Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cleaning My Gun

The wind blew north along the beach. The drying sand swirled and flowed in a corrosive current, like a sheer river of mist. This, after the rain had stopped.

I had taken a walk with my camera, hoping to capture an interesting image, but only managing to muck up the works with rain, sand and salt.

Fortunately, my spacious, but over-stuffed, camera bag contained all of the cleaning supplies I could ever hope to need.

And so, I sat, with my scotch in front of the fire, armed with brushes and blowers and solutions and compounds. I had soft rags and lens tissues. I had everything I needed for the delicate maintenance task at hand.

So, slowly and methodically, I removed and cleaned each component. taking care to protect the all-important glass. It was time consuming, but meditative, and I enjoyed the detail.

The missus noted my calm focus and asked whether I enjoyed cleaning my camera as much as I enjoyed cleaning my gun.

"Good question," I thought.

My gun is a stainless steel Smith and Wesson .357 revolver. Some of you have seen it. Some of you have fired it. Some of you were there with your own guns when we shot down that tree...

I like to shoot my gun, whether with the wimpy .38 practice rounds, or with the occasional .357 magnum rounds that wake the mountain gods from their slumber.

The only thing I like more about my gun than shooting it, perhaps, is cleaning it. It is a quiet steady ritual that involves a cold drink and solitary attention to detail.

That image, though, conjures another thought. A cliche. A gender-based hang-up perpetuated by old fashioned western values.

As I clean my gun, even as I did so a decade ago, before I was even close to parenthood, I pictured myself polishing the cold steel as my daughter's date rang the door bell to pick her up...

She is only three now, so, I'm still a good distance from that time. However, I hope now, as I look ahead, that my vision will not come to pass.

Sure, I know that teenage boys are testosterone-ridden maniacs hell-bent on only one goal. But I hope to be able to trust her judgment. I hope not to have, and therefore not pass down, the same puritanical prejudices against sexuality that were passed down to me.

I hope that by that time, I will have prepared her to make her own reasonable and responsible choices, to have the self-confidence and assertiveness, so that I do not have to resort to threats or fear to maintain control.

Still, I'm not sure how I'm going to do that. So, for now, I'll keep the gun, as well as the camera, clean and in good working order.


  1. I am several years ahead of you on that front.

    I think the best we can do is to be good fathers.

    Women tend to marry men like their fathers. And when you act, you can always ask yourself, "Would I want my daughter's husband to do this?"

  2. "Would I want my daughter's husband to get high on cold syrup, paint his entire body with grape jam, and masturbate to reruns of Mama's Family?"

    Sure, OK...

  3. We've had the same vision at our house although it involves hubby cleaning the shot gun

  4. Friday nights are for gun cleaning, Saturdays for knife sharpening. All dates must come into the house. Pockets shall be emptied onto the copy machine. Proper ID will be produced.

    Yeah, I am living in a dream world.

    The best things we can give our daughters are self-awareness, confidence, and our attention. Some of the questions they ask are tough, but if we build the relationship now it pays off later.

  5. Well... first let me say - I assumed your post on "cleaning your gun" was going to be figurative, not literal.

    As Machiavelli asked - is it better to be loved or feared? Your "interviews" with prospective suitors for your daughters clearly come to the same conclusions that he did - fear is the better alternative.

  6. Lucky Red7:09 PM

    "Wicked men obey for fear, but the good, for love"- Aristotle.

    "And for a wicked man, give your daughter a pearl handle- butterfly switchblade that fits neatly into a back pocket of tight jeans or slips nicely into a boot with three inch heels"- Lucky Red

  7. As someone who grew up without a father, let me assure you that there are girls who do just fine without overbearing daddies trying to scare dates. The truly concerned parent teaches his children (regardless of their gender) how to handle themselves in difficult circumstances.

    And, something tells me that monkey, smart girl that she is, is going to know how to handle boys by the time she is old enough to date. She won't need the embarrassment of daddy cleaning his gun like a redneck longing for coon season.

  8. fortunately for the monkey, that was exactly my point.

  9. Andrea Dworkin5:22 AM

    all sex is rape

  10. Hehe-- ah yes, I've witnessed Fred's assertion firsthand, when Moolah and my little man met for the first time nearly a year ago. She reached out to give him a hug good-bye towards the end of our visit, and since this was the first time he had played with anyone his age, he didn't quite know what to make of it. When we encouraged him to give her a hug back, Moolah decided she was having no more of it, and backed away when he stretched his arms out.

    Undeterred, he took a step towards her. She took another backwards step. Fortunately, Todd found it very funny and began laughing.

    Both fathers were proud-- Moolah's for displaying the proper reaction to boys, and Todd's for taking the rejection with such good humor!


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