Tuesday, March 8, 2011


There's just something weird about going into a jock shop named "Dick's."

I don't usually go to sporting goods stores. I'm not really much of a sports guy, but my son is interested in playing soccer and I played soccer in junior high and high school. I loved it and have often thought about joining a geezer league, but so far... my schedule really hasn't permitted.

So, the two of us found ourselves wandering the aisles looking at soccer gear when I spotted the "outdoorsman" section, where they keep the gear for hunting, fishing and otherwise making a nuisance of yourself in the great outdoors. I do not fish, do not hunt and do not enjoy camping, much to the continued irritation of family who really dig it.

As a boy I was taught a whole set of skills useful if the modern world suddenly ended and the dinosaurs returned. Dad hunted, fished and trapped animals for their pelts. He brought me along and I learned some of it; enough to get by, if I needed to. I know how to fish, how to hunt and can skin animals if need be. I'm an okay shot with a gun, but better with a bow and arrow. I picked that up shooting arrows with the kid across the street. Sometimes he even let me take a turn with his compound bow.

We got the soccer ball and ambled over past the fishing lures and the paintball guns. It was like something was calling me and I moved with clear purpose.

In the lower corner of an aisle, there was a single line of Daisy slingshots --different sizes, different pulls, different prices. They were aluminum frames with yellow rubber tubing and a genuine artificial leather patch where you put the sling bullet.

My son looked at me as I picked one up then grabbed a bag of marbles, what you use as ammo when you don't much feel like picking up rocks.

"Is that for me?" He asked.

No. He was disappointed, but he's five.

Now, I have no idea why I wanted this thing. I have no idea why I bought it, except it was something I wanted.

Over ten years ago at a flea market, I bought a switchblade knife off a guy selling them from the hood of his car for twenty bucks. For almost a week I walked around, flicking it open --click-- then closing it. I felt like some kind of a bad ass. I just loved having it on me.

I got rid of it the day after I took it into a radio studio and nearly made the DJ working that afternoon wet himself. It scared the hell out of him and me a little. It was like I was looking for an excuse to use it and that bothered me because really, what precisely is the purpose of something like a switchblade? It only really has one purpose.

I sold it for what I paid for it and that was that.

A few years later, a friend of mine gave me a gun. His grandfather, suffering from dementia, lost his mind, attacked his wife and put her in the hospital. My friend and his father had to go, settle some affairs and put them in separate nursing homes. While going through the house, they came up with several thousand dollars in cash, plus a couple of guns the old man had hidden.

I was given one of them for no other reason than my friend felt like he needed to distribute them.

It was the same problem as with the knife. I spent hours fiddling with the gun, which was never loaded. I carried it around and probably once or twice I put myself in situations where I could have been in a lot of trouble if a cop searched me.

Eventually, I put the gun away, actually forgot about it for a couple of years, then got rid of it altogether when it turned up again.

So, now I have this slingshot. There's a symbol in all of this, something the wanting and needing of this specific item signifies, but I'm not sure what it means.

It is pretty cool, however.

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