pm 7:09 Sunday 8 February 2004
My stepfather, for his part, was still on a campaign to make me
say, "Yes, Sir," and "No, Sir," to everything
he said, and in exasperation, my mother took me aside and asked
me to pretend. So I did.
And soon I was supposed to say, "Yes, Ma'am," and "No,
Ma'am," to Mom, and the maids were supposed to call them "Mister
Jimmy" and "Miss June." And they did.
That was the order of things.
So in this context I arrived home from summer camp in 1954 and
without thinking about it, really, asked mom if I could go to a
rifle range and experiment with target counterweights.
"You don't know anything about guns," Mister Jimmy sneered
from the other side of the table.
"You're kidding!" I said.
Say, "Yes, Sir!"
"Listen," I began ...
"You don't know the first thing about guns," he interrupted
"You know, up in my room I have a Certificate of Safety from
the National Rifle Association, three more certificates and three
medals. I'm a Junior Marksman, a Marksman 2nd Class, and a Marksman!"
"You don't know the first thing about guns," he repeated
more forcefully, who, after all, had been a Lieutenant Commander
in the Navy, and knew how to give orders!
I couldn't believe he was saying this, disputing tangible evidence
in my own room, where I also had the arrow I had feathered and painted,
three lanyards, and the black tin cup from metal working shop.