The Eighth Page

Duck & Cover

The hollow echoes of gunshots resound in my ears, and through the dense underbrush I spot a group of angry-looking males. Dressed in camouflage, the men creep through the foliage. Wielding sleek firearms, they glare menacingly. Before I know it, I am staring past one of the sinister-looking guns and into a pair of cold gray eyes. “Hands up or I’ll shoot!” the beast cries out from behind his face protector. When I first read my assignment this week, I was skeptical. Between copious threats and vulgar references to robots, Derrick’s e-mail informed me that this week I would have to write about the war in Iraq and complain about how it affects me. The first thought that ran through my head was, “Does this conflict with my morals?” Haha. Seriously, though, I was mildly disconcerted by the prospect of lamenting all of the “sacrifices” I’ve had to make in these difficult times while other people are actually suffering. Then I remembered that I’m American, and as such do not possess what the Spanish call “los principles.” Thank God. Although I suppose it might not count as a “sacrifice” per se, the largest personal impediment the war has brought to me is my younger brothers’ recently-renewed obsession with all things weapon-like. Back when I was a kid, all we had to play with were cornhusk dolls and dead mice. Fortunately for my brothers, however, the good people of Toys R Us have amended this horrifying problem, with such wonders as Baby Pee-on-Myself, Nintendo games aptly entitled, “Killing Lots of Stuff,” and of course, the hallowed “paintball gun.” As you may have guessed by now, the escapades described in the beginning of this article were, in fact, an account of a typical Sunday afternoon in my backyard, as opposed to an Iraqi ambush. Though many people seem to believe that living in Iraq right now might be slightly less enjoyable than having your intestines pulled out through your navel, I’m not convinced that living in America is any better. Anyone who thinks we have it “easy” here has never been shot in the face by a 10-year-old with a rapid-fire dart gun. Yeah, they were made of hot pink styrofoam, but it’s still a little unnerving to wake up to a manners-challenged fourth grader standing on your stomach holding the plastic equivalent of an Uzi. Since I am American and therefore lack anything like what the French call “les morals,” I thought maybe it would be in my best interest to educate myself about our society’s recently developed prepubescent love of all things causing harm. Basically, I was jealous and wanted to shoot stuff too. My first stop was the chambers of the pint-sized ninja who lives in my house. After knocking on his door a few thousand times, I decided to open it myself. Inside, I found his room littered with what I can only describe as “lots of pieces of stuff.” Upon closer inspection, I found that most of the objects strewn across the carpet were actually “lots of pieces of stuff that could hurt you.” After nearly getting a Lego grenade embedded in my bare foot, I decided it would be in my best interest to search for him elsewhere. On my way out, his dresser exploded and an enormous tank rolled out from under the bed. The next best place to look, I decided, was what we refer to in my house as the “game room”, which contains, on average, approximately four “game systems” and 12 glass-eyed boys holding plastic controllers and convulsing spastically, muttering things like, “DIEDIEDIE!” I was shocked to find that, at that particular moment, there were NO half-brained American children electrically wired to the television, or in fact, anywhere in the room! Next, I hurriedly checked the sunroom, which is attached to the game room. Though at first it appeared to be empty, there came from underneath the Jacuzzi cover a gurgling sound, and then the large leather flap flew open. Out rose my small Samurai sibling, with one hand gripping a glass of what looked like tomato juice, the other wielding yet another W.M.D. I felt power surge through my body, and while my little brother hid in the corner, I… “shot” [with a plastic, fake weapon] lots of stuff. Gee, it’s great to be an American.