Sunday, February 02, 2014

Starters, non-starters and apps

There we were, sitting across a square table from one another. A platter of “fun food” in between us and nary a smartphone in sight. The whole family. In a restaurant. Having a nice time. Just talking.

What are the odds?

As is usual for us, a round-robin of non-sequitur arguments changes the course of conversation as if we were speaking in pinball.

“The doctors' office had new fish, but I hit a bank shot off the jungle gym and taco Tuesday has been replaced by can I have new sneakers?

I could tell you how we got on the subject of gun control, but it would take too long, and the bells and lights from that silver ball's awkward trajectory would be even more maddening than the thousand versions of the single question my six-year-old and 10-year old had already started to ask: “When will our food get here?”

Let's suffice it to say my husband sprung the ball into the maze, it dinged off of the Champ, lit up Ittybit, and somehow it got stuck under my flipper, tilting the machine.

Here's the gist of what I tried to impress upon my family:

"Every state should have a Department of Firearms (just like the Department of Motor Vehicles) that licenses gun owners and registers guns by class. Initial licenses would be awarded after successful completion of written, field and background tests, and periodic renewals would require repeated background checks. Furthermore, gun owners would be required to carry liability insurance for each firearm in their possession. Let the risk pools float where they may."

In other words: Let's just lay these cards out on the actuarial table ...

"Sure, you can have that AR-15, but if you are under 25 or have teenagers at home, it is going to put you in a higher risk pool. Accident or not, you will be liable for damages."

I mean if you injured someone with your car you'd be liable.

We don't just say: Hey, here's your car. Try not to kill someone, OK?

No! We say: 'You need to be licensed, the car has to be registered and inspected. And if you abuse this privilege you can expect to have all of that stuff revoked.'

Why is the right to bear arms more inalienable than the right not to be shot in your school by a gun enthusiast's alienated teenager?


The conversation I thought we were having disappeared.

The kids had tuned me out right after the word “Department,” so their glazed expressions, by the time I got to “Liability Insurance,” wasn't much of a surprise.

But my husband, lost in the bluish light of his smartphone, made me forget about my being lost in a mire of my own monologue.

I fumed as he furiously typed away on his cell phone..

"You know ... I hardly ever speak to other human beings during the day ... the least you could do is humor me at dinner."

He smiled and handed me his phone.

Still on the screen was a familiar icon, with a message that began:

"Thank you for contacting the White House ... "

"I told them 'my wife has a brilliant idea. ...'

Betcha didn't know there's an app for that."

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