For us, it was the red wooden long-barreled pistol from the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop (conveniently located, of course, right where you disembark from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney’s Magic Kingdom). We live about 15 minutes from Disney’s back door and are often in the Magic Kingdom. Since my husband Stewart absolutely loves Pirates of the Caribbean and never misses an opportunity to ride, my seven-year-old — always more interested in playing with the array of stylized 18th century weapons in the gift shop — has had ample opportunity to admire this particular pistol.
“Admire” is putting it mildly, actually. There hasn’t been such worship of a singular firearm since Ralphie pined after that Red Rider B.B. Gun in A Christmas Story.
Inevitably, when it would be time to move on to other attractions, Fletcher would start pleading for the pistol because he didn’t want to leave it behind. And inevitably, I would refuse because I’m basically opposed to guns, toy or otherwise.
Our “Can I Have It/No Effing Way” discussions had gotten so routine, I could anticipate the precise moment the begging and whining would begin.
“Mommy, can I –”
“No!” I’d quickly jump in.
“You don’t even know what I was going to ask,” Fletcher would pout.
“You were going to ask about the pistol.”
“Oh … Yeah,” he’d say, always surprised and disappointed that I had him (again). Then, ever hopeful, “Can I have it?”
For about two years I stuck to my, um, guns on the, uh, Gun Discussion. And Fletcher stuck stubbornly to his.
Then he changed tactics.
“If I use my own money, can I buy the gun?” he asked me one afternoon as we got ready for yet another trip to the Magic Kingdom.
Maybe it was because I was jazzed that for once I didn’t have to work over a weekend. Or because it was a beautiful Saturday. Or because I’d gotten a good night’s sleep and was well-caffeinated. Or simply because he’d caught me off guard, and I couldn’t think of a good reason why he couldn’t spend his money. Now of course I have a list. But in that moment, I hesitated, and in my hesitation, he sensed weakness and pounced. “C’mon, Mommy. Please. Please. Please.” So I said, Yes. Although I think it came out something like “All right already! You can have the damn gun!”
Fletcher fished 20 bucks in singles out of his piggy bank and off we went, with me already regretting that I’d acquiesced. Fletcher chattered about the gun on the drive there. He chattered about the gun on the Monorail into the park. And once we were actually inside the Magic Kingdom, nothing would do but that we go straight for the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop to buy the gun BEFORE WE DID ANYTHING ELSE.
With loving care he picked out the red wooden long-barreled pistol that he wanted from the rack of red wooden long-barreled pistols on display, then delightedly handed over $15 in crumpled bills to the cashier. The rest of the day is really a blur of “Stop pointing the gun at people” admonishments interspersed with the sharp CRACKs! the pistol made whenever he pulled the trigger … which was about every two minutes … which is also why I keep my purse stocked with Aleve. He fell asleep on the ride home with the pistol gripped tightly in his hands, just like Ralphie in the movie.
The next day he carried it everywhere with him, like a pint-sized buccaneer and told everyone he encountered that, finally, he had a toy gun. But within a few days, the pistol lay discarded on one of the living room shelves. And a few weeks later, during a living room toy purge, it migrated upstairs to the play room.
Today, I couldn’t even tell you exactly where that red wooden long-barreled pistol is. I haven’t seen it in months. Essentially my kid whined for two years for a toy that he played with for probably two weeks, maybe less. And you know what? I’m okay with that.