no, mr. bond, i expect you to die
When I was a little kid, I had my best friend Larry convinced I was the sole owner and operator of Gigantor, The Space-Age Robot. I said I kept him in a vast subterranean complex under the alfalfa field next to our tract of houses but, due to the secrecy required during the height of the Cold War, chances were slim he would ever really be a able to witness me at Gigantor's controls. This was the price of fighting the Red Menace, I told him. He admired me, and thus began my lust for technological gadgets.
Such urges can be satisfied only in adulthood, if they can ever truly be satisfied at all, because as a kid there are considerable budget restraints. I would not have been able, in all honesty, to acquire Gigantor's pink slip until well into my twenties. This awareness came to me early in life, and I've set my sights low. Personal Patriot missiles have simply not been available. I live too far from the beach to make a mini-sub practical, what with the need for a trailer and all. So I've been content to stay home, gratefully stroking my TV remote control for the godsend that it is.
Yesterday, however, all that changed. I bought a laser gun. Okay, it's not really a laser gun, it's a laser pointer and it's on a keychain, but still, hey, c'mon. I push a button and this red beam comes shooting out. It's just way cool.
I was standing in line to buy pants. Olive drab cotton pants. And there, on the counter by the register, was this little cardboard display, "High Output Key Chain Laser" it said, in that Asian Pacific Rim We-Make-Toys-And-Bombs kind of way. It was irresistible, as if the little yellow box were whispering in my ear, "You buy me now, yankee boy." I never make these impulse buys, but here, at long last, was the apogee of space-age gadgetry. And for less than twenty bucks! I left that store riding on a radioactive cloud. I was Buck Rogers. Green pants and a laser beam, baby, wrap 'em up to go.
I think it's marvelous. Viv thinks it's a silly toy, a boy thing.
So what's wrong with that? I can't always be some pipe-smoking elbow-patched curmudgeon, saying nay to every youthful whim as if it were a weed. Sometimes a man's gotta leap up and click his heels. He's gotta sample what's out there. He's gotta get himself a laser beam and go in the bathroom and turn off the lights and shine it into the toilet to see how cool it looks because, well, he's just gotta do it, dammit. This is how our species advances.
On the side of the box it came in are some sketches of the wonderful things I can do with my new toy. At first, they seem to depict the many innocent uses of the laser. But viewed more closely, through a careful eye, they seem to suggest a conspiracy of world domination. Can you not see the proposal for destruction of our modern transportation system, our nuclear powerplants, or the icon of our liberty itself? A fiendish plot is afoot! The inscrutable bastards!
I'm sorry. It was irresponsible of me to say that. If there's one thing you want a guy with a laser beam to be, it's responsible. This device is, after all, the thing all our mothers warned us against - you really can put an eye out with one of these doohickeys.
So I'll be careful, I promise.
Now I have to call Larry.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
"Song #13 from Nagasaki Days (Everybody's Fantasy)" -- Philip Glass/Allen Ginsberg-- HYDROGEN JUKEBOX
Wisdom of the Day:
"Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable."
- Plato, Theaetetus