breakfast, Canada, clapping games, guns, Ikea, Mary Mack All Dressed in Black, police, seniors, USA, violence
We were just having breakfast on Monday morning. That’s it. Hilda, my gorgeous Mexican amiga, and I have been coming here for years to eat the $1 special — how can you beat it. Two sausages, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes all for $1 — add 50 cents more and you get refillable coffee or tea. Sure, I suffer from gas for two days afterwards, but hey, the price is right and it tastes ok going down as long as you sop the grease off the sausages before you eat them (Hilda — looking out for my health — demonstrated that for me on one of our first visits). Then, wonders-of-wonders, afterwards, you just have to take a few steps out of the restaurant and you’re in the amazing put-it-together-yourself world of Ikea where you always buy something you didn’t know you needed when you walked in.
Usually, the other breakfast eaters are all seniors like ourselves, fortifying our tummies without depleting our wallets. But summer seemed to bring out frustrated mothers who, by the end of July, were running out of adventures for their bored children. The place was packed with them. Hilda and I, being the veterans that we are, knew to secure our window perch before getting our food.
I didn’t hear them at first. Hilda and I were in deep catch-up mode and oblivious of the murmur of conversation around us. But, like a gnat buzzing my nose, I eventually heard it. A sing-song chant just loud enough to sneak into my ear and, then, my consciousness. Two little girls, twins by the looks of them, were playing one of those clapping games. (I love clapping games. One of the joys of my friendship with Finn, my next door sweetheart, was teaching him at age 2 to clap out Mary Mack. He was a natural.)
But this was no Mary Mack, no sireee. “Bang, bang, bang — shoot!” was what these sweet-looking, innocent, smiling girls were chanting. The game seemed to be a combination of clapping and Rock-Scissors. Whoever reached the “shoot” part first and got that finger out and pointed at the other was the winner. I wanted to go over and talk to them about their choice of games — steer them into less “violent” clapping-material. I could teach them “Oh Mary Mack, Mack, Mack all dressed in Black, Black, Black…” or even an easier “A Sailor went to Sea, Sea, Sea …”. Maybe these classics were just not part of their repertoire and they would thank me for expanding their clapping experience. But I didn’t move from my scrambled eggs.
It really bothered me. Yeah, I know, I played pretend-shoot-up-gun games with my brothers when I was their age. My brothers, being the “boys”, always seemed to get to have the pretend finger-gun and I, one of the girls, was delegated to the bad guy role who always got shot. I hated being dead. I would usually start moving around on the ground until one of them would yell at me, “You can’t move, Annie! You’re dead!” That’s when I would start crying and go play with my dolls instead. It was all pretend. And that was the 1950s and not now.
I had innocently hoped that all gun playing was passe — pretend and otherwise. Cap pistols a thing of the past. Didn’t Finn have a water pump instead of a squirt gun to soak me with from his balcony?
I think the little girls clapping-game and their “Bang, bang, bang, shoot” bothered me so much because it happened just a couple of days after an 18-year old was shot on a streetcar by the police. There was a video. I cried as I watched it and wondered why they couldn’t have just talked to him until he got tired of holding the knife.
Guns. I hate them no matter who is holding out their finger.
And this happened right here in Oh Canada not in my more gun-loving homeland of the US of A, where, according to this article I saw in the Toronto Star over the weekend, designers are creating bags for women to carry their now-legal concealed weapons in style. It’s scary. I know that there are a lot more guns there than here. It always makes me a wee bit — no a lot — nervous when I cross the border to visit my family. (I choose to believe that none of them own a weapon…concealed or otherwise. If anyone does, please don’t tell me. It will make me sadder still.)
Maybe I should have gone over and talked to those girls at Ikea on Monday. Taught them all the words and clapping to Mary Mack, Mack, Mack, All Dressed in Black, Black, Black With Silver Buttons Buttons Buttons All Down Her Back Back Back… But I didn’t. Maybe they’ll learn them on their own and forget all about the Bang, Bang, Bang Shoot!
This is very powerful. You should send it to the Globe or Star!
I am so enjoying your thoughtful entries. I agree with Judith, get this one out there as a letter to the editor. love to your day. CB
Julie S Martine said:
Tis a harsher world when children play and sing “Bang, Bang shoot” – rather than Mary Mack, Mack, Mack… the thing with hand-rhyme games is that they impact in several ways – I can feel my hands clapping, hear the sing-song of the words and hear our giggles whenever I think of it today. jsm