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Headscratchers / A Christmas Story

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  • Why didn't the powers-that-be use hot water to get Flick's tongue off the flagpole?
    • Maybe they didn't know about that.
      • Maybe they *did* But he was out there for so long his tongue still suffered enough damage from his struggling/exposure that he needed medical attention anyway. We never see how they eventually get it off do we?
      • Actually, we do. "Holy cow! It's the fire department!" The firemen employ the tried-n-true "pull until it comes off" method that they teach in fireman school. Poor Flick.
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    • This may be due to Unreliable Narrator. Ralphie was only about 10 at the time, after all.
    • Did the fire department seriously think they needed four men and a truck to pull Flick off of that pole?
    • Rule of Drama. Also, having lived in several small towns where the rescue teams have little to do, this tropette can assure you, that kind of thing is what they live for.
    • As the above says, Unreliable Narrator.
    • Lukewarm water would do it and not burn the kid, and that's probably what ended up happening.
  • What was with that weird kid that claimed he/she loved Santa but started screaming his/her head off once they were put on his lap?
    • Rule of Funny and Hypocritical Humor. Plus, the guy was pretty intimidating.
    • For some reason, Santas from the late Fifties and early Sixties were just terrifying. My mother has a picture from December 1960 (when she would have been about seventeen months old) in which she's sitting on Santa's lap. "Santa" looks like the Child-Catcher and my mother looks like the only reason she isn't screaming bloody murder is because someone behind the camera is telling her to be quiet.
      • Worked in a 'take your picture with Santa' affair at the local Mall in 2008. Kids *still* scream bloody murder once they get to The Big Man even after waiting with expectation for a long period of time!
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    • Truth in Television, even today. Plenty of kids are thrilled at the prospect of visiting the guy who is going to give them free toys. It isn't until they get up close that they realize he's a big guy with a scary beard who is never as jolly looking as in the Coca-Cola ads. I've seen kids at the mall completely transfixed until they actually get on the guys lap, wherepon they lose it.
      • Yep. Kids are Fickle in general. They might ask for something to eat, only to refuse to eat it once it's set in front of him/her. Or they may want to watch a movie, only to be frightened of it a few minutes in. They're just like that.
      • As someone who works at a theme park, I can tell you for a fact that children can and will wait in line for an hour to see their favorite characters, and then cry and scream in absolute terror they're brought up to have a picture taken with them. Kids are just fickle like that, I suppose.
      • Fickle, nothing. Look at it from a kid's perspective: You think you're going to sit on Santa Claus's lap, and then when you get there, you realize that you're on the lap of a complete stranger who (most likely) has absolutely none of Santa's genial charisma or avuncular presence (and is probably stressed, exhausted and none-too-fond of children at the moment). Screaming is a natural reaction.
      • For the same reason teenage girls scream and cry whenever they get within four feet of their favorite pop star.
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    • Plus, there was a couple things about that kid that implied they weren't right in the head anyway.
  • When Ralphie is beating up Scut Farkus, Grover Dill yells "I'm gonna tell my dad!" and runs offscreen. I mean, you bully him for ages, and when he does something back, you tattletale? The bully got what was coming to him, but as far as the movie shows, Grover never does.
    • Yeah, my brother pointed that out. I'm pretty sure his dad isn't going to understand that the kid who he's constantly picking on is getting revenge on his tormentor.
    • Children are assholes, but bullies are even bigger assholes. Of course Grover is a cowardly little weasel who runs crying fowl at the first sign that his actions might have repercussions; he's a bully. In any case, given that no other adults stepped in to intervene and Ralphie never suffers any punishment, it would seem that Grover's tattling didn't do much good.
  • On a related note, why were Ralphie and Randy so worried about how their father would react? The Old Man seems like someone who would throw a parade for his son for beating up a bully.
  • This story takes place circa the 1940s, but the hair on Ralphie's mother is CLEARLY a product of the 1980s. Does this bug anyone else?
    • Curly hair did exist in the 1940s. Why would it bug you?
    • Yes, it always bugged me. Also bugged me that they used circa 1980s Disney costumed characters. Ever see what Mickey looked like when Disneyland opened in 1955? And this took place approximately 15 years before that!
    • When the kids are turning in their themes, Miss Shields clearly says "Thank you, Heather." A very feasible name for a 9-year-old girl in 1983. World War II, not so much.
    • The Disney thing, I got nothing for, but the mother's hair could either be pin curls or... you know, her actual hair type. Also, my grandmother's name was Heather. She would have been born in at least the 50s if not 40s.
      • Agreed with the above. While not terribly common, the name Heather was around in the 1930s. Perhaps her parents were Scottish.
    • Keep in mind we're being told a tale by a grown up who's remembering things from his childhood. Over the passage of time, some details get fuzzy. And some details are supplied by the imagination of the listener.
    • As the first respondent already stated, curly hair did exist in the 1940s (and prior — imagine that). And just because a given hairstyle (or name) wasn't common in a given time period, doesn't mean it didn't exist at all.
  • I can't be the only one who's taken a ricochet from a lever-action Daisy Red Ryder air rifle as a kid and not even really had a bruise to show for it, let alone broken glasses and the need for a good cover story.
    • If I remember right, the BB hit him and just knocked his glasses off. Ralphie stepped on his glasses and broke them when he was stumbling around blind.
    • They just got blown off his face and then he stepped on them to crush them. He was standing stupidly close to a metal sheet he was shooting at, not even ten feet away. From that range, a direct ricochet back could probably do some damage... such as the nick on his face where it actually hit.
  • Speaking of the ricochet, how the fuck did that happen? He shoots straight ahead at the target and somehow the BB does a perfect 180 and comes right back at him.
    • It appeared that the backing he put his target on was made of metal. Metal doesn't absorb impact like wood does. A projectile can go through metal if it has enough velocity and shape, but a round BB is not going to penetrate a metal sheet. It's going to bounce off. It would have been a dangerous thing to do with even a low caliber firearm, especially as he was standing so close to it.
      • It ricocheting makes sense, but the BB wouldn't ricochet in the exact direction it came from. It would glance off to the side.
    • To be fair, it's never really stated that it was a ricochet. I've watched it dozens of times and I've always been under the impression that Ralphie, as a 9-year-old who's never handled any kind of firearm before was just knocked over by the kickback and only thought he got hit. Even if a BB gun doesn't have the kind of kickback, it might conceivably knock over an unprepared, first time, 9-year-old who was too into the moment to really notice what they were doing.
      • Most BB guns, especially low powered spring-air types like the Red Ryder model, have no perceptible recoil at all. They couldn't knock over a two-year-old.
    • Well, even then, the shock of actually shooting the thing would probably spook him, and maybe the BB pellet did graze him a bit?
    • Maybe it was the noise that startled Ralphie and caused him to stumble. BB guns can actually be louder than most think they are, especially if they're pumped up really far.
    • Regarding the BB ricocheting straight back at Ralphie, it might be more plausible than one would think - do a search for "bullet ricochet" on YouTube and a slew of videos comes up showing direct ricochets. Including one involving a 50 caliber bullet.
    • Surprisingly, a direct-back-into-your-face ricochet is a very common type of BB gun injury. Mom knew what she was talking about.
  • Why is it somehow more acceptable that Ralphie got into a fight than he was spewing obscenities during it? Everyone in the movie seems to consider the swearing to be the really bad part of Ralphie's breakdown, and not the brutal - albeit not-entirely-undeserved - thrashing of the neighborhood bully. That's the one part Ralphie's more concerned that his father finds out about, and that's the one part his mother doesn't mention, and everything seems to be okay afterwards. Bwa?
    • Swearing seems to be a big deal in their house, with the added absurdity of the mother not realizing where Ralphie would have heard the F-bomb prior to the tire changing incident. However, if you notice, mom comes to some form of revelation when she calls Mrs. Schwartz ("Well, probably from his father.") and hears the resultant freak out. Then she tries the soap herself, indicating she is more and more putting herself in the boys' shoes. When the fight happens, the brothers' great fear of their father finding out (it seems he is the one with the strict anti-cussing policy for the kids, ironically enough), mom finally gets it and provides the old man with enough info to keep him in the loop but not to trigger his hypocritical reaction to swearing. These two incidents lead to a revelation about her husband's behavior that she perhaps never questioned before. As older Ralphie says in the narration at that point, "From then on, things were different between me and my mother."
    • I think you may have stumbled onto the 1950's version of morality.
      • May have had something to do with the fact the other kid was a bullying asshole who started it. Self defense was a thing even in the 40's
  • Where did Ralphie get the fruit basket?
    • He could've bought it with his allowance or one of his parents got it for him.
    • Maybe Ralphie has a talented hand at fruit arranging.
    • Or maybe we're seeing the basket as he remembers it, when it reality it was much simpler.
  • Why does Ralphie think he'll get in trouble over Flick getting his tongue stuck? Schwartz was the one who tripple-dog-dared him. Ralphie had nothing to do with it except for being there when it happened.
    • He was there and didn't stop it. He's a kid. Their minds work weird.
      • In addition to that, many school officials might just punish the whole group to make a point. Since Ralphie was a part of that group, he might've been guilty by association.
  • In A Christmas Story 2, why on earth would Flick stick his tongue in that pipe, considering how traumatic his first experience was? Or did he develop such sort of fetish?
  • Early in the movie, Ralphie goes into his parents' bedroom to hide ads for the BB gun in his mother's magazines. You can see here that the room contains two twin beds. Why?! I know early TV series were forced by censors to show couples sleeping in twin beds, but this movie was made in the 1980's and seems to be suggesting that people from that era actually lived that way! It's even sillier when you consider that we don't even see the parents in that scene.
    • It's uncommon, but some couples do sleep in separate beds. Different sleeping styles, temperature, snoring, etc... can all affect it. According to this article, it's anywhere between 25 and 40 percent of couples.
    • It's also important to remember the Unreliable Narrator aspect. Ralphie's memories of those days may be colored by the very samesaid TV shows you mention.
  • In the scenes immediately following the "Oh Fudge" incident, we first see the father whisper the offending word to the mother, then we see the mother do the same over the phone to Mrs. Schwartz. Why is this necessary? Surely, there are plenty of ways to convey what Ralphie said without repeating the word itself.
    • It makes sense when they're in the car, because Randy is also there and the father probably doesn't want his youngest son to hear that word.
  • At the end of the film the Bumpus's hounds crash the house to eat the turkey from the front door but how? The front door was closed.
    • Remember, Ralphie was up in the bathroom with his mom when the dogs came through. All he knew was they got to the turkey in the kitchen.
  • Why did Ralphie have to decode in the bathroom and not, say, his bedroom?
    • Doesn't he share with his brother? He wanted absolute privacy.
  • I know the reason is probably it was the 50s, but if his mother was so worried about Ralphie shooting his eye out, why not buy him some safety goggles?
    • Because he likely wouldn't wear them?
  • How on earth did Flick's tongue get stuck to a wooden pole? This troper's uncle is a school principal and after they showed that movie, warned kids not to do that and sure enough, several kids did it but when they licked a wooden pole they didn't get stuck.
  • Why was Ralphie so afraid to admit that he heard the F-bomb from his father? Maybe if he had his punishment would have been less severe, and the claim should be believable since his father swore basically all the time and his mother presumably would have been aware of that. Even Schwartz's mother correctly guessed where Ralphie heard it, so she must have heard his father swear before. Also, if Ralphie told the truth, Schwartz wouldn't have received the punishment he didn't deserve.
    • Ralphie probably didn't want to destroy his parents' marriage.
  • In the scene where the boys first encounter Scut Farkus, they are walking down an alley towards a dead end (from where Grover Dill emerges). Scut Farkus appears from behind them, as Ralphie notes, standing between them and the alley, blocking their escape. Why were the boys walking into a dead end in the first place? Where were they going?

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