Toys Go Boom

     The coolest Christmas present my brothers and I got when we were kids was a giant chemistry set.
     It had stuff you’d be arrested for trying to buy now.
     All I remember about it is making ink, and of course, making stuff to blow things up.
     All the kids knew the recipe for black powder: charcoal, sulphur and potassium nitrate.
     We went through that potassium nitrate like it was going out of style. Then we had to go to the drug store to buy more. I remember it like it was yesterday.
     The pharmacist, in his long white coat, cast a wary eye upon the three of us and said, “You boys aren’t buying this to make black powder, are you?”
     “What?” we said.
     “No!” we said.
     “Can you make black powder with this?” we said, gazing at one another in alarm.
     “Gosh!” we said. “No!”
     What a bunch of liars.
     He sold it to us anyway. Adults didn’t think little kids were terrorists and subversives back then just because we wanted to blow things up.
     What else would three little kids want to buy potassium nitrate for? To fertilize our crops?
     This was going to be a column about the Connecticut school massacre.
     But who wants to read about that at Christmas?
     Don’t worry: I’m not going to tell you How Good Things Were Back in the Old Days.
     And, God willing, I’m not going to blame anyone for anything in the next 300 words.
     I would like to point out, however, that Christmas, as it has evolved in this country, is for children, and that the way children first realize that they can change the world is by telling lies.
     I never had much interest in kids, until I helped raise some of my own.
     I remember asking my daughter, “What are you doing?” and she said, “I’m pretending.”
     It’s not a lie; it’s pretending. Kids know the difference.
     Pretending is pretending. Lying is trying to get away with something.
     Well, if I may be so bold, our entire country, including both houses of Congress, have been pretending for so long that it’s turned into a lie.
     A whole bunch of lies.
     We have become, in short, a nation of lying brats.
     We pretend, or lie, that people who want to keep semiautomatic weapons with banana clips out of the hands of perverts and mentally ill people are “jack-booted thugs” who want to “take away our freedom.”
     We pretend, or lie, that taxing jillionaires at one-fourth the rate that we taxed them under Eisenhower, when we had a healthy economy, is “socialism.”
     We pretend, or lie, that Congress is leading a charge into tyranny, and that we will not remain free until we can “drown it in a bathtub.”
     What a bunch of liars we have become.
     What a bunch of brats.
     My older brother, who got that chemistry set long ago, got into guns after that. He joined the NRA and collected pistols for a while. He joined a gun club and got a whole bunch of sharpshooter badges.
     My parents, good old-fashioned liberals, didn’t think there was anything wrong with that.
     My brother never killed anyone with his guns because he’s not a pervert and he’s not insane. I don’t think he even had to register his guns, back in the 1960s. He eventually got rid of them.
     That was then. This is now.
     Merry Christmas.

%d bloggers like this: