Short Story: “Pop The Question”
“Pop The Question”
A Rett Bonneville Story
By Anne M. Freeman©
“Dear Retta,” the e-mail began. The use of my childhood nickname told me the unsigned correspondence in my fansite’s visitor comment book was definitely someone from my childhood. I wondered whom it could be?
“I’m one of your favorite toys from your childhood,” the commenter continued.
“I am pearl on one side, sliver on the other, and I pop in the middle.” Huh? Hmmm … On second thought, that description sounded vaguely familiar. I was a little scared of the popping in the middle thing, but the silver and pearl rang a bell.
“Can’t guess? I was loud and brash, and commanded everyone’s attention.”
That actually sounded a lot like me as a kid.
Yes. How did you guess?
“OK, let me try again. You liked to hold me, and when you did, you felt very powerful.”
Good thing this is about my childhood. Otherwise, I’d delete it about now. My baseball bat? It was metal and the ball popped when I hit it just right. I definitely felt powerful when I ran around those bases and the opposing team scrambled to catch the fly, which they rarely did. But, there was no pearl on my bat. What the heck is this about! I need more clues!
“How about this: I made people run.”
We never used a toy to play tag. OK, just tell me and get this over with. I want to know now!
“If you haven’t figured it out, I’ll give you one final clue: “I DON’T!”
I burst out laughing. Eddie! And the toy was my old cap gun with the pearled handle!
“I’m assuming you’re having a good laugh by now, Retta. Yes, this is Eddie. I’m coming to town for my high school reunion, and was hoping that if I asked, ‘Will you take this man to accompany you to the high school reunion,’ that you would reply ‘I do!’ My number and e-mail are below. If you can’t go, I’d still love to see you. I’ll be in town for a few days. Give me a shout.
I printed the page and read it again, still laughing. Eddie, Alan, and my best friend from childhood, Barbara, used to play together a lot when we were kids. We went through a funny stage one summer in early grade school when we our parents let us buy our cap guns.
Nearly every weekend, the boys would chase us around and eventually capture us, and lead us back to their “hideout,” which was actually a small deck that wrapped around a huge oak tree in Eddie’s back yard. Once in the hideout, the boys threatened to marry us and make us kiss them after the “I Do’s” – a fate worse than death! Kooties and all that stuff.
We had many “almost” double weddings that summer. I always paired with Eddie, and Barbara paired with Alan. Of course, we girls had our cap guns hiding beneath our shirts, tucked in our waist bands. When the “I Dos” came in our ad hoc ceremony (with the boys conveniently serving as grooms and priests simultaneously), they would close their eyes and pucker their lips. Barbara and I then yelled “I DON’T!” and pulled our cap guns out blasting.
After the requisite yelling, action and drama, we’d make our escape from the hideout and shoot Eddie and Alan dead. The boys would throw themselves into complicated death scenes with much groaning, grimacing, and falling off the deck. Barbara and I would stand laughing on the sidelines, clapping and hooting for our favorite death scene.
I think we spend an entire summer playing this game, with several different versions to keep up the interest. After summer ended, we never played that particular game again. At least not that version of it, not until we played it again for real in our twenties, but with other partners and with more subtle death scenes….
I e-mailed Eddie and wrote, “I Do!” with a smile on my face. It would be good to see Eddie again, catch up with all the news. But, I was definitely going to be prepared for our evening together. I picked up the phone and called Mother to see if she had that old cap gun packed away somewhere …