Holiday Digest: The Gun


By Steve Fayne

Sitting in the corner of my den in Laguna is the BB gun that my wife and son bought for me. It was a pity gift for my 40th birthday, given to me as the result of a story I told them about my deprived childhood.

When I was 9, all I wanted in the world was a BB gun. As Hanukkah approached, I told my parents, my older sister, all my relatives, and even complete strangers because, well, you never know. My parents, of course, knew someone whose second cousin’s neighbor’s son put his eye out (that’s how they said it) with a BB gun. So, there was no way my parents were getting me one. Still, I persisted figuring, as kids often do, that I’d wear them down.

And then it happened. Two days before Hanukkah, a box arrived from my Aunt Jessie, long known for providing oddball gifts. It was 4 inches by 6 inches by about 3 feet—clearly the BB gun of my dreams. Since I was home when it arrived, my parents couldn’t just throw it away or send it back, but they did make me wait for it until the eighth night. I’m sure the other gifts I got that year were great, but I just went through the motions. I ripped open the paper, looked at each present, and then promptly ignored it.

Finally, the eighth night arrived and they had no choice. My father handed me the box, and I tore off the paper and threw open the box. There it was, not a BB gun, but a long black umbrella that was almost as tall as I was. My father had this strange tortured look on his face, and it was only years later, when I had a son of my own, that I realized that he was trying his hardest not to laugh. The worst, of course, was yet to come. I had to call my aunt and thank her for the gift.

“I was standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus to take me to Macy’s and was thinking about what to get you when it started to rain, and I thought, of course—an umbrella!”

I threw the umbrella, box and all, into the back of my closet, and there it remained for 10 years. Then, one day, I needed gas money and returned the umbrella to Macy’s. Apparently black umbrellas never go out of style and they gave me the princely sum of $18. Enough for a tank of gas and a couple of movie tickets. Thanks, Aunt Jessie.

Steve Fayne is a retired entertainment lawyer living in Laguna where he gets wet when it rains.


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