Posted by Biographical Scrapbooking, Cemeteryville, Personal Anecdotes Posted on March 6, 2014Posted in
Another blogger whom I frequent, Pied Type, just yesterday published a serious post regarding a 10-year old boy who was suspended from his school for pointing a make-believe ‘finger gun’ at another student. It’s worth your time if you get a chance to drop by and read the post. The post on the other hand reminded me of something that I wrote several years back regarding my childhood and playing with make-believe guns, whether finger guns or cap pistols. Thought I would share that this morning…..
”The Art of Dying”
I suppose for some of us as we get older and we become ‘AARP’ eligible…..and beyond, our minds may tend to wander from time to time pondering our end days and trying to always put into perspective the fact that ‘dying’ is just part of the normal scheme of things. Will I go gently into the night or in some much more unpleasant manner? It was in one of those personal think-tank moments that I began to think back to my days as a young boy when dying was not something to ponder or even fear but rather a talent to master as one would do were they an Olympian in quest for the gold.
I must have only been around six years old, maybe seven, when I discovered that even at that very young age there was, indeed, an apparent art to dying. With a steady diet of the Saturday afternoon matinee at the neighborhood theatre (‘picture show’ in those days of course) there was Hopalong Cassidy, Lash Larue, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger, the Cisco Kid, just to name a few who filled the screen issuing out their brand of frontier justice. And I learned early on that the bad guy couldn’t just drop to the ground dead when they got shot. No.…there was style and technique involved. I quickly noted that apparently the longer it took to hit the ground after being shot, the better. And so it was that I set out to master this talent and become the best that I could be with regard to dying.
In the beginning I would practice for hours in my small bedroom. First I had to learn how to vocally perfect that gunshot sound. Having successfully accomplished that, I would make a few gunshot sounds and fall mortally wounded across my bed but…… not before holding my gut while twitching, jerking and staggering till the fatal end finally came. There were times when it would seemingly take me at least a full minute to finally reach the point of collapse from my wounds. There were other times when after being mortally wounded and falling to the ground, I would manage to pull myself back up to my knees reaching for my adversary in one last effort of desperation, only to levy yet more gunshots at myself till I finally gave up the ghost. It was a thing of beauty! Then when I had my style and technique perfected, it was time to take my act on the road and apply it to a good game of ‘Cowboys and Indians’ with my playmates where I could finally put my dying skills to the test.
Now as it turned out, I found that if you were really good at dying your friends would holler at other friends to come over and watch you die when they shot you. Competition, however, was tough among my playmates. They all seemed to understand the importance of it all and each of them thought had a lock on the best way to die. From my viewpoint however, it was really no contest and those hours of practice were paying off.
Then a couple of years later, probably around eight or nine years old, I realized that this dying act might be a good way to impress the girls in the neighborhood whom I seemed to be taking an interest in for some reason. Sure enough….every now and then I would run across a girl who would clap with glee and jump up and down after I went through my dying act. That, by the way, is when you knew you had really made it.
Now the girls, on the other hand, didn’t have a clue as to how to die. If one would even allow me to shoot them to begin with, they just seem to collapse like a wet wash cloth. It was somewhat embarrassing and humiliating just to be close by when they did their dying act. Based on that, I would almost never shoot a girl if the rest of my gang was anywhere near. And as far as girls making gunshot sounds, it sounded a bit like someone stepping on a wet sponge. At any rate, I just don’t think the girls really understood the importance of it all.
But that was then and this is now. So now as I approach the ripe old age of 73…..and hopefully beyond, I can only hope that I can carry what I learned back then as a young boy with regard to the art of dying forward to the day when it all becomes quite real. I hope that I still possess the grace and class that I exhibited back in those much younger years when it all seemed so real – yet manifested itself in a simple game of make believe.