One of my favourite holiday specials has to be A Christmas Story. Tongues stuck on frozen poles, that kick-ass lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg, and of course, the Red Rider 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle.
But as much as “you’ll shoot your eye out” still makes me laugh, my Dad’s personal Christmas BB gun story from when he was a kid makes me laugh harder.
Now I don’t know what Christmas in the 50s was like. I’m assuming it involved things like walking uphill both ways to get to Midnight Mass and fighting off woolly mammoths while looking for a Christmas tree. In any case, it would be a Christmas to remember as my Dad and my Uncle Ted got the BB gun they had been asking for.
Excited to try out their new “toy”, Dad and Ted raced to the barn to play. A sensible starting point would have been shooting at old tin cans or something. However, the decided that taking turns shooting at each other was a better idea.
Dad raced around the barn as Ted took aim. Crouching inside a pigpen, Dad took cover and waited for the right moment to make a run for it. He chose the wrong moment. The second he popped his head out Ted took the shot.
And Uncle Ted’s always been a good shot.
The BB lodged itself millimeters below Dad’s eye. Terrified of getting in trouble–and certain that they’d lose the gun if she found out what happened–Ted tried his hand at ocular surgery. Apparently attempting to dislodge a pellet from your brother’s bloody eye in a dirty, manure- and dust-filled barn was less scary than facing my grandmother’s wrath.
Unable to pop the BB out of Dad’s eye (which was now completely swollen shut), the two snuck back inside the house and hoped to avoid grandma. Thankfully a boy with a BB lodged in his eye is hard not to notice and grandma rushed Dad to the hospital. They never saw the BB gun again. Dad spent five days as an inpatient getting daily needles in his butt to ward off infections. And the surgeon told him that an eighth of an inch higher and he’d have lost the eye. A memorable Christmas to say the least.
And on a related note, My Uncle Ted has been an avid hunter ever since.
Moral of the story: Own up to your mistakes. Things could have ended a whole lot worse if Dad and Uncle Ted succeeded in hiding the bloody incident from grandma. Facing the consequences for your actions can be scary and unpleasant. But trying to cover up your problems can often make things a lot worse. Don’t let pride, embarrassment or fear prevent you from getting the help you need when you’re in over your head… or are lying in a pigpen with a BB in your eye.
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Funny stories. Good advice. Check out my books, “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” and “Balancing Priorities and Prioritizing Balance”. Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy. Thanks!