AS THE BOY clad in a cowboy hat walks past, I watch, stunned. He is carrying a shotgun. And he is at the airport.
From just feet away, I can see that his gun is clearly a toy. Still, I am surprised that the boy, who appears to be about six, can tote his fake weapon openly among a throng of disembarked passengers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Sunday afternoon.
A quick glance from afar and someone, anyone, could mistake his replica gun for the real thing.
No one seems alarmed, though, except me.
My concern is only momentary, however, as I soon focus on my 16-year-old son, who has just arrived from Spain via London and Chicago.
We are at the American Airlines baggage claim waiting for his suitcase. That is what I think, until he says we are also waiting for his sword.
A sword? What is it with boys and their weapons?
He has purchased a souvenir sword that arrives tightly secured in cardboard packaging. I am relieved. I want nothing to do with a sword-swinging teen swaggering through an airport terminal.
My security confidence has already been shaken by that gun-toting would-be cowboy.
Later, when we arrive home, I find the sword useless as a cutting tool, although certainly capable of impaling someone, anyone.
I keep my lips pressed tightly together, holding back the question I want to ask: “Why on earth did you buy a sword?”
© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling