I love a good butt-shooting as much as anyone. I don’t mean me. I’d rather not be shot in the buttocks. But if someone else gets shot in the butt, I tend to laugh about it. It’s what my dad calls “Snipes humor” because he believes a small dark streak runs through my mom’s side of the family that he does not support and cannot condone. The Carter side is light and warm and friendly to strangers, small animals and loved ones alike. The Snipes side has a profound sense of intellectual curiosity baked into it that expresses itself in a deep love for books and insects, but it also has an odd sensibility just under the surface. There’s a quiet tendency to find hurtful things hilarious. I tend to agree with his assessment, though I love and enjoy both sides of my family.
Back to the butt-shooting. When Forrest Gump got shot in the butt and had to lie down on his stomach to lick ice cream, I loved it. But not every butt-shooting is so funny and heart-warming. Some are damned inconvenient and send the wrong message about New York. I speak of a recent butt-shooting that occurred during a summer visit to the Big City from my mother and sister from North Carolina. It was my sister’s first visit to see me in Manhattan since I moved here a year ago. Hello Big Apple. Is that a revolver in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?
A deranged man was weaving in out and of traffic near Times Square trying to get a car to hit him, according to news reports. Police were concerned. Usually it’s cabs trying to hit tourists crossing against the light. People trying to get hit by cars is unusual even in the climate of craziness that surrounds Times Square.
All manner of creatures populate this throng-infested iconic crossroads. The Naked Cowboy, for instance. He has franchised himself to allow eight different cowboys and cowgirls to work the streets under a licensing agreement in which he is paid a healthy stipend either monthly or annually. He sent a cease and desist letter a couple years back to a 50-year-old stripper dressed in a red-white-and blue cowboy hat and matching bikini calling herself The Naked Cowgirl, saying the unlicensed cowgirl was ripping off his trademark. Just across the street is Elmo. Elmo has a bad rap lately. Besides the beloved Elmo puppeteer leaving Sesame Street under a cloud last year because of accusations and a civil law suit filed against him involving sex with underage boys, there’s the notorious Elmo in Times Square. That Elmo was recently arrested for trying to blackmail the Girl Scouts of America for $2 million and often shouted anti-Semitic remarks for no good reason. In other news, a Times Square Super Mario was arrested last winter for allegedly groping a woman. That’s not super, Mario. Not even a little.
Just past the parade of costumed characters looking for a picture and quick cash there are homeless people with colorful signs that let you know exactly where the donation will be going. One read “I’ll be honest. I Need Money For Booze, Drugs and Whores.” This guy looked angry and weird. But I appreciated his frankness. Another more mellow petitioner for handouts had a sign with a leafy green plant on it saying simply. “Need Money For Weed.” I was moved. I gave him no money, but if I had been able to stop for a moment on the busy sidewalk I would have taken his picture for posterity.
Back to the butt-shooting. New York City police officers and the homeless man were engaged in a kind of dance. The officers preferred not to be run over or to have someone else run over right in front of them. The disturbed man was causing havok with cars actually trying not to hit him as he thrust himself in front of them. At some point, he pulled something from his pocket and pointed it at the police officers. (In an early news account ,his thumb and forefinger made the sign of a gun. In later coverage I read, he attempted to fire on officers with a metro card. Luckily the card was unloaded.) In any event, the sudden gesture prompted several officers to return fire, as it were. The result was not a tragic death by a deranged homeless man. (Don’t worry, he’s going to be fine. You were worried. I could tell. But he is OK.) No. What happened is that two New York women who were just trying to find a Starbucks to use the bathroom or about to line up for to see Spider-Man After Dark at the TKS Ticket Booth or have some other really interesting Times Square experience were shot. (I can tell you’re concerned. Don’t worry. They don’t die. This is not that kind of story. You really worry too much.) Anyway, one was shot in the leg. And another woman had a bullet graze her butt cheeks.
This was tragic enough. It sends the wrong message. “Come See New York. Get Shot in the Butt.” This is not going to be the centerpiece of a new ad campaign for the tourism board for New York City. The fact that the butt-shooting happened on the same day my mother and sister were in New York and in Times Square strolling through the Hershey’s store, buying chocolates and ceramic souvenir mugs. That was tragedy multiplied a thousand times over. If my mother had been shot in the butt during a visit to New York City, I can only imagine the hay the Salisbury Post would have made of that. Not tucked inside as a small brief. Likely splashed across the front page in largish type usually reserved for the outbreak of war. People who know my mom would be interviewed. “We told her not to go, but she insisted on visiting her son in New York City. He was a good boy. But now look where he’s living. Surely he’ll see the light and come home now.”
No doubt there would have been sympathy visits from the Sunday school class from First United Methodist Church to my mom and dad. Someone would bring a pie over. I’m pretty sure. Maybe it would be apple. It could be pecan. It’s hard to say. And you may be sure that I would never hear the end of her butt-shooting from my mom who tends not to let go of smaller incidents when they particularly disturb her sensibilities.
The only thing worse than innocent people getting shot in the butt in Times Square by police officers would have been for Elmo to be shot in Times Square. My son used to be a huge Elmo fan and would sit bored and restless through most of Sesame Street only to become animated with glee when Elmo appeared and had a lively conversation with his fish Emily in her bowl. Although in the case of at least one particular Times Square Elmo, he probably would have deserved it.
- Anti-Semitic Elmo – Will Prison Change Him? (webpronews.com)
- Times Square ‘Elmo’ jailed in Girl Scouts extortion plot (cnews.canoe.ca)