michelle was next. She was the only girl but was as tomboyish as any girl I have known; she was four years older than me. As the oldest two, Mark and Michelle had their own activities. The three youngest were all boys and less than one year separated my brother Scott from my twin brother Shawn and myself.

The BB gun we got for Christmas was for all three of us younger boys. Scott was not only the oldest of the three, but also the biggest. So by default, he was of course also the first of us to get to shoot what was now our dearest possession. It’s funny because if you asked me what else I got that year for Christmas, or any other year for that matter, I could not tell you. That is how much I valued that BB gun.

I still remember prepping it for our little adventure. My dad showed us how to oil it, then how to load it. And just like the aforementioned movie, the BB gun came with rules. Now my parents would have been smart to have just had one rule: Don’t do anything stupid. That one rule encompasses several things – but my mother had learned by that point that specifics were probably warranted for us.

So, of course, the first rule was don’t shoot each other. That sounds silly but if you knew my brother Scott then you’d realize my mother had just saved Shawn and me from some temporary, yet serious, pain.

My mom did not stop there. The next rule was don’t shoot the chickens. Then came don’t shoot the neighbor’s cows. She finally generalized the entire category and said don’t shoot anything living.

She did not stop there. No shooting of coke bottles was allowed. (We were barefoot in the summertime and this rule probably prevented future trips to the emergency room.) Then, no shooting our vehicles, no shooting at the neighbor’s beehives, et cetera, et cetera. I am sure there were at least 10 more rules; but finally, after she thought she had covered every specific, inane, dangerous thing we could do with our newly acquired weapon of mass destruction, she let us loose.

Off we went. First we went traipsing off to the woods. Because of the “don’t-shoot-anything-living rule” we soon found that venue to be quite boring. Next we lined up some soda cans and shot at them. Now when I say we, what I am really saying is, Shawn and I lined up the cans and Scott shot at them. You see, Scott had not yet ceded the BB gun to us. We were patiently waiting our turn.

Soon Scott became disinterested in soda cans as targets and an idea popped into his head. The problem with being specific with your rules is, inevitably you are going to miss at least one that you should not have – and at no time did my mother ever say “don’t shoot out the garage windows.” Now, for most 8- and 9-year-old boys, that is probably common sense, but for us, it was the one regulation not forced upon us at the beginning of our adventure.

For many years I threw the blame on Scott of course. While he deserves the majority of the blame, I have to admit that Shawn and I watched in bedazzled excitement and awe as he masterfully shot out the windows. It was at this point that we ran out of ammo and hurriedly rushed in to reload because Scott assured us we would get to fire the gun next.

That is when, unfortunately for us, my father decided to go outside and get the morning newspaper. While he was outside he noticed that several of the garage windows had BB-sized holes in them. The punishment was swift: we were grounded and the gun was confiscated. Now at the time, we did not understand that it was a permanent confiscation but even if it had been temporary, it was a devastating blow.

So that is the story of my most memorable Christmas gift and to that point my most valued possession, a BB gun that I never got to hold, let alone fire, was forcibly removed from me forever.

I wish I could say that we learned a few things, like rat out your brother before he does something dumb or even “don’t do anything stupid”; but alas, many more childhood adventures would elicit these words continually from my father during our childhood, “We can’t keep anything nice with you boys around.”

By the way, the garage windows cost much less than my dad’s golf clubs.

Darren Cole is a developing columnist and otherwise sports writer for St. George News. Any opinions given are his own and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter:  @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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