I re-watch “A Christmas Story” season after season. Besides simply being a good movie, it rekindles wonderful emotions in us older adults. It forcefully pushes Southern male buttons.
In fact, some years ago after watching the movie for the umpteenth time I decided I wanted another Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. My wife Ann kindly filled the wish.
Although I knew she’d ordered it, I dutifully waited until Christmas morning to unwrap it and go outside to shoot. Plinking with the gun wasn’t a big deal but hearing the BBs rattle back and forth inside the magazine was absolutely delicious.
Some things bore so deeply into psyche they almost become genetic. The sound of BBs cascading inside a Daisy is one of them that hasn’t changed one iota in 60 years.
I shot a million BBs during my adolescence. I “hunted” away entire summers from can-see to can’t-see, sunrise to sunset.
To my discredit, I killed thousands of birds, which now offends my adult human sensibilities. But back then I was more of a predator and less of a thinker and danced to inner reptilian drums.
But that’s neither here nor there in the natural scheme of things. I lived as a normal Southern boy and one of my more precious tools on that journey was my trusty BB gun.
What moved this subject onto this page was my grandson, Bug. He and his parental “staff” are due from Japan next week.
He’s decided that he wants to learn to shoot, so to that end, my BB gun and carton of BBs are waiting by the tree for his arrival. I look forward to teaching him, letting him experience one of the tiny rites of passage boys of my generation enjoyed.
So many experiences of formative years are disappearing, lost from disuse or blown away by political winds of social engineering. Just this week the state of New Jersey moved to control BB guns. That could make Ralphie a felon.
When I saw that news, I didn’t get upset. Governmental insanity is invading every nook and cranny of our lives. Bureaucratic nonsense is in full bloom, fertilized and watered with egos and speeches.
Just last week a little kid was suspended from school for sexual harassment, kissing a classmate on the hand. Hopefully those powers won’t go back into my life and bust me for my fifth-grade peck on Linda Denio’s dimpled cheek.
My song dedication to many public schools is, “Dysfunction junction, what in the world is your function?” It must not be to educate children. Look at results.
With liberal politicians and teachers’ unions making rules and dealing cards, the fix is in. Have you checked out our comparative ratings in the world? Nasty.
Children should play ball and tag and live a life of texture, even if they pick up a few bruises along the way. They should be taught reading, writing and arithmetic.
Bad teachers should be fired and good ones rewarded. Oh yeah, while I’m dreaming, let’s free Ralphie!
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.