November 20, 2002
Dear Chris Crutcher,
Of all the books I've read by you, which is all but one (your adult book, I'm still a teen), "Guns for Geeks," from On The Fringe, was extremely poignant, a lesson that should be taught to everyone at a young age. Guns are dangerous instruments, sort of like an out-of-tune violin in the hands of someone who's tone deaf, but the point is that we're putting these dangerous instruments into the hands of crazy, trigger-happy people. We, as in the great U S of A, give guns to people who have no right out of their houses in the morning! Do wonders ever cease?
I believe that the attitude about guns and conformity is coming from adults still trying to be teenagers as in when you sarcastically mentioned that Rob's father held militia meetings in his kitchen. You implied that maybe Rob's father still wanted to be on good terms with the youth, which by the way, is an exclusive club for those between thirteen and nineteen. Towards the end of the story though I realized Rob's father wasn't some malicious wrongdoer. He was just an ordinary guy, just a little more compliant than the rest.
When Taylor shot those students, it was almost like I was sitting there in that classroom, sweating and whimpering, just waiting and praying for the pandemonium to end. What Taylor did was not something that goes unsaid or undone. Columbine wasn't the first. I don't know the first school victim to severe violence among the students, but you can't act surprised, with all the violence from their peers they're going to retaliate and it won't be pretty, I'm sure. I just think that even if "people do kill people," maybe we shouldn't let these people have guns, or even breed. It's just flat out dangerous.
The way your story really touched me, though, was how you helped me feel the pain of Taylor. That was the moment I realized I had to stop the madness. My aim in life went from getting a motorcycle (which is still a priority), to disinfect those infected with the dreaded "populitis," an extremely contagious social disease that travels from clique to clique, person to person, causing serious developmental problems, not affecting the lower social class. I just have to say, I'm not perfect, so I can't stop all the taunts, end the mass hysteria of conformity, or even sometimes stop myself from conforming, but I really try. Your story made me realize that it's not the outside, it's not even the inside, it just is. And we've got to take care of that. You can't let that be ruined. I don't know if it's the psyche, the heart, or even the chemicals in your brain, but it's touchable and moldable, and you just can't keep taking advantage of it. And that is how your story changed my life forever. Thanks.
Please write back. The Gruening address is on the heading. Thanks again.
Gruening Middle School, Eagle River
Teacher: Mrs. Terri Semmler