It’s a weekday at the Follis household, and 12-year-old non-identical twins Button and Pout are headed downstairs — getting ready for school. This morning, the girls are being “difficult.”
“Mom,” Pout began, “those flak vests you got on sale at Ammo Dump® are gross! Dustin Beaver is so out! We wanted No Direction! And those trauma plates you bought us are embarrassing — Mutually Assured Destruction® is a cheap knock-off line. All the cool kids are wearing Terminate With Extreme Prejudice®!”
Button followed: “The Johnsons are getting bazookas! Commander LaPierre says the only thing that stops a bad guy with a bazooka is a good guy with a bazooka! And the Vangs — they just got their own cruise missile! It’s so cool! Commander LaPierre says it’s the kwindasenshul self-defense weapon! What’s kwindasenshul?”
“As you know, girls,” Mrs. Follis responded patiently, “your father has been out of work since his flamethrower accident, and things have been kind of tight. We’re doing the best we can, but we can’t keep shopping at fancy stores like KillZone®. And I’m afraid we just can’t afford the kind of firepower some of your friends have.”
Pout wasn’t through: “Mom, that volunteer security guard at school is creepy! He has these long hairs growing out of his nose. And he trembles, Mom. He trembles! Last week, he winged my math teacher with his sidearm. Mom, he’s scary!”
“Oh, Pout,” Mrs. Follis countered calmly, “you’re exaggerating. First of all, sidearms don’t wing people, people wing people. And each and every one of those heroic volunteers has been hand-picked by Commander LaPierre. Anyway, sweetheart, that nice man apologized afterwards — an armed society is a polite society. And, girls,” she added, “as I recall from parent-teacher conferences, your math instructor is completely encased in body armor.”
It was a good point. Button sighed. Pout pouted.
“So why all this complaining?” Mom continued, concerned. “You can just thank your lucky stars and stripes you live in a country where the courts entertain a robust reading of the Second Amendment! You know, there are places in this world where kids aren’t allowed to be armed, where every night, boys and girls go to bed without guns!”
“M-om!” Button whined, “that’s not true! It, it can’t be!”
”Yeah,” Pout accused, “you’re just making that up to scare us!”
Determined, Mom soldiered on, invoking her most hurt tone: “Button and Pout, you’re privileged to be part of a nation that respects and cherishes the God-given right of each and every citizen — no matter their age or their origins — to participate fully and deeply in its escalating spiral of gun violence. You should be grateful for your freedom!”
“Gosh, Mom,” the now-humbled girls muttered in unison, “we’re sorry; we weren’t thinking.”
“OK, then,” chirped Mom, mollified. “Now, Button, Daddy oiled the grenade launcher on your Terminatress®, and Pout, I put an extra box of hollow-points in your backpack. For snacks for you both — Chocolate Chip Banana Clips®! You know,” she paused lovingly, “you both look so pretty in your Beckie® ballistic helmets.”
“Thanks, Mom!” Button brightened. “I like pink!” Pout rolled her eyes.
“Now before you go, girls, let’s hear our family motto.”
“Do we have to?” Pout pleaded. “Oh … OK ….”
“Trust in the Lord … ,” Button began.
“But have a bigger gun,” Pout added perfunctorily.
“And,” Button finished with a giggle, “better body armor!”
“Oh, you two!” Mom gushed. “Now, don’t be late for your armored-personnel carrier, and come home right after school: We’ll deploy for dinner at seventeen-hundred hours. We’re having those crunchy little Hand-Grenade Potatoes!® you like so much.”
“Oh, boy!” cried the pleased twins, chanting the popular ad slogan: “They explode in your mouth and not in your hands!”
Mrs. Follis chuckled warmly, adding, “My, for flat characters, you girls are so much fun! Mommy loves you; be safe!”
—Paul Dougan lives in Lafayette
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