Pwish. Plink. Kerplunk. "I'll set 'em up again," I said as my little brother reloaded the BBs. Dad, calling out from the front porch, asked, "What are you kids doing?" We responded in unison, "Shooting soda cans." It was the mid '70s, BB guns weren't an issue and this was what you did when you grew up in a rural part of town.
"Let me have a shot," Dad said. As he pumped the gun, he turned to us and offered what seemed to be a deal – an opportunity – too good to pass up. "I'll bet you fifty cents that even with a 20 second lead I can hit you with a BB." (I know what you're thinking, and you're right – good times.) Timmy turned to me wide-eyed, but not in wonder, it was more like fear; while I, on the other hand, stared back with eyebrows raised as I took in the possibility of it all. Fifty cents? Hey, that was a couple of packs of chewing gum back then.
"I'll have a 20 second lead?" I needed to verify some particulars before making my final decision. "Yup." "And you get one shot?" "Right." Hmm… I could run pretty fast… He won't hit me… Uhhmmm… "Alright, you're on," I blurted out with great enthusiasm.
As my adrenaline began to pump, my dad pumped the gun. "Go," he yelled, and I took off running. I ran for all I was worth and as I neared the woods, I heard the shot – PWOOSH – sail right past me. Quite pleased with myself, I strode back toward my dad and brother. Almost simultaneously, I said, "Well, I did it," as my dad said, "Double or nothing I'll get you with just a 10 second lead." No time to bask in the glory, I guess. Hmm… only a 10 second lead this time? Still charged by my victory high, I accepted the challenge. "I'll do it!"
4-3-2-1, PWOOSH. Missed again. "Ha, I'm like lightning," I called out, "You owe me one dollar!" Then he said these fatherly words that I will never forget, "Double or nothing I'll get you this time." (Parenting was different then.) "You're on!" You have to remember, at this point, I was running for two bucks. Two dollars was a lot of money back in 1976.
3-2-1, PWOOSH – PWULPT! I was hit. That BB got me in the back of my right thigh just below my butt. I went down with my hand clasped to my leg, "Arghhh!" As I rolled on the ground writhing in pain, my dad walked over to me. And with the BB still deeply embedded in my leg, held tightly beneath my white-knuckled hand, he said these words: "Gambling does not pay."
The welt only lasted a few days, the lesson a lifetime.