There’s something about December. It always gets away from me in this really bizarre time-warp, worm hole kind of way. I always think I can be totally Zen about it and everything will work out, and then all of the sudden, it’s December 23rd and I realize that I haven’t been Zen, I have just been procrastinating. But now I have emerged on the other side, and am feeling positive about this new year. Hopefully there will be less procrastinating. The other bright side is that now I have a month’s worth of stuff to write about.
First up– “How To Talk To Your Friends and Family About Your Love Affair With Guns Without Seeming Like a Creepy Weirdo”.
As I’m sure happened to all of you as well, I was saturated with holiday social situations this past month in a pretty intense way. I really like getting together with family and friends, especially if it includes the ingestion of delicious foods. Unfortunately, after about an hour my small-talk skills go down the toilet, my face starts to hurt from smiling and I find myself distracted by plotting an escape route. This nearly never has anything to do with the other people in the room. It’s just me. I think I am what the interwebz would call an Introvert. This isn’t usually a big deal. A lot of people are awkward, and big family get-togethers are usually at least a little stressful for everyone. This year however, unlike years past, I had to try to figure out how to explain to people who have known me for a very long time, how it is that I came to be an enthusiastic gun owner and a partner in a gun holster making business, seemingly out of nowhere. This is the kind of epic awkwardness that episodes of The Office are made of.
The problem for me is that I understand why they are so confused. I imagine myself in their shoes, and someone that I have known to be a Green party registered, art school alum who has never expressed anything other than disdain for firearms, is suddenly telling me about the Ruger Mark III she got for Christmas (more on that later) with an embarassing flush of enthusiasm on her face. This is difficult for people on a couple levels. First, it’s hard to know how to react when someone does a complete 180 on a point that previously didn’t even seem like it was up for debate. It’s easier to think you know how people will act based on the political/religious/lifestyle labels they subscribe to. I think my family would be almost as confused if I was suddenly really passionate about lizards. I have never expressed even a passing interest in lizards (although, if you think about it, they are pretty rad…), so if I suddenly announced that I wanted to go to grad school for Lizardology, I think great Aunt Peggy would probably give me the same blank nod and the, “Isn’t that nice, dear!” hand pat.
But the second point is where we really get into the meat and potatoes of the thing. Guns are an uncomfortable topic of conversation. It’s kind of like bringing up abortion on a first date. The record screeches to a halt. As someone who is not trying to proselytize the necessity gun ownership to the ignorant masses, I am reluctant to even bring it up. This is tremendously difficult since I now primarily make my living helping to fabricate holsters for guns, write this blog about being a gun enthusiast and am the proud owner of 4 pistols and 1 rifle. I am not ashamed of any of that. In fact, I am really excited about the new course my life has taken. I love writing this blog. All of those guns I own are beautiful pieces that provide me with hours of enjoyment. Shooting as a hobby is incredibly satisfying. The custom holsters that I work on for PHLster are well-designed, and well-received by the growing number of customers who order them. Gun ownership makes me feel empowered to take responsibility for my own safety, and that dovetails nicely with the sense of civic responsibility that I have for my community. In other words, it’s become a lifestyle. You can imagine how this might be difficult to convey in small-talk over the holiday punch bowl.
The kicker is that I was once that person who would have been confused, and frankly, squicked out by excitement over guns. It’s hard to express excitement over firearms to most people without sounding like creepy nutjob. And I totally get that. Being excited about guns seems more than gauche. It seems insensitive, unaware and possibly psychotic. However, I am not any of those things. I’m acutely aware of the responsibility and awareness needed to own and operate firearms. And I hope with everything that’s in me, as I’m sure you all do too, that I am never in a situation where I would be forced to point a gun at another person. I have a love of guns and a hatred for violence. These can be tricky things to reconcile, especially if your experience with guns is solely academic. Because, for me, the doing is much more important than the talking. You can’t really understand why someone would be excited about guns until you’ve shot one. Shooting is basic and primal and simple. How can I explain why I like to eat bacon if you’ve never tried it, and have been raised to believe that eating meat is unethical? Why would I bother trying to explain it to you? It’s unlikely that I will be able to convince you, and we’re probably going to get into an argument over some political bullshit that really isn’t very productive.
So this was my holiday impasse.
But then I had a breakthrough. I thought to myself, “Rebecca, you are totally over-thinking this, as per usual. Just do what you do and be happy with it”. People pick up on cagey weirdness, and that’s not a great vibe to be putting out when you’re talking about the small arsenal you have in your bedroom. So, my new strategy is to be positive and excited about my new endeavors, and not worry too much about other people’s reactions.
We’ll see how Easter plays out…
(Also, next time I will have pictures of the Ruger. I promise.)