Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gunning for laughs

I don't honestly remember the Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun, but the world of Ralphie Parker and "The Christmas Story" feels like home to me. Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's stage production, which continues through Dec. 20,  is even funnier than the 1983 movie..
              But the best part is the innocence.
               My brothers had lots of toy guns. Westerns were the icons of 1950s television, so we always played shoot 'em up. If somebody didn't have shiny Lone Ranger pistols, they would pretend with a twig or a finger. But we were never scared of guns. Never imagined that someone would actually use one to hurt another person.
              Dad and my brothers always went hunting on Thanksgiving morning while the turkey baked. It seemed right. I remember frozen rabbit packed in cardboard milk cartons in the freezer. My brothers would tote their shotguns with them when they walked to a friend's house and no one ever called the police. Why would they?
             When I became a mom, my son was in the Star Wars generation. They fought with light sabers. Some of my friends banned their children from having toy guns. But kids still played shoot 'em up with a twig or a finger, and couldn't imagine guns really hurting anybody.
             And then something changed. Somebody brought guns to school. Real guns. And people were killed. In schools, in movie theaters,  at fast food restaurants.  And our innocence was gone.
            You can't take a water pistol to school anymore. And I'm sure a kid carrying a shotgun would be considered a community threat in most of today's neighborhoods.
             You can blame political correctness or the NRA or "lousy libs." But we aren't in Indiana least not Raphie Parker's Indiana.

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