Here’s what should’ve been shocking, but wasn’t.
My sons’ Little League game, in which their two teams were to face off for the first time, was canceled this past Sunday, because police were searching for a gunman at a mega-church complex across the street from their field.
That should be shocking.
But what really shocked me was my sons’ reaction.
Maybe it’s because they were 11. But they couldn’t have cared less about the gunman. They were just disappointed that their game was canceled.
Am I missing something here?
There wasn’t the slightest bit of alarm when we got to the field and the other cars were circling to leave, and a couple of different dads were telling us, all at the same time, that the game had been canceled because of a gunman at the church down the hill.
My kids don’t play violent video games.
At least, not to my knowledge.
They’ve never seen the inside of Grand Theft Auto or any of its accursed competitors.
They don’t even watch the NFL.
So how could it be that a gunman, in their sleepy little town of Irvine, often called the Switzerland of Orange County because it’s so safe, evinced no interest whatsoever?
One of my sons checked my iPhone and found that Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs: 2 was playing in Irvine in half an hour. So my sons, still in their opposing uniforms, went to the movies instead.
Over ice cream after the film, I asked them if they had any more thoughts about the gunman.
It turns out that there were indeed a pair of gunmen at the church. Two geniuses in their mid-20s, with twice the years and less than half the common sense of my sons, had stolen a car and held up at gunpoint an AT&T store, coming away with some iPads and iPhones (easily traced, no doubt) for their efforts.
For whatever reason, when they made their gallant getaway, they ended up on the campus of Mariners Church on the border of Irvine and Newport Beach, within shooting distance of Irvine Little League Field Las Lomas I, where they were brought to ground by the local gendarmes.
My sons’ game will be rescheduled, but the two miscreants will not be able to attend, since they will be most likely guests of the state for the next 10 to 15 years.
That’s because in Orange County, unlike much of the rest of California, it’s against the law to break the law.
It takes a lot to get two boys to Little League. There are all the constituent elements of their uniforms, their sunflower seeds and vitamin water on an almost 90-degree fall day. There’s athletic tape for the jammed fingers of one of my boys, who would’ve come to bat for the first time this season after a muscle tear in his pinky. There’s the last-minute round of snacks, because the boys, who hadn’t been hungry when they left the house, suddenly were hungry by the time we were close to the field.
So my letdown was almost as intense as theirs when it turned out that the game would not be played.
But for me the real takeaway is the fact that my sons are growing up in a world where gunmen, in places where gunmen don’t belong, are just an ordinary fact of life. No more surprising than if the field had been too muddy to play on or had been double-booked and two other teams of Little Leaguers had already started their game.
Rescheduling the contest between my sons’ teams is easy.
Turning back the clock to an era when 11-year-olds weren’t fatalistic about gunmen on church grounds…not gonna happen.
And that’s the biggest loss of all.