“So, how do you feel about the way things are going these days?”
I usually say when asked, (and believe me with a California plate, I am getting asked,) that I am tired of politics, tired of watching my country flounder and flail while people who have been taught to stay on their side of a fictitious fence sit and throw barbs at one another. Or if I’m pressed for time, “I don’t trust any of ‘em. Politicians are rarely out for the people and are usually out for themselves.”
This approach seems to be working thus far. But I still am aware of many a steely eye looking at me with an unpleasant glint reflecting a thought; “You know I could push you on this further, right?” It’s only gone past the glance once, I stood my ground and walked away bored and unsettled. A waste of my time especially since I don’t believe in an afterlife; every moment of my life is all the more precious.
So many folk are out there yelling at each other and I’m over here wondering, “Hey, what’s this state like? Anybody got room for us? Want to talk about food? Going to Mars? Read any good books lately? What did you think about this one? Where have you travelled to? Did you like it?
‘Round here it’s all about God and guns. The radio stations consist of at least five varieties of folk singing their hearts out to or about Jesus. Not to mention the billboards selling God. And Guns. And confederate flags. I shit you not I have seen shops selling “starts & bars” right next to crosses and bullets. (I’m waiting for the Confederate flag cross-shaped ammo carrier because that would be like winning some sort of “Souther Trifecta” or something.)
I am decidedly ambivalent about guns though I was taken a little aback when the mechanic who was giving us a lift mentioned in conversation, “my gun goes with me everywhere,” and I realized he was carrying. The very prosaic side I no doubt owe most of my survival to took this in stride. I shrugged in reply to this along with a non-answer along the lines of, “Well, if you feel the need, then that’s what’s going to happen” or some such. Honestly I wasn’t really that bothered. I suppose I should have been, but at that point all I cared about was getting the van moving again, getting a cold drink (it was 111 out) and finding a place to stay that wouldn’t break the bank.
The fuck-it factor was high that day. Has been ever since, really. Because it just keeps happening.
There was a family we were hanging out in a random motel, kids in the pool, the adults sharing their beers and tips on sustainable living. We were getting along well and then they were very politely asking me if the gun on the nightstand (on top of the BIBLE, no less,) was offensive in any way. Thinking quickly of Ducky playing with their three children outside, I honestly replied, “It doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but it might scare my boy a little.”
Nothing but the truth.
I have been around gun-culture before, back when one could walk into a bar in Arizona and throw one’s gun down on the table to talk about it’s fine points with others present. I have fired weapons, both at backwood fence posts, and at long distance targets on a rifle range.
The only thing Ducky knows about guns is what he sees in the movies and on TV. Not watching the news he only has the vaguest sort of clue that he lives in the only country in the world that regularly has mass shootings. I’m not sure he fully understands why he has grown up with “lock-down” drills. Earthquake drills are what I remember. But then again my mother grew up with a decidedly different “duck & cover” program.
If we move here, I will take him out to a range and show him what we live with. Not because I’m pro or con but because like the overly abundant mosquitoes, they seem to be something we are going to have to learn to live with. I’d rather he not freeze up in terror at his first sighting of one. He will learn the rules and if a family doesn’t seem to know them he will get his ass home.
There is also truth to the statement I just made to my friend this week, “The people we have met have nearly all been gun-toting, God-fearing, conservative rednecks who would drop everything to help us in an emergency.” But then again I took certain bumper stickers off and don’t say a lot to make waves. I fear what might happen if I did.
On the other hand, it sure is nice to walk around in an area where everyone says Hello with a wave and a smile. From the smallest backwood town, to campground to small gas station stop, I haven’t had anyone glance over or past me. There are friendly waves and smiles from porches and rusted out trucks. And they are genuine. It baffles me how people with hearts so filled with kindness and grace can turn so quickly into angry, desperate folk.
These people confound me.
But I sure do like ‘em.
Hopefully I won’t get shot.
Forever and ever, Amen.
(Says the non-theist, queer, ½ mexican, charity accepting, single mother from California. Heh.)