The Cardboard Man in the Passenger Seat

I went over to a friend’s house to play darts last night.  I’m fairly new at the game, and have only thrown a couple times before at the local pool hall. I’m still in the learning phases, so when my friend Kristine invited me to come over and throw a few rounds in her basement, I was thrilled at the opportunity to practice. I was going to learn so much!  I’m just going to make a long story short here and say I sucked.  Bad.


As I was driving back to my own place of dwelling after my night of utter dart embarrassment, I decided to give my folks a jingle and say hi, cuz that’s just the kind of daughter I am.  After an in-depth discussion about their annual dentist appointments (no cavities) and a rundown of the entire menu from the most recent community potluck dinner (the potato casserole was a bit dry, but the chicken kabobs were out of this world!), I mentioned that I was returning home after a rather uneventful dart lesson.


“Darts? Darts!?  How did a suit-wearing, Lexus-driving, white bread girl like you get involved in darts?  I didn’t raise you to hang out in smoke-filled bars with men who drink Shlitz and have Skoal rings permanently imbedded in the back pocket of their Wranglers! And the women!  I bet the women chain-smoke Marlboros!  You haven’t taken up smoking, have you?! Oh God, where did I do wrong?”


Now, I have had previous ventures into the world of the “sorta-sports” without so much as a flinch from the folks.  My brief immersion into the bowling arena was greeted with chuckles about my disdain for ugly shoes and jokes about how the ball would lash unspeakable horrors upon my freshly manicured acrylic nails. When I told Mom and Dad I felt I had the brain power to learn more about the mentally grueling challenges of chess, they just laughed.  And laughed.  And laughed.  I wasn’t even brave enough to broach the subject when I got the twitch to try my hand at curling…


In order to understand the unpredictable reaction from the folks to my latest attempt at a hobby that doesn’t require lifting, running, or sweating of any kind, I’d have to lay down a little information regarding my unfortunate history with fast-moving projectiles.  Bullets, darts, javelins, tennis balls, raindrops… Anything that moves expeditiously in one direction has proven, in my experience, to be bad juju.

 For example, several years ago when Mama (the better half of this blog) asked me if I would be interested in talking a class with her to get our “Concealed Carry” permits (which would allow us to legally hide 9 mm automatics in our underwear when shopping for Froot Loops at the local Piggly Wiggly), I responded with an enthusiastic “Abso-bloomin-lutely!” It had nothing to do with an actual desire to carry a gun.  Guns scare me.  My weapon of choice is a nineteen pound attack Shih Tzu names Brewster.  Failing his inability to scare off any machete wielding wanna-be rapist who has managed to enter my abode, I keep a rubber flashlight next to my bed as back-up. I figure if I can’t knock ‘em out with a good swing, I can try to frighten him away by using the old Girl Scout Camp scare tactic of holding the light under my chin and saying “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…”  No, my desire to attend a gun class was much more simplistic.  There might be hot men there.  Damn, was I way off on that one.


When the night of the gun class rolled around, (a mere three hours of lectures and I would be able to carry an AK47 in my purse!), I was actually afraid of what embarrassing situation I might get myself into. I have had several law-enforcement jobs in the past in which I had to qualify with various scary weapons in order to remain employed.  The running joke has always been that I can’t hit an elephant’s ass with a 12 gauge if it were two feet in front of my face.  I think the only reason I ever passed my qualifiers is because I’m blond and single, and it’s amazing how willing an old married fart is to show up at the range to coddle a chick half his age.  I had no doubt that my lack of gun-firing expertise would turn me into the laughing stock of the classroom and that this lesson would be for naught. “Concealed Carry” permit…HAH; I’d be lucky if they let me walk out of there with permission to handle a SuperSoaker, much less a document making it legal for me to covertly carry something that can actually maim another living creature. My worries about the course proved to be unfounded, however, as in the span of a half hour I actually hit my limbless, cardboard target FOUR TIMES, a personal record!  In fact, I was so proud of this monumental breakthrough in my shooting abilities that when all was said and done I strapped the cardboard torso (nicknamed “Bob”) into the passenger seat of my Corvette convertible and drove him around for the next week, showing him off like an Olympic gold medal.


It’s been years since I took that gun class.  But when Mom and Dad shutter at the thought of me playing darts, I know it’s simply because they don’t want to see me driving around town with a shot up dart board buckled proudly and prominently to my passenger seat.  I still don’t own a gun, and to this day the only things I carry in my purse are my wallet, merry-mango lip gloss, and a few pieces of Double Bubble. Oh…and a set of darts. 


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