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Squirtgun Follies

I've used a squirtgun to maliciously dampen the crotch of someone's pants.

They had committed, you see, a squirtgun offense -- a social wrong so clear, yet so subtle, sneaky, and minor that it was not worth making a huge fuss over -- and I nailed him. In the groin. With my squirtgun.

I was, I believe, 14. I had my first summer job: I was working for the mother of the local branch of the insanely talented and insanely numerous Alaskan Bush Pilot Violinist clan. She ran a sweet little business selling instrument equipment and swag, specializing in violin/viola/violoncello strings, rosin, and practice tapes for the Suzuki method. There was a week-long intensive study program, so naturally, she would set up shop there, so parents could quickly and easily buy replacements for broken strings, lost rosin, scrambled tapes, busted or suddenly-too-small shoulder rests, as well as far-too-cute music-oriented gifts. Back in 1994, the program was still being held on the UAF campus, in the arts wing, so she set up her table in the Great Hall, right in front of the Charles W. Davis Concert Hall. It was a prime location -- central to the camp, in the biggest unoccupied area, and everyone had to pass through there at least once a day. Most people congregated there for lunch, and she had the forethought to sell drinks and snacks that were both slightly healthier and slightly cheaper than the vending machine fare across the room. It was a very well-thought-out business presentation, as she'd been doing this for several years. But since she had about five kids, all in different stages of musical development and general ability to be allowed to run around campus unsecured, she had to be in seven places at once, and had to hire a stand-in for the table for most of the day. And that was me.

I took my job seriously, and handled the cashiering position as smoothly and efficiently as a teenager without much previous work experience and a lunchtime crowd of stressed-out violin camp parents can. So when one little punk decided that I was a perfect (sitting) target for his pranks, I was steamed. I was supposed to be doing my job right, for crying out loud, and here was this brat kid who was old enough to know better. The proprietress, in her infinite wisdom, had gotten a bunch of pinwheels this year, and had them priced at about $0.50 -- all the kids got them. The brat kid got one, his little sister got one, his little sister's endless parade of fluffy pink little girl associates begged their moms for quarters for snacks and toys and got them. I'd been having a difficult enough time before FatherSir decided to show the kids how to shoot spitwads with the hollow yellow plastic tube stems. This ringleader, a boy about a year younger than my kid sister and therefore about three years younger than me, nailed the portrait of Charles W. Davis right between the eyes before turning his aim to more irritable targets, such as me.

It didn't help matters that he had an hour break in the schedule of his morning classes, and had presumably been instructed by his mother to stay in the general area of the Great Hall or risk her wrath. This left him effectively unsupervised within my domain. When a kid much in need of supervision is left within my domain, I will take over supervision, and take it personally when the kid decides to break all the rules of decent behaviour on my watch, especially when I hadn't a way to enforce my proclamations. After he tired of shooting spitwads, he decided to wind me up in other ways, by messing with the merchandise, pretending to shoplift, and other activities calculated to send me into a towering tizzy of impotent teenage Fayoumis-Clan-Patented rage.

"Can't you DO something about them?" I must have railed to my parents, the proprietress, and perhaps even the mother of the brat in question. No one was much help, mostly because there isn't much that you can do with eleven-ish-year-old boys short of binding them with duct-tape and staking them out in the yard if they've decided that they're going to be obnoxious.

I was determined that I was going to handle this with dignity and grace, if at all possible, but I didn't know how.

My birthday fell during the event, and someone gave me an adorable little SuperSoaker 10, with a tiny blue plastic tank, a yellow handle, a pink pumping plunger on the bottom of the handle, and an aggressively orange nozzle. It was just the right size to be stuffed in a jeans pocket. I fell in love with the device and its amazing range (especially as pressurized squirtguns were very new at this time) and the utterly adorable and neatly concealable size. I determined that I would bring it to work with me, and whip it out to let the punk know I meant business when I told him to cut it out.

Sure enough, the kid decided to mess with me yet again. He sauntered up to the table during his morning break, and pretended to be interested in buying a particularly gaudy bit of music kitsch. "Cut it out, I'm warning you," I whined at him.

He looked at me, smirked, and lifted the item off the table and started to turn away.

I'd had the little squirtgun pulled out of my pocket and cradled in my hands, out of sight, the entire time. I leveled it under the table, aimed it for him the best I could, and pulled the trigger. The thin stream of water shot out of the nozzle, under the table, and directly into the crotch of the obnoxious kid's khaki pants.

I nearly fell over laughing. I hadn't anticipated that my aim would be quite that excellent. I also hadn't anticipated the guy's little sister and her retinue of obnoxious little girls would take notice. "Your brother wet his pa-aaants," they taunted, pointing at the wet spot on the brat kid's groin. "He wet his pa-ants. Look who's a baaa-by."

"I didn't! She had a squirtgun! She shot me!" he protested. I looked innocent.

"Pants-wetter!" the little girls squealed at him.

Ahh, the sweet sound of mockery in the morning. I smirked to myself as I straightened the table, secure in the knowledge that this brat boy would not be messing with me again.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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