And then there's us Frickens. On the rare occasion that we Frickens know what we want, it is usually out of reach, out of bounds, or out of stock. Take the typical case of one Rascal Fricken.
Rascal is twelve. Rascal loves his first person shooter video games. Rascal incessantly stalks around the house making machine gun noises with his lips. Yes, we are worried about Rascal. Rascal decided that nerf guns and paintball markers weren't doing it for him. He wanted an airsoft rifle. For the uninitiated, Airsoft are 12mm plastic beebee guns that often are the same size, weight and feel of the original military rifle they are based upon. They are used by military fanboys to simulate the combat they will hopefully never see but idolize just the same. Rascal doesn't have anyone to simulate combat with so i guess he just wants a more realistic toy for when he stalks around the house and make machine gun noises with his lips.
Regardless the validity of the dream, Rascal wanted an Airsoft gun. Rascal plotted, scrimped, saved and strategized. He located the particular gun he wanted and could afford, found a website and brought it to me. i warned him to do research on the website and the gun. He claimed to have done both. The purchase was made and the cold, hard, calicifying lesson in reality began.
When i was a kid, if you ordered something, you knew how long it was going to take to get it. Allow six to eight weeks for delivery. That was the mantra. That's why it was funny when Wile E. Coyote put an order form in the mailbox, stood there for fifteen seconds and got his ACME Little Giant Flying Saucer Kit without leaving the mailbox. Nowadays, kids don't laugh at that. Cuz that's actually the way it is. You click a mouse and the Ups guy is knocking on your door. This is the age of On Demand, OnStar and instant mashed potatoes.
Or, at least that's usually how it is. Apparently Monster Airsoft.com is still using that old Speedy Delivery guy on the bicycle from Mr. Rogers' neighborhood. Have you ever been trapped in a house with a twelve year old who is waiting for the one thing he thinks is going to make his life complete? One of these days i'm going to have to try waterboarding so i can see if there's a comparison. It's like taking a trip to Grandma's that's five weeks long. i have no idea how people used to travel by ship. It's amazing any children survived after the first month of "Are we there yet?"
One week of "Do you think it will come today?" shy of an infanticide, it arrived. i'm not sure who was more relieved. After some assembly being required Rascal took his new toy outside and perforated the box it had come in with a thousand 12mm holes. And he was happy.
For approximately six hours. That's when the trigger broke. The next day the cleaning rod snapped and the simulated M203 grenade launcher under the barrel quit cocking. It became obvious to me that twelve year olds caught in the first blush of young lust are not to be trusted to do good research. So i wrote the company. The company rather bluntly directed me to their fine print. i wrote the company a slightly angrier letter. They agreed to credit us to another purchase from their stock. We sent the rifle back to them, yes, in the perforated box, i thought it a fitting show of our affection. About a month later the company responded with, not a letter to me, but a forwarded, inter-office memo from one schmuck in their warehouse to another schmuck in their warehouse about how he fixed the trigger and it should work as long as "no one tries to pull the trigger while the safety's on." i didn't complain too much about the sarcasm as this is exactly what my older boy had done. But i reminded them of the other malfunctions and waited another month.
Eventually they got around to telling me that they would give me the credit after all because one of their warehouse schmucks dropped the rifle and it broke in half. No foolin', that's what they said. Never mind that i had told them i didn't want the original gun back anyhow. By now, Christmas was approaching. The cost difference between the gun Rascal had bought and the "quality" guns was another c-note so Mum and i told Rascal that maybe if he picked out another, better grade gun, he might get some Christmas money to help. Rascal was in the dream factory now. A whole new arsenal had opened up to him. He chose a space-age looking Austrian job with picatinny rails for future scopes and grenade launchers. He made his selection and when his head was turned the elves went to work ordering it. Having some experience with how these schmucks operate, i kept a close tab on the status of our order. The order was confirmed on the seventh of December. On the fifteenth, they notified us that the item we had ordered, which was in stock on the seventh, really wasn't in stock but had to be ordered by them. We could expect it in 3-5 business days. Ten days later, on Christmas Eve, through a series of unfortunate events, we finally held the box in our hands. Something told me i should open it but it was Christmas Eve and i had a chance to have all of the gifts wrapped by midday for the first time in my life. i wrapped the gun without opening it.
Rascal has been a pretty good sport about it all. Especially when he opened it up on Christmas day, the day he had now been looking forward to since September. The day where dreams seem possible. Even if those dreams only involve more realistic Austrian designed focuses for machine gun noises made with your lips. He saved it for last.
The very last present.
It was a gun.
It hasn't broke yet.
It's not the one we ordered. Coincidentally, it's a model that's fifty dollars cheaper than the one we ordered and doesn't work with the scope that his Grandma picked up for it. But one good thing came out of it all. i haven't been asked in over a week, "Do you think it will come today?" Well, not by Rascal anyway.
It's a shame that it wasn't a real gun though. That would have come in handy for getting our money back.