If I’m bitter about anything from my childhood, it’s that I wasn’t allowed to play laser tag. Not that the opportunity never presented itself (trust me, it did) but that my parents didn’t let me. My dad is a serious pacifist, and I think the idea of my running around shooting people with a gun, even if fake, was too much for him to bear. I also wasn’t allowed to watch PG-13 rated movies until I was, like, fourteen. (I secretly still did at my friends’ houses, but Austin Powers isn’t even funny when you don’t get penis jokes)(actually, come to think of it, it’s not when you do, either).
I think that my parents were trying to protect me, that they thought simulated “violent” images would scar me. And to be fair, I cried a lot the first time I saw Bambi. (I’m sensitive, okay?). But really “protecting me from violence” just scarred me in a different way.
When I was ten, a close friend had a laser-tag birthday party, and I couldn’t go. I was never a cool kid, so not getting to attend what felt like the coolest party ever, made me feel like my social life was over. I also frequently had to turn down invitations to see PG-13 movies with my friends. Obviously none of that really mattered in the long run, but despite realizing now that my parents were actually awesome, I’m still a little bitter about the laser tag.
So last summer, much to my liberal father’s horror, I went to an actual shooting range to shoot actual guns.
With my mom.
On a whim, we’d decided to take a class, “Level 1: Basic Personal Protection,” an eight-hour, two-night course most people take in order to qualify for a handgun carry permit. We had absolutely no desire to attain such a license, but we both were completely clueless about weapons (unless you count my mom’s tai chi sword? No, let’s not) and thought the shared experience would be, well, hilarious.