I have two guns in my house.
One of them is the classic “A Christmas Story”-renowned “You’ll shoot your eye out, Kid” Daisy “Air Rifle” I received some years back for my birthday because they knew I would like it and I did.
The other is a real-looking Colt ’45 procured from a “Gun Shop” in an oft-used location “Cowboy Town” in Tucson Arizona, delivered to me by a friend who got detained at the Tucson airport for five hours after announcing he was bringing it onto the plane. He got a big “Thank you” that one.
Neither of these guns actually shoots, the duplicate six-gun because it was never intended to shoot, the pistols, designed specifically for “Extras” uninvolved in the gun-blazing action, and the “Air Rifle” because you have to buy “B B’s” to load into it and I have no intention of doing so.
My possession of them represents the “Grown-Up” extension of the pretend arsenal I enthusiastically assembled as a kid.
Call me the David Koresh of “Unusable Weaponry.”
I won’t hide it.
I had a terrible – or wonderful, depending on how you look at it –
“Toy Gun” fetish.
An attachment to weapons is a demonstrable “Cultural Divide.” “Some does and some doesn’t.” It is all “the way you grew up.”
Here’s the way I grew up:
I was enamored of cowboys.
Cowboys always packed “shootin’ irons.”
“Cowboy Earl” – therefore – packed “shootin’ irons.”
Though not just cowboy guns. I had a “Flash Gordon ‘Smoke Ray Gun’.” (I believe it shot baking powder.) I had a “Potato Gun.” (Which is self-explanatory, except to say it did not shoot whole potatoes; you had to chop them up first.) I had a gun that shot rubber bands. And, I recall, another that shot rice. I was also impressively armed with a World War Two machine-gun-simulating “Burp Gun”, whose mere appearance had opposing adversaries fleeing the battlefield.
But my unparalleled favorites were my “Cisco Kid’s”, my “Roy Rogers’s” and my “Hopalong Cassidy’s.” (The last two were both “Two-Gun ‘rigs’”, if you will pardon the patois.)
(The single exception in my “Absolute Favorites” collection was a replica “Snub Nose ‘38’”, the preference of “Private Dick” Peter Gunn – Peter Gunn; can you believe it?) That one looked so real you were banned from carrying it into banks, its mere appearance triggering the frightened emptying of tills. (I’d like to think.)
The “38” did not shoot rolls of caps. Instead, you loaded a flat, six-cap “circle” into the… whatever in real guns you slip the shells into; as you can see, I am minimally conversant with the actual arena. After you fired off six shots, you had to dig out the “spent” cap circle, and then judiciously reload.
Like with actual firearms!!!
Sorry. I got a little excited there for a second.
Okay, here’s the first “turn.”
My undisguised passion for ersatz weaponry never once made me consider buying an actual firearm. The accompanying caveat (from legitimate “gun people”, not lily-livered liberals): You buy a gun – you have to be willing to use it. I shall give this itsown line, for particular emphasis:
That is never going to happen.
(My favorite line in that regard. A Jewish infantryman’s in the front lines, not firing his gun at the advancing enemy. His superior runs up, shouting, “Shoot! Shoot!” To which the Hebraic soldier replies, “Are you crazy? There are people are there!”)
Many parents do not believe this, but I am a living and breathing example that it’s true. When it comes to firearms or any “playthings of aggression”, I am – and always have been – unwaveringly clear on the difference between the “unreal” and the “real.” I had an abounding enthusiasm for toy store weaponry. As for the real kind:
Where the heck are we, Dodge City?
And yet – and here comes the second “turn” –
Although in the area of weaponry I can experience the difference between the “unreal” and the “real”, the unreality of movies scares the pants off me.
I know no one actually dies in movies. Matthew McConaughey succumbed in Dallas Buyers Club? The guy’s on TV, driving a Lincoln. I get the concept. Movies are “make believe”, as was my childhood arsenal. And yet, contrasting with guns, when the pretend danger cranks up in movies…
I instinctively go, “Mommy!”
I mean, even last night,
I am watching The Glory Guys (1965) on The Westerns Channel, a fictionalized retelling of “Custer’s Last Stand”, and as soon as the cavalry reaches the top of the “rise” and sees thousand of Indians lined up to attack them, the “Chief” lets out a signaling war “Whoop!” and I reflexively “remote” to less perilous terrain.
(CAVALRY TROOPER: “Wish’d I had a remote. Them ‘Hostiles’ meant business!”)
I don’t get it. What’s the difference between the two “unreals”, one of which has me blasting away with my “Burp” gun, the other, sending me “high-tailin’” it to a rerun Law & Order episode.
This is no “dramatizing dichotomy.” I am truly perplexed by this self-created distinction. How come I realize one situation is harmlessly unreal, while the other – which is equally unreal – sends me scurrying for cover?
Quite often writing about it helps me clarify things in my mind.
The “Aha!” light bulb remains dark.