Thursday, December 29, 2005
I went to McDonald's today, armed with an assault rifle and intending to kill 30 or 40 people. You didn't see me, because I look just like you.Why didn't I do it? Why didn't I explode through that room in a frenzy of McDeath, pop-pop-popping moms and dads and hot cherry pies?Not because the man at the gun store sold me a clip that would hold only nine bullets. Reloading after nine people is as easy as after 30. For a person in my state of mind, who's really counting anyhow?And not because I caught a sudden glimpse of humanity, seeing all the mommies having lunch with their little darlings. Huh-uh. Not a chance.I'll tell you why I turned around and went home, the rifle still wrapped in plastic bags in my trunk. I really will. In just a bit.First, let me take a minute to explain myself. Let me tell who I am, and what it took to turn from an Ordinary Person into a monster willing -- wanting even -- to kill other Ordinary Person. Lots of 'em.All the berserk killers who went wild one day, the postal workers, the unemployed laborers, the Viet Nam vets, the courtroom murderers, the restaurant homicidal maniacs -- were just Ordinary People one day. Then they -- like me -- turned into Something Else.There was a time, you know, when we really were ordinary. We picked up the newspaper, saw a horrible story about a mass shooting and shook our heads. But that was before. Since then, look at all that has happened:We've been put down, shouted down, jilted, deprived, ratted on, denied and set aside. The money's gone. The dog's gone. There is no happiness left.We just want to do away with ourselves.So we stare at the bottom of an empty mug, and ponder life, and fate, and our own humanity. And we find that we have achieved nothing of note, no immortality, no deeds worthy even of the granite slab that will cover our last remains.Whimpering, snivelling, we determine to go out with a bang.For 15 minutes, we will be Very Important.In the time it takes to empty two or three clips, we will have impacted more people than we ever did in our entire miserable lives. Grown men will fear us, women will faint, neighbors will give interviews to TV cameras. We are cleansed of our weakness.And for a little time, police radios and sirens and red lights will look just like on TV.So I went to McDonald's today, armed with an assault rifle, wanting to kill people. I saw you there. Yes you, who now sit there smugly in front of your computer and don't care about me.I opened the trunk, pulled back the plastic, and looked at the cold black steel and hollow-pointed death. From the pit of my stomach I wanted to kill everyone I could, all those grandma types with the blue hair and the wretched kids who whined because they didn't get the right toy in their Happy Meal.I looked around, and no one cared. This had all been so easy.If they cared, I probably could not have purchased this gun, these bullets.We had grown accustomed to mass shootings, I saw. It was accepted, acceptable, a small price to pay for a freedom.I knew already what would happen if I went through with it. Somewhere in California a third-page story would cite a statistic, and in Texas a commentator would be angry, and in Florida it wouldn't even make the news. And so even pop-pop-popping at McDonald's didn't matter anymore.I guess, for the time being, I did something people did care about. I went home. I cared -- momentarily.But, even while you read this, sipping your drink and peering casually at this screen, somebody else is out there buying a gun -- and planning on taking you with them when they go.