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Gun Noises

By LC Van Savage

Bang Bang You’re Dead. What Was That Again?

In 1995 I wrote a brilliant column about what I consider one of the most important differences between boys and girls and because I’m an astute observer of the human condition, I find that from my observances and eavesdroppings, even after all these years that nothing has changed. The difference still exists and it’s an important one.

But before I tell you what it is, I have to warn you that I’ll be using a word here that to some is repugnant. It’s just a tiny word and only has 3 letters to it and yet it can evoke the same explosive reactions that the words abortion, sex, free condoms, Rosy, the death penalty, legal marijuana, and gay can summon forth.

The word is “gun.” Now please, don’t get yourselves into a swivet. Guns have been with us forever and have their place and I hope I don’t ever have to pick one up again, even though I was raised with a house full of guns and was taught to use them properly and never once in all my years in that house, did it occur to me to touch them when no one was around. Like most of us I wish people wouldn’t use guns on people but they do and that’s the way it is and that is an incredibly bad thing and something I’d like to see ended, but know realistically I never will.

But back in olden times when kids played war, and cowboy and Indians games, (IOW my era and even the era of our young sons) they played with toy guns. If they didn’t have a toy gun, they made guns out of sticks, clothes pins, and of course their fingers. Was it right? Maybe not, but it was what it was. Kids playing shoot-'em-up games with each other back then was as normal as kids playing video games today and come on, it was a lot less violent than many of today’s video games are. Have you seen any of them lately?

But what was embarrassingly obvious back then was that girls, when they were reluctantly allowed into those games (usually when no one else was available and the boys were utterly desperate) could not make gun noises. Boys have that gift, you know. They can make great, loud guttural explosive sounds to come out of their throats when they’re slaying their enemies and it’s really quite a terrific noise; juicy, a big eruptive kablooey! and down go the bad guys. And the really talented bad guys would fall over most convincingly, frequently screaming while clutching their throats and ricocheting off trees and walls and stuff and taking a very long, drama-filled period of time to gasp their last.

When the girls, the smart, survivor, take-charge girls demanded that they too get a turn at shooting the bad guys, and were finally given permission or were able to convince their dissenters to give them a turn by a couple of well aimed kicks at the male shins, they would shoot, and out of their mouths would come a pitiful sound nowhere near as good as the boys’ gun sounds. It was more like the sound of a can of spray paint being sprayed that no longer had paint in it. It was high pitched, gaspy and weak, with a little dry squawkish action at the end. It was weird and everyone would laugh. Once. Those girls, OK I was one, knew how to end that laughter pretty quickly.

But the girls, oh my, when the girls got shot, they usually just stood there frowning until the boys would yell, “Fall DOWN, fall down! You gotta fall down, Dummy. You were just shot! Doncha get it? Jeez, girls are such jerks.” And the girls, the tough, survival, smart girls would look down at the dirt, look back up at the boys and say, “You’re kidding. I could get filthy doing that. You want me to fall down on that mess? Me? Why would anyone want to actually do that? You do it. You guys are a bunch of morons anyway, and I’m going home,” and they’d throw the guns, imaginary or not, onto that very ground and would stomp proudly off, clean, happy, alive and smart.

Except for those wimpy, dying-to-please-the-boys girls who’d actually sigh, roll their eyes, and say, “OK, I’ll try. Shoot me again.” The boys would happily take aim, and make that wonderful boy/gun noise, and those girls would clutch awkwardly at their chests, try for a couple of agonized death throes and lower themselves carefully to the ground to the derisive and disgusted hoots of their shootists.

Honestly I think girls just do not have the innate ability to play at war and fake that sort of thing and uh oh, I feel a strong accusation of sexism coming on. No, please believe me, I’m not sexist. Girls and boys can be pretty different from each other and there are many things still extant that boys can do better than girls, and girls can do better than boys and that’s what makes life for all of us incredibly interesting. And yet we can still always work at making those differences fade away if that’s what we want, although I think cookie cutter humans would be a great, huge bore. Personally I applaud the differences and hope they will remain with us for a very, very long time.

But no matter what anyone says, no matter the untrue accusations of sexism leveled at me, no one will ever convince me that girls can make decent gun noises. In this case, the boys win.

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Reader Comments

Name: John I. Blair Email:
Comment: LC, What a great reminiscence! As a boy, of course I side with the males in this controversy, but admit that, yes, boys did spend a great deal of time and creativity in developing the perfect gun sound. I was mediocre, at best, but still managed to "kill" a lot of other kids and died fairly well myself. Thanks for the memories!



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