My father, Grampy Grumpy, decided the perfect Christmas gifts for his three grandsons were matching giant foam-dart guns. These things came in boxes bigger than the one that held my brand-new vacuum. (No, I wasn't jealous their presents were bigger than mine.)
Fatty Lumpkin wasn't even as tall as the box. You could just see his avaricious eyes and the blur of his little hands as he tore his dart-slinging death machine free. Grampy Grumpy rubbed his hands and cackled in glee in the background. Grampy ought to have been twirling a Snidely Whiplash-style mustache.
When you misbehave as a child, your parents take sadistic glee in giving your children the foam-rubber equivalent of a tommy gun. Karma is unkind.
Luckily, there were so many presents, including one at the top of Little Professor's wish list - a plain deck of playing cards - that the 60-round, full-automatic dart gun stayed safely in the box.
At least until we got home. That's when the Long Suffering Husband decided to open it, "just to look at it."
"I want to make sure it doesn't need to be put together," he said.
Apparently, I am unable to assemble toys on my little old lonesome. Forget the dart gun, I wanted him to assemble my vacuum, which is guaranteed to pick up pet hair. What is it with men and projectile weapons?
It didn't need assembly, but it did need six D-cell batteries.
"Are you kidding me?" I asked "What is it going to do, fling darts at the moon? That's ridiculous."
"I wonder if we have any D batteries," he mused.
"We don't have any," I said.
"I thought I bought some for camping."
"We used those. We don't have any more."
"I could swear we had some around here somewhere."
It's like he thought if he looked hard enough, the battery fairy would pop in with $12 worth of batteries. If it hadn't been Christmas, I swear he would have run to the store to pick some up.
Out-and-out foam warfare was only delayed by a day, because he stopped and picked some up on his way home from work the following day. And here I had been hoping he would forget. Any other time, if I want him to pick something up, I've got to text him a grocery list in addition to calling and reminding him.
He loaded it up, and, of course, once it was locked and loaded, he immediately began to shoot darts across the living room.
"You're going to lose those," I said, as if it wasn't my fondest wish that he would lose them. "Or you're going to hit something and knock it over. If you hit my Penguins gnome and break it, I'm going to break you."
He ignored me. Even worse, the children raced upstairs to raid the foam dart armory the Professor had amassed through several Christmas parties. Instead of doing an imitation of Custer's Last Stand, they started shooting around the corner from the high ground of the stairs. Foam darts were flying everywhere.
"Y'all had better not hit me." I turned the page of my book.
The phone rang. It was Sassy's Girl Scout Leader. We discussed pending Girl Scout business as darts flew through the air. Sass plugged the Professor right in the adam's apple. He dropped like he'd actually been shot.
"I've got to go," I told Leader. "Sass just shot the Professor in the throat."
"I can't believe you shot your brother in the throat," I told Sass. "What on earth were you thinking?"
"I wasn't trying to shoot him in the throat," she said contritely.
"Of course you weren't."
"I was trying to shoot him in the chest."
It's all the LSH's fault.
(Wallace-Minger, a resident of Weirton, is community editor of The Weirton Daily Times.)