Ian, Tessa and Lucy sit at Real Food Daily, a restaurant in Santa Monica on Sunday night. It has been two days since the shootings in Newtown, CT, and the two parents had agreed to talk about it before school started the next day.
Lucy has just finished her piano recital and is making slurping noises with her straw.
TESSA: So, sweetie, we wanted to talk to you about something that happened in the news-
IAN: -before you hear anything about it at school.
LUCY: Was it a really bad thing?
LUCY: Was it about someone who had guns and stuff and killed a lot of people?
Ian and Tessa glance at each other with a "what the fuck? how the hell-" look
IAN: Wait, you know about it already?
TESSA: How? Did somebody say something at the party yesterday?
LUCY (nonchalantly): Yeah. CeeCee said that someone started shooting everyone with a gun and there were kids and it was just awful.
Ian and Tessa glance at each other again, now with a "this is EXACTLY what we were trying to avoid" look
TESSA: What else did she say?
LUCY: That's it. What really happened?
TESSA: Well, a 20-year-old guy went into a school, and started shooting people.
LUCY: Were there kids?
TESSA (solemnly): Yes.
LUCY: What happened to the guy?
TESSA: He died.
LUCY: The police shot him?
IAN: He shot himself before they could.
Ian immediately regrets this slightly, as they have purposely not covered suicide in the List of Things People Do.
LUCY: Were the kids older or younger?
IAN: Than you?
TESSA: A little bit younger.
Both parents know this to be only barely true.
LUCY: If he had come into our school with those guns, someone would have tackled him down.
TESSA: That's right, sweetie.
LUCY: We would have seen that he was a stranger, and hidden away where he couldn't find anybody.
IAN: That would be a great plan.
LUCY: Why did he do it?
TESSA (pause): He was - not right. He was an upset guy. He wasn't normal and didn't see the world the right way.
IAN: But the important thing is this - we wanted to tell you what happened. Any information you get from someone in class-
TESSA: -or at recess...
IAN: ...or at recess-
TESSA: Because you might discuss it in class, with the teachers, and that's okay.
IAN: Right. But when these things happen, there's always a lot of rumors and we want you to come to us if there's anything you want to know.
Lucy looks out the window, makes more noise with her straw.
IAN: The three of us, we've lived through history, right? Some pieces of history have been great, like when we all went to Washington D.C. to see Barack Obama become President. Some things were hard to understand, like when they captured Osama bin Laden.
LUCY: Obama and Osama sound the same. Obama. Osama. It's only one letter different.
TESSA: That's true.
IAN: But this is a really bad bit of history. There's all kinds of history, and when we can tell you, we want you to know what's going on.
IAN: Here are two important things to know about what happened in Connecticut. Number one-
LUCY: Number one is guns are horrible and awful and terrible and they should all be destroyed forever.
IAN (pause): Okay, so make that three things. You thought of the first. But the second thing to know is that events like this are really, really rare.
TESSA: It's not something you need to worry about.
IAN: It's like "supernova in the sky" rare. (pause) The third thing is this... this event might actually make the country change for the better. We might get to make new laws.
TESSA: Barack Obama even got on TV and said that something like this should never happen again.
IAN: So now we can pass some laws that will make it so it never happens again.
Both Tessa and Ian know that "never" is impossible, but a tragedy this horrible needs some closure, some sense that this kind of madness is finite
TESSA: How are you feeling, sweetie?
LUCY: Good. But I have a question.
TESSA: What is it, my darling girl?
Lucy takes a long, long pause.
LUCY: Are we getting dessert?
Ian and Tessa glance at each other with a look they've employed hundreds of times over the last seven years: "well, that's about the best we can do here for now."
Posted by Ian Williams at December 18, 2012 11:43 PM