My ever thoughtful son sent to me for Christmas a very retro-covered copy of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel (1953), Casino Royal.
My first reading of the Bond series was in 1965, when I was in Advanced Infantry Training at some sleepy Army Fort in North Carolina. Vietnam was bleeding. I was safe from the draft because I had wisely joined the National Guard. (Yes, as if you care, I freely admit that I was a draft dodger. I could probably never be President. Or could I . . . ?)
I worked in an office with two other enlisted men and a lethally bored Second Lieutenant. One of the other guys was an extremely perturbed Austrian citizen who had, by stupendous effort and patience, obtained residency in the USA and was thus – to his everlasting bewilderment – eligible for the draft. He was probably the least lucky person I’ve ever met.
Our single task was to determine the devastation to Army equipment and personnel in case the Ruskies lobbed one in on us that particular day. The calculations took about a half-hour. That left ample time for reading and snoozing. I also learned to touch-type – just about the only useful skill I acquired in the Army.
There I go – getting off-point again. Anyway, I was amused to re-read Casino Royal after 43 years. I had firmly in mind, from watching countless Bond movies, a certain persona that, while unquestionally capable of cold-blooded murder of bad guys, was nevertheless admirable from a certain twisted and depraved viewpoint. (i. e. blind patriotism)
Forget all that. Fleming’s Bond is about the most despicable character you can imagine. Only the bad guys are worse. There is nothing admirable about him. He is a misogynist of the first order. He experiences women as annoying nuisances fit only for his temporary amusement. Even as he seduces, he is icily planning the kiss-off. He is also, contrary to the movie portrayals, often inept and falls far short of the manly fortress of strength, integrity, and courage of the movie mockery.
I could go on and on, but one has only so much time at work to read this drivel.
I’ll bring the book back to Madang. If you want to borrow it, let me know. If you’re a Bond movie fan, you’re in for a surprise.
ABOUT THE PHOTO: The pistol is a Walther PPK – I won’t get into the details. Most people who care think of this as “The James Bond Gun.” Surprisingly (to me, at least), it makes no appearance in Casino Royal. My son tells me that it appeared in a later volume (five years later in Dr. No). When I get to Canada, my son and I are going to do a little research and collaborate on a few posts revealing “The Guns of James Bond.” It will be fun for us, if not for you.
I should mention that the PPK has a sentimental appeal to me aside from the Bond thing. For years, when I was doing business in an unsavory atmosphere (not saying where or why), I carried a PPK very similar to the one in the photo tucked into a ‘snuggie’ holster between my belt and my bum. Happily, I never shot anybody, including myself.
Thanks to the very nice, but otherwise scary folks at Don’s Guns in Indianapolis for allowing me to take the photo in a WARNING – NO CAMERAS area. You may speculate for a moment concerning the reason cameras might not be welcome in a place where the motto has been for years, “I don’t want to make any money. I just love to sell guns.”
TO THE OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES OF DON’S GUNS: I mean absolutely no disrespect by any comment in this post. I am a writer of humor and a professional fool. Practically everything is funny to me. If it weren’t, I’d probably blow my own brains out. You treated me with a bemused kindness that went far beyond your duty to the public to supply the necessary tools to allow them to exercise their rights under the Constitution of the United States of America. God bless the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.