|Shoot Club: Saving Private Donny|
TomChick - Columns - Comments - 07/11/04
By Tom Chick
My friend Trevor is over at my house with his nephew Donny. We're playing Wario Ware on the Gamecube, but Donny's not really interested. When it came time to make a man jump on a banana, he pronounced it 'gay' and put the controller down. So now it's down to me as a dancing cat and Trevor as some kind of alien in sunglasses and a cape. Donny's reading the manual for Manhunt. He's pretty psyched that you can kill someone with a plastic bag.
"Put that away, Donny," Trevor says, successfully jamming a finger into a nostril to pass the round. "It's rated M. No way."
"I can read the booklet. The booklet isn't rated M."
"Come on, Donny."
"You guys are so uncool. Seriously."
I smack a piece of wood with a woodpecker, opening the way for a squirrel to run into a tree.
Now Trevor has to fly a paper airplane through a maze. "Argh, I can't figure this one out!" He crashes the airplane and now no one is watching his alien dance while my cat keeps grooving in front of an audience. I win.
"Hey, what's that?" Donny asks me.
"What do you mean? It's a phone."
Donny's looking at the old phone I got from my Mom's house. I've had it ever since I got my first apartment when I was in college. It even has a dial.
"What's this for?" Donny's tugging on the cord. "So it doesn't get lost?"
Donny's fourteen. It's funny how some kids have never seen a telephone handset with a cord, or don't understand the snowy TV screen in Poltergeist, or think that Rush is a talk show host and not a band.
"Hey, check it out," Donny says, picking up the handset. "Fire support coordinates, 500 meters at bearing three one seven."
"How does he know what that is?"
"We've been watching Platoon and Saving Private Ryan," Trevor says, setting up the Card-e Cards game, even though neither of us has figured out how it works.
"I need napalm on that treeline and I need it now, lieutenant!" Donny barks into the phone.
"I thought he wasn't allowed to see R rated movies?"
"Yeah, but his parents say those are educational, so they bought him those DVDs."
"Does he like them?"
"Platoon sucks almost as bad as Windtalkers," Donny says, "That guy from Spin City is in it. Where's my goddamn napalm commander?"
"We watch the first part of Saving Private Ryan a lot," Trevor says.
"That part rocks where that guy's face is blown off. Oh, hey, there's someone on your phone. I didn't even hear it ring."
Donny hands me the phone. It's my ex-girlfriend Lisa.
"What was Donny saying about someone's face getting blown off?" she asks. "Are you playing violent games with him again?" Lisa has always been very protective of Donny. She used to babysit for him when he was younger.
"No, he was talking about Saving Private Ryan."
"Look, I just called to tell you I think I left my photo albums over there with your high school year books. I need those back."
"To show your new boyfriend?"
"Would you grow up? Those are family things. It has nothing to do with him. Besides, I know you've been going out."
"Going out? I had one date."
And how did she know?
"Well, I'm happy for you. I always said you needed to get out more."
That wasn't the response I wanted. She didn't even ask me who the girl was.
"Anyway, since I know you guys will be around tomorrow night, I thought I'd drop by and get my photo albums. Is that okay?"
"Yeah, fine, whatever. But you can't stay. It's Shoot Club."
"Please. You couldn't pay me enough to stay. I love your friends, but not when they're all farting on each other and playing, I don't know, that Quake game or whatever it is."
"Quake? You are so out of touch. Look, my other line is beeping, I gotta go."
I'm hoping Lisa will think it's another girl on the other line. It sort of is. It's Donny's mom. He has to come home because she just got the call about what happened to his brother -- her son -- in Iraq.