It Sounded Good

One day I decided to send my adopted soldier a toy. So I asked a few guys at work what childhood item they would love to have right now. Video games were out because I wasn’t sure what systems (if any) my soldier had access to. Or how reliable things like electricity were. No, I wanted to go old school, low-tech, and it had to fit in a flat-rate box.

Out of the suggestions given, I picked one I never heard of. Why? Because I thought the name sounded good. It sounded nostalgic. Like something invented in the 50s that Opie Taylor might use in Mayberry down by the fishing hole. To me, the name also had a hint of romance about space exploration. The toy I picked was the wrist-rocket slingshot.

I had never seen one before but it was easy to find online. I also ordered the “accessories” which in this case were extra rubber bands and small metal balls. After all, how fun is a toy without the parts? I imagined my soldier opening this box and being flooded with happy childhood memories. I pictured him going to the “backyard” of his remote brick hut in the mountains of Afghanistan to play with his buddies. Or maybe he’d bring it as a welcome diversion when he went to the even more remote outpost he’d work at for weeks at a time.

Combat Outpost in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan

Not Mayberry.

Sweet shots

After my soldier came home, I got the 411 on various packages I had sent. I wanted to figure out which ones were the best ideas. The wrist-rocket came up.

ME:  Did you like it? Did you guys use it?

HIM: Oh yeah it was great! What was really funny is some other guys got Frisbees the same day and they were playing outside. Then I walked out wearing my wrist-rocket slingshot, they were pissed and jealous…lol.  So I shot them with the marshmallow hearts that Sofia sent. (Sofia is my daughter)

ME:  Why didn’t you use the little metal balls?

HIM:  You mean the ammo? Because I didn’t want to kill someone. 

It didn’t dawn on me that the accessories were ammo. When I mentioned this to another solider I was pen pals with, he told me he had received a wrist-rocket slingshot as well. A church sorority group made up of very lovely 70-year-old women had adopted him. They sent him care packages with beef jerky, soup, shower shoes (flip-flops) and hygiene items. Then one day he got the slingshot. “I think someone’s grandson had a hand in that package…lol.” He did not use the ammo either. He used Jolly Rancher candy as projectiles. Then he would “help” the other soldiers during marksmanship practice by shooting their legs. “Hey, you have to be able to handle distractions. I was being a distraction.”

In the end…

I asked my adopted soldier if he brought it home and he said no. It seems he was concerned about it being confiscated because the wrist-rocket slingshot is not a toy and is considered to be a weapon. So in one smooth move I managed to bum out the Frisbee players (thus un-doing the happy impact that some fellow supporter had tried to create) and send an instrument of danger. Nice.

Not every plan I have works out exactly like I intend it to. Sometimes they work out better (the Phoenix Coyote episode and hopefully the Chaplain) Or I learn something valuable in the process, like when I’m in over my head (Killer Snowflakes).

But most of my mishaps also come with something pretty nice—a smile. Even if the laugh is at my expense, it still counts! My soldier got a kick out of my lack of wrist-rocket knowledge. Also, after the initial marshmallow assault, he shared it with the other guys so they all had fun. And that sounds very good indeed.

© Gina left the mall, 2014

19 thoughts on “It Sounded Good

  1. Gina I know your heart is in the right place and how could you possibly know it would be considered a weapon? The truth in all this is you were selfless and trying to lighten the load of those brave ones overseas, which you obviously did. I am proud to call you a friend and getting more interested in trying this myself.

    • Joe,
      Thank you for your kind words. I really thought this was just a toy that harkened back to simpler times. But the guys enjoyed it so it’s okay. I know that you already do a great deal of volunteer work with your church and free time is in short supply. So I’m happy that I’ve peaked your interest and I’m proud to be your friend as well.

      • We are days away from possibly embarking on a major missionary project with my church. It will be something that could change a lot of lives. I am keeping it quiet until I get all the players in place, but it will likely be the major focus for the coming year.

  2. But who knows? Maybe someday the wrist-rocket and ammo might be the only weapon somebody has, and it might SAVE his life! Think about it…. If an Afghan child ‘inherits’ it, and is able to hit rabbits or some other critter for food for his/her family, or defends him/herself against evil men trying to kidnap him/her for slavery… Even if the slingshot never leaves US military possession, it will go on being used by others – as a distraction from where they are and why they’re there (shooting candy at one another, or the locals), from marksmanship practice, etc. It’s a durable ‘toy’/weapon meant to last a long, long time. I’d love to have and be proficient in the use of one, myself! If you run out of the steel ball ammo, you can always find rocks, and who knows how handy THAT could be! David killed Goliath with a smooth stone and a sling[shot]!

    • Becky,
      You bring up great points that I did not even consider! We never know what ripple effect our words and actions will have. I like the thought of a child “inheriting” it and being able to help feed their family. I hope no one would ever need it as a last resort for protection but as you say, who knows? And I very much like the idea that it continued to be a distraction for many other troops.

      I have very slender wrists that were not made for rockets laden with marshmallows or anything else..lol. But I wish you luck if your pursue this. Perhaps it’s a good idea to always know how to handle the Goliaths in the world 🙂

  3. The marshmallows were an ingenious idea. Go Sofia! Heck, just about anything could be used as a weapon, especially in weather like we’re having here in the US. Just yesterday, I heard a guy up in MN talking about using a frozen banana to hammer nails.

    • Are you talking about radio host John Williams on WCCO radio? I heard he tried it but haven’t seen the results. It has been miserably cold here in Minnesota…wouldn’t wish this on anyone!

    • Sofia has a knack for good ideas! Luckily for the other soldiers, these marshmallows were soft. That’s pretty funny about the frozen banana. I bet the Polar Vortex has created many new tools/weapons.

      Paula, hope things are better today! I didn’t enjoy the weather in NYC, I can’t even imagine the temps you guys had.

  4. A wrist rocket slingshot? Is that something new? Thank heaven they didn’t exist when I was a kid or I would’ve never made it to school. I can remember the merciless cruelty with which we used to hurl snowballs at each other. I’m sure your soldier got a big kick out of it. I can just see him and his soldier mates using it to shoot those Frisbees in mid-air. That would be a fun game.

    • It sounded old. Like “radio flyer” and slingshots are pretty old too, but I’m not sure when they came about. However I am certainly happy that you were never on the receiving end!!! I think they pack more punch than a snowball! I like how you included the frisbees…lol.

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