It’s 7:30 on a Monday night, 18 degrees outside and clear—a half-moon lights the dirt path outside while not overpowering the three-million-twelve stars in the sky. (Full Disclosure: I was unable to count ALL the stars, relying instead on dividing the sky into thirds and counting one-million-four stars in that sector. I understand my assumption of equal distribution of stars may be naïve. Please feel free to check my numbers. But I digress.) Sam (is a dog) and I just got back from a most invigorating walk, filled with lots of thinking deep thoughts, at least by Sam. I mainly thought about corned-beef versus pastrami sandwiches and who would win in a fight—Mr. Clean vs. three Captain Kangaroos.
I also think about guns, a subject I don’t often ponder. I grew up with guns, or at least I grew up with a father who had rifles and shotguns. He’d take me hunting with him, and I always enjoyed walking through the woods at dawn, but felt as though it would be as much fun to be carrying broomsticks as rifles. My childhood included other guns as well—a pistol I found lying around and fired in the woods, terrifying myself and, I was sure, alerting police for miles around, and an air-powered pellet gun I used on commando raids to shoot out streetlights. In the Army, I qualified with an M-16, but as an adult I’ve not thought about guns in general much. I mean, I like the Second Amendment and its guarantee—although I’m still not sure what power that “well-regulated militia” phrase carries. I don’t like the thought of guns being held on me—luckily, I’ve only had that happen once in my life—but overall guns don’t cross my mind as often as, say, Three Doors Down or Three Dog Night.
Living in the Great North Woods, though, and talking with other men here, the topic of weapons comes up almost as often as fishing or weather. My fishing stories start with my grandfather ordering me out of his boat when I was four and wouldn’t shut up, and trail off after that. As for weather, other than hot or cold, wet or dry, snow or rain, I’m pretty tongue-tied as well. Almost every man I meet outside of town is carrying a gun, one of those things it took me a while to figure out. I’d thought Pittsburg was a town with a lot of bladder and urinary-tract problems, since so many of the men had small colostomy bags under their shirts. When it did dawn, the thought kind of shocked me by not shocking me. I mean, when I lived in Manchester or Nashua or even Durham, if I’d seen a non-law-enforcement person carrying a pistol, I would’ve wanted to cross the street. Here, though, it’s so natural, I really don’t notice anything except that I don’t have a gun.
I don’t want a gun, actually, but I don’t want to look out of place. I’ll never pretend to have a gun—that seems like a recipe for disaster—but I do want to fit in. I’ll be down in Manchester in the middle of the week and need to stop by the VA for a flu shot. Can anyone tell me the symptoms I should have to get a prescription for a small colostomy bag to carry on my right hip?