Around this time last year, I found myself thumbing idly through the back pages of some magazines looking for something to stuff in my (own) Christmas stocking. Presently I came to an ad for a BB gun that shoots 3,000 BBs a minute, and right away I knew I would have to have it.
My first BB gun, a circa-1960 Daisy lever action, shot approximately one BB per minute. Naturally any country that can put a man on the moon was bound to improve on that rate of fire. I sent off my $49.95 plus $5.50 for "handling."
It sat in my closet for a couple of months. What do you do with a BB gun that shoots 3,000 BBs per minute if you live in a big city? For a time I would look menacingly at the pigeons outside my bedroom window, thinking, If only you knew what I could do to you if I really wanted to. But still the gun sat in the cardboard box.
Every now and then I would take it out and show it to someone after dinner. My like-minded male friends are almost always impressed, but they ask the question my wife has been asking me for the past year, "What do you do with it?" I talk darkly of revenge on the pigeons that roost on the lamppost and sully my patio, but my friends understand this is hollow bravado, and the conversation soon turns back to such as sushi and "Miami Vice."
So I am left with a BB gun that shoots 3,000 rounds a minute -- and the catalogues. The purveyor of the BB gun has sold my name to every survivalist mail-order house in the country. For those looking for stocking stuffers, I offer the following possibilities.
One catalogue offers the "Mega Dart -- The Ultimate Power Dart
Gun." This is the Michael Korda version of a
blow gun. It looks like a cross between a Heckler and Koch machine gun and a slingshot. "Great for small game, pesky rodents," says the description. Also in this catalogue we have the "Pistol Crossbow," which provides "Power-Packed Target Fun," and the "CIA Letter Opener." Why the latter is called that is not clear, but if you feel the urge to drive a plastic knife through three-quarter- inch plywood, this is the thing for you.
Another outfitter seems to be the Hammacher-Schlemmer of "action equipment," as it is called on the cover, slick and expensive. For under $20 you can own the "Doughboy's Dagger," a combination brass-knuckle and imposing six-inch knife. Indispensable, probably, in many domestic situations. But remember to "check local ordinances before ordering."
Going to an "unstable country"? Then you'll be glad to know about the "Executive Pen Set," a combination ball-point and steel shaft. "You can mince more than words with this exceptional personal defense product."
Want to "Make 'Em Cry For Help"? Then you want tear gas, friend, and lots of it. There are enough tear gas dispensers -- "tear jerkers" -- here to quiet all of South Africa, with enough left over to quell the southern half of Mozambique.
Skipping over the bulletproof vest, handcuffs, gas masks and "Frag-tastic" grenade paper weights, we arrive at the "Make My Day" section. My favorite item here is the push-button knife: "Intended to look like an elegant "high-tech" pen, it is in essence both a rugged survival knife and gentile (sic, or perhaps it's meant to be the perfect gift for one's non-Jewish friends) pen knife."
But all that is soft core compared with what one company in Georgia has to offer.
We'll call them BQ. BQ is very fashion conscious, and though Halston and Bill Blass are not represented here, the Special Air Service, NATO and Uzi line are, so the range of combat smocks and jumpsuits is wide. For madame there is the "Camo Compact," with five drab colors. Or better yet, surprise your wife with the Thor Electronic Personal Defense System. Just "press the trigger to zap an attacker with 47,000 volts of nonlethal electricity that disables the neuromuscular response." Don't forget the Leather Concealing Pouch "for discrete use."
Santa's elves have been hard at work here. The ingenious little rascals have come up with something called "The Guardfather." It looks like a ball point pen designed by Krupp. A flick of this little baby and a four-inch "ordnance steel shaft" pops out. I couldn't decide between it and the "Executive Ice Pick -- It's Back!" (And it was missed.) Why poke a steel shaft through someone when you can "air cool" him?
I didn't find anything I truly needed under the "Rope Deployment Systems," although I am beginning to think my wife would look fairly fetching in the Uzi Battle Harness. At first I thought the "Urban Skinner" was for skinning your attacker after you've given his neuromuscular system a taste of 47,000 nonlethal volts, but it turns out just to be "an ideal 'back-up' weapon for official or unofficial use by law abiding citizens."
Mildred, I told you to keep the Thor charged!
I still haven't figured out what the BB gun is for, but have settled on the "Original Swiss Army Knife" with its can opener and screwdriver for this year, and have ordered it. The new catalogues are arriving, and I now seem to be on the list of several major defense contractors.
The postman, meanwhile, is alarmed.