No guns are allowed at the book sale, if by “the book sale” you mean “my life”

At Easter, as I was explaining to my five-year-old cousin why we don’t throw tantrums even when other people find more Easter eggs, and my two-year-old cousin was loudly proclaiming his enjoyment of the swing, my father came over and said, “I’m going to go shooting out back,” which meant actually he was going to go out back, shoot maybe twice, and the rest of the time just set targets and chat to my uncles.  My father is a peaceful type.

“Oh good!” I said quickly before I could talk myself out of it (I am afraid of guns).  “I’m coming!  Can I come?”

“Okay,” said my uncle, who promised to teach me to shoot a while ago and I never followed up on it because I am afraid of guns.  “I normally have a separate shooting class for the women, now.  If you come, you have to deal with the language.”

I spent a year at a British university and am not fazed by bad language, so I agreed to this, though as it happened I think I was the only one cussing at all.  Once we got out there, my uncle provided me with several different guns.  They made me nervous.  He kept getting me smaller and smaller guns, and I kept forgetting to count to see when I would be out of bullets.  I tried three revolvers and one double-action semiautomatic pistol (please do not ask me what that means because I have forgotten).

My uncle: Cock it like I showed you – move your finger, move your finger!  Okay.  And then fire.
Me: DAMMIT.  I missed.
Dad: Please don’t stomp around like that with the gun in your hands.
My uncle: Try again.  Why are your hands shaking?  Hold your arms straight out when you fire.
My uncle: Aim a little higher.  You want to line up the sights like I showed you, and then fire.
Me: HA!  Dad, Dad, look, I hit one!
My uncle: There you go!  Now aim for the brown one.  Hold it like – don’t put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to fire – good – and then fire.

(My hands were shaking because I am afraid of guns.)

I was not very good at shooting.  However, my sister’s boyfriend Captain Hammer said, “It’s really hard to something blah blah blah more gun terminology at range blah blah handguns,” so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about myself.  I didn’t try to use (and nobody suggested I should) any of the shotguns or assault rifles.  Capt. Hammer, who was meeting this branch of the family for the first time, agreed to have a go at shooting clay pigeons.  He shot the target into two pieces, and then shot one of the broken pieces, and then handed back the enormous gun with an expression of extreme nonchalance.  If I had not feared that my sister would stab me in the eyes later for teasing Capt. Hammer with Disney jokes in front of our extremely tough, assault-rifle-having uncles and cousins, I’d have put on Lefou voice and said, “You never miss a shot, Captain Hammer!  You’re the greatest hunter in the whole world!”

(While my father was having a (less successful) go with the clay pigeons, Capt. Hammer said quietly to me, “That is by far the best shooting I have ever done in my whole life.  Play it cool.”)

My idea in all this was that learning to shoot would demystify guns for me, and then I would be less scared of them.  DID NOT WORK, and I got a sunburn, and I forgot to shield my eyes so I got gunpowder in my contacts.  (If anyone ever offers you the choice, by the way, of having gunpowder in your eyes or crawfish juice, I strongly recommend that you go with the gunpowder.)  Luckily my father got bored of the male bonding shortly after I did, and we went back.

Me: I’m a real man now.
Dad: Yes, you are.
Me: Except, I am a girl.
Dad: Except for that.
Me: Apart from that I’m totally one of the guys.
Me: What’s Butler’s mascot again?
Dad: Bulldogs.
Me: How ’bout them Bulldogs?
Capt. Hammer: Smooth.

When we got back, my sister told me about all the adorable things the toddlers had done while I was gone.  I know I just finished complaining about Quiverfull and its atavistically traditional gender roles; however, I confess that I far prefer sitting with my girl cousins and aunts talking about babies and shoes to skeet-shooting with the fellas.

(And I am still afraid of guns.)

27 thoughts on “No guns are allowed at the book sale, if by “the book sale” you mean “my life”

  1. LOL! I’m really scared of guns too – I think you did a far better job than I’d have done with them.

    I love the fact that you say you’re used to swearing because you went to uni in the UK 🙂 I thought the people who went to uni were the least likely to swear in this country – we must swear a lot more than you over here.

  2. Y’all swear SO MUCH MORE than we do. At least it seems that way to me. Part of it, of course, is that y’all have way more cuss words to choose from. This is, by the way, not at all a criticism. I am very impressed by the British ability to swear. But when I got back from England my mother was not pleased with my language. (Actually, she still isn’t.)

  3. lol! I’m not afraid of guns, and I’ve been shooting w/ my dad and grandfather.

    Rifles are MUCH easier to shoot for the first time than handguns! I’ve only been a couple times, but I found it easy to line up a rifle. 🙂

    That being said, I have no interest in actually owning a gun.

    • I have no interest in owning one at all, definitely. I have seen all those statistics about more likely to commit suicide, more likely to be a victim of homicide – no thanks.

      Yeah, see, with the rifles, I was just scared I’d drop them accidentally and they’d go off and shoot someone in the foot. I could picture it happening perfectly. I shot maybe six rounds with the revolvers, total, and one round with the semiautomatic, and then I started imagining all the accidents that I could cause, so I stopped. 😛

  4. maybe if you kept shooting it would help. Exposure therapy. Like me, the first time I climbed that enormous structure in the co-op warehouse I sat up there shaking for five minutes before I could summon the courage to climb down (I can admit this now that I no longer work there and don’t need to persuade them to let me climb it to get things i need for the stock room), but after I’d done it a lot, I could climb down easily without very much fear.

    I wish I could have seen! I wanna go!

    …also, captain hammer?

    • Yeah. I could do that. Except that I dislike guns on principle as well as in person, so I’m not sure it’s worth my time and effort and stress.

      You wish you could see what, the guns? You want to go shooting? Or the babies? Sully was very cute. He stomps around shouting everything, and he calls baby Rayne Brudder.

      I call him Captain Hammer because that’s what I called him when he and Robyn were circling around starting to date. Because that was the first thing she ever told me about him: he had a Captain Hammer shirt.

      • Both. less the guns, more the uncles and cousins WiTH the guns, and also, Dad with them with the guns. And BABY COUSINS. So want to see! Not nearly enough pictures of them on facebook.

        I remember Ra telling us about his shirt, it just surprised me that that was still your name for him.

      • Also, if you don’t think it’s worth the time and effort and stress, why try to stop being afraid at all?

      • Well, I didn’t know how much stress it was going to be until I tried it. Whereas now I know for sure that going out back and shooting with all the uncles and cousins is too stressful for me. If an opportunity arises to do a class, and it’s not too expensive and I have time, I might try that.

      • well, yknow, Elana is a big gun enthusiast. And you’re gonna be here this summer: she may know of a good class. And I know she knows of a gun range wherein you can shoot at pictures of zombies.

  5. I’ve never even seen a gun in real life. I love your walking-back-to-the-house dialogue. And Captain Hammer is a totally evocative name! (Anna, you need to watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog)

    • I’ve never held one in real life before Easter. They, um, they are scary. You know if you screw up, YOU CAN KILL SOMEONE? Do not like.

      Anna’s seen it. She just doesn’t know why I called him Captain Hammer. It is because I don’t know if he (or my sister) would like me using his real name. He is very nice. Not really like Captain Hammer at all. Oh dear, now I feel I’ve maligned him, hahaha.

  6. Yay glad this post is back. It popped up in my reader a couple days ago but wasn’t here when I came back to comment, then never showed up again. I’m glad I came to look manually!

    Damn. And now I can’t remember what I was originally going to comment. Well anyway I giggled all through this post. The Captain Hammer part really cracked me up (seen Dr. Horrible?).

    • Oh, yeah, I accidentally posted it, when I meant to just schedule it. So I went back and took it away again. Sorry!

      Hahaha, I’m beginning to think I should have given poor Captain Hammer a different pseudonym. He only has the shirt! He is not like him! 😛

  7. Good show!

    My Granny had a similar experience to Captain Hammer’s when she was hanging out with some young men as a young woman in backwoods Idaho. They didn’t believe she could shoot. One of them threw his hat up in the air, and she put a bullet through it. They begged her to do it again but she refused. She knew she could never, ever do it twice, because she wasn’t actually that good of a shot. So they remained in awe.

    • Well-played your Granny. I would not have been able to do that once. Probably not even if I had years of gun lessons. I’d get all nervous.

  8. This post is completely hilarious! I only tried shooting once, and I confess I loved it. But then I was brought up excessively ladylike, and not allowed to run around or dirty my clothes or climb trees, so my general feeling is that boys get all the fun and now, too late in life, I am trying and failing to catch up!

    • I just can’t shake the mental images of me firing accidentally and hitting one of my family members and killing them or crippling them for life. It would be so irrevocable. Maybe if we’d been firing blanks I’d have enjoyed it more?

  9. I took a Hunter Safety course for Women and it was a blast. It was all class and book work for 8 weeks and then we were offered a shooting coach at a range; we had the best time. My dad gave me a shotgun so I thought it a good idea to know how to use it. I enjoy clay pigeons much more than actual bird shooting, tho. The silly birds fly right at you! instead of the nice expected trajectory.

    • Yeah, see, I think a class would be better for me. If I had a proper class, I think I’d feel better about my ability to control a gun and not have it go off accidentally.

  10. I’m extremely relieved that your prospective brother-in-law isn’t actually anything like Captain Hammer. But a little bit disappointed, too, because I was enjoying my mental image of him swaggering around at target practice!

  11. I can so relate to this. I’ve often wonered if I could overcome my fear of guns by taking a gun class . . . except I’m too nervous to sign up because I’m afraid of accidentally getting shot or shooting someone during the class!

    Nice segue to the Bulldogs, too. 🙂

    • That’s the thing! If I screw up in a knitting class, I’ll have a crooked sweater or something; if I screw up in gun class I could kill someone forever! Aaaaa!

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