It was a crisp autumn morning. A sea of flannel and Carhartt covered the field. It had been cleared of its crop recently, the corn harvested. In the early morning light, hunters gathered, the fall air of Colorado showing itself on the breath. Anticipation also hung in the air. This was the first time all season that the hunters would be able to raise their rifles to fire the polished steel at the migratory geese that pass over Colorado.
I stood at the edge of this group of men. They in their flannel, me in a Wal-Mart knockoff of an OP Ski jacket. It was too large for my slight frame, as the jacket was a hand-me-down, twice removed. I held my rifle in proper stance in the crook of my arm. At twelve years old this was my first trip out. To the field, with the men of flannel. The thought of pulling a trigger, and possibly killing a beautiful creature sickened me. So much so, I had not slept a wink the night before. Throughout Hunter Safety Class, the training class my Father said would “toughen me up” I asked, “why do we want to kill innocent animals?” The teacher shaking his head explaining a Copenhagen infused version of Makumba Matata.
The other boys in the crowed, all seemed excited. The opportunity of finally being able to use their steel sticks of death was all they spoke about. I slowly side-stepped away from the other kids. It was a church event, so a long history of not being “one of the good Mormon boys” was already established. It seemed like hours had gone by since my Brother and I were dumped off in the field, as our Father wandered off to speak to other Bishops from other Wards.
As I waited for geese to rain from the sky, I began to let my mind wander. It wandered to the very first time I saw a marching majorette in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. One day I was going to be the first male, professional majorette. That was going to be my profession. Majoretting. Having everyone focused on me. As I stood in the field, I decided to practice my skills. Using my rifle as my baton. I began to spin my rifle in my hand. Just as I got the feel of the spinning rifle in my hand, my concentration was broken with a loud, “Brother Bennett!! Brother Bennett! Your Son…..!!!” I looked up to see several people, backing up from me and calling for my Father. My father appeared from the crowd of flannel; running over and grabbing the gun from my hand in mid-swing.
We marched to the truck as my Father screamed. How could I do such a thing after my costly training in Hunter Safety class. How could I embarrass him in front of his church? I screamed back that killing beautiful birds was just wrong. As he slammed the truck door, and expelled me from ever joining church events, both my Father and I learned a lot about each other. I would never be the Son he wanted. He would never be the Dad I needed. But, I would grow up to be the first-best male majorette in the world. That would teach him.