A Week Vacation with Boyfriend... Day One

Maura "Hearst" at 22 with rifle

My boyfriend arrived to spend a week vacation with me in my tiny cottage, in a relatively remote and isolated location, nestled deep in the woods with degrees hovering 10 below 0.

He must really love me to come up here. I've an inkling he's burnt out from his high-pressure job and needs to crash for 7 days in a foetal position. Mind you, this is no vacation for me. I prefer Hawaii. Instead, I spent the better part of two weeks beating down the cobwebs (my luck he's tall), wrastling with the squirrels, and hosing the place down for his white glove test. While he's zoning out on the sofa, he may notice I missed a spot. If he points it out, I may lose it.

Hence, this blog post about rifles, guns and the 2nd amendment. Should he read this piece, it may be a wake up call. Hawaii, honey, Hawaii.

Once again, Americans are emotionally roped into another issue, divisive at best, that keeps our eyes off the 8 ball. Remember gay marriage that rocked the nation a few months ago? Reproductive rights during the electoral campaign? Yep. This time it's the 2nd Amendment.

It got us all in a tizzy.

I grew up with an old single bolt action rifle in the house. It was a decorative piece hanging on a rack over the sofa in the living room. It was decorative until I turned sixteen. Then it became a functional weapon: Mom waved it around when dates came to the front door to pick me up.

"Aw, what a pity. Marty seems like a nice boy," said Mom while Marty hightailed it back into his car, reversing while burning rubber in his haste.

The ones who didn't run away were the ones I wasn't allowed to date. Talk about a conundrum! And you wonder why I've issues?

When I was around seventeen, I risked life and limb to go out on the lake in my rowboat. As I mentioned in a prior post, the lake where we resided in the summer was dangerous, filled with rental boaters who didn't give a shit about obeying the laws of the lake. Everything's a target.

The moment I rowed away from the dock, some stranger in a rental motorboat made a beeline towards me. He swamped me. Swamping in this case means going around and around with bigger and bigger waves. Kids customarily circle once or twice as a prank with the knowledge that sinking a boat is verbatim especially when it involves drowning. This was no kid. He was an adult.

I yelled at the guy, "Schmuck. You're gonna capsize me. Knock it off."

He wouldn't stop.

Again, I yelled, "Look - there's a water skier. How about cutting through their lines?" That's the number one vice of boat renters.

He ignored my advice and circled three times.

"Look - a swimmer 40' from shore! Try to cut off his legs with your propeller." Another of their antics.

Persistent, he circled four, five, six, seven, eight, nine times. I guess drowning a teenager in a swimsuit was far more thrilling. With water pouring into the boat, the first thing to float out was my safety vest. I'm not a good swimmer so I was scared. At least I had the oars which I gripped with intensity.

Livid, I rowed home like a maniac in the sinking boat. He followed, laughing. While I docked, he went back and forth. I ran into the house, grabbed the rifle from its rack in the living room and ran right back outside.

He was bobbing in front of my dock, howling in laughter until I aimed the rifle.

"What are you, crazy?" he screamed. "This was all good fun!"

"And this is all good fun for me! Get the fuck away," I yelled back. "Or I'll shoot."

Within minutes, the Sheriff came knocking at the door.

"Did you just point a rifle at a rental boater?"

"Yes I did, Officer. He tried to capsize my boat. I lost my life vest and I'm not a good swimmer. So, I figured, a life for a life, right?"

Behind me, my father groaned. "Oh boy. Officer, it's broken."

The Sheriff said, "Let me be the judge of that. Get the rifle now."

I went to the living room, pulled it off the rack again and brought it to the door. The Sheriff rolled his eyes. "There's no bolt on this. It's broken."

"Yet effective," I said. "I scared the shit outta that guy. I doubt he'll swamp anyone ever again."

Since then, Dad gave the rifle away. He knew me too well.

In my early 20's, I went target shooting with my brother and a group of friends. One of them had a rifle.  The others carried six-packs of beer. As responsible adults, we decided to go far away in the woods to shoot at paper targets.

This was my second experience with a working rifle. The first time, at nineteen, was in France at a skeet shoot. My friend put a heavy rifle in my hand, explained how to use a sight and then let the disk loose. I fired. After they picked me up from the ground with a dislocated shoulder, I kinda swore off that activity.

This time, the rifle was thinner and lighter and I wanted to try my hand at it. We walked a well trodden path up a mountain side. In a clearing, we hung a paper target and put the beer far away. Just in case. To start off, each person had a chance to shoot the rifle. Then we compared the results.

"OMG Maura," yelled my brother. "You got bull's eyes each time."

That shocked the shit outta me as well as others. Since we were competitive, the beer was neglected because now everyone wanted to prove they were better shots than me. No time to get soused for this was serious business.

After an hour of incredulous shrieks at my accuracy, we heard a rustling in the woods. Suddenly, a man in a business suit emerged into the clearing. His eyeglasses hung askew off his face, his tie looped backwards and he had leaves in his hair.

"You guys almost killed me!"

"What," we cried. "Where the hell did you come from? We're miles from anyone! We're on top of a mountain."

"Yes, but you're the same level as the highway a few miles away. I followed the sound of your shots."

Which accounted for one errant miss. It was a fluke, but scared us sufficiently to never target practice again in the woods with six-packs of beer. We realized the legal liability. Always shoot responsibly. Drink later without a rifle around.

A Bad Hair Day at the Range
When I was an urban girl, I feared guns, not unwieldy rifles with which I felt familiar after my two experiences.

Which reminds me of an incident when I was a banker. My colleague and I animatedly discussed office politics while walking up Water Street in downtown Manhattan. A street vendor to the right of us dropped the metal lid to his hot dog canister. It fell to the sidewalk with a loud BOOM. Directly in front, a man whirled around and pointed a gun at us.

We didn't miss a beat. We continued walking. Goes to show what Wall Street bankers have in their veins. He whirled around again in front of us and continued walking. Seconds later, a horn honked and he turned around to point his gun at us.

"I don't think we should walk behind this guy," I suggested to my friend.

I felt many maniacs were in possession of those weapons. I still feel that way, but have come to realize it's mostly unlicensed, illegal guns in criminal hands.

My attitude about guns changed when I moved to a remote and isolated location in the country. I joke to people that if they don't see me in town for a few days and if someone spots wildlife heading my direction to surround the cottage, call the constables. This is a serious concern and a harsh reality. I'm far away from ambulances and police. Our fire departments are on a volunteer basis. If I'm in an accident, chances are I may die before anyone finds out to help.

That's a risk I'm willing to take. But, I don't want to take a risk from the criminal elements. There's no reason why anyone should come to my home late at night nestled deep in the woods, uninvited without contacting me in advance. Unless they intend to harm me. Period.

In the country, everyone has a gun or more. They're in the same position as me. Which is why no one casually drops by in the evening. If they knew me, they'd phone, text or email in advance. Or identify themselves before breaking in. For, who in their right mind would go five miles out of their way on unpaved roads just for a social visit in the middle of the night? To even find us is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Yet, for all those licensed guns, we don't have murders here. We don't have shooting sprees. Many are hunters who abide by the law. There are tons of laws about hunting wildlife, the type, location and time of year. People are serious about their guns and their usage.

It's considered a privilege, not a right even though it is a right.

I don't condone the spate of mass murders that have recently occurred, especially with non-licensed gun users. When you consider the number of Americans with gun permits, that amount's disproportionately low. And I support handguns, not military-grade assault weapons. That's a clear line of demarcation. I can't think of any reason why a citizen should have these types of weapons.

And those are my two cents. Take it or leave it.

The boyfriend must've had esp or something for we spent the first day and night at a luxury hotel.

Coming soon: Day Two

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