My dad’s best friend, also a doctor, made house calls in the middle of the night on Long Island, packing a pistol in a shoulder holster. So of course my dad had to have one of those too. Then there was the blackout of 1965, when the entire Northeast went mysteriously dark for hours. You’d better believe we were glad our dad had a working collection of guns.
After I’d grown up, got hippified and moved to San Francisco, I began to experience a fear factor that was restrictive to an annoying degree. I’d already decided that guns were stupid, after being rousted a number of times from my meditation spot back in the Catskills by trespassing hunters, so I began to study a martial art called aikido.
Why would I need a gun when I can just radiate non-violent energy instead? became my new mantra. So I went about my business for the next quarter of a century, peaceful, non-violent, and gun-less.
When I bought a house in a rural part of Oregon, I lived alone on four acres for a number of years. By that time, I’d gotten my third-degree black belt in aikido, and had amassed a number of different t-shirts and sweat-shirts from the dojos I’d trained in. I called them my “Don’t F*ck With Me" collection. Whenever someone was scheduled to come over and help me fix something with the house, I’d be sure to wear one of them. I told all my neighbors about my training too, which seems to give a woman a certain mystique of inscrutable power, not to be messed with on a whim. I also learned how to operate a chainsaw.
Then one day while reading Mother Earth magazine, the pinnacle publication of peace, love and composting, I came across a letter written by someone who’d overheard a conversation at their local feed store, which went something like this:
Redneck #1: Are you stocking up for when things go bad?
Redneck #2: Just on bullets. If things get really bad, I’ll just go over to the hippie farmers down the road and take what they have.
I began thinking about guns and the apocalypse with renewed interest. After all, even Atticus Finch had a gun, plus I found respect for them when we had to call a neighbor to come over and put a broken fawn out of her misery. I remembered that I’d been taught to shoot a small rifle and a pistol, and when we were older, our father was happy to give us quarters for the shooting arcade game at the local pizzeria.
So I visited the local arcade at the mall, where I discovered a video game called “House of the Dead.” I found that I took great pleasure in shooting the heads off cartoon zombies. In fact, I made it my practice to go to the arcade whenever I felt frustrated with one thing or another, to blast the heads off zombies with a plastic pistol. Then I relaxed back into my old non-violent comfort zone, filing the whole gun ownership issue in the back of my mind. After all, I told myself, I have an acute sense of awareness and there are lots of weapon-like things around the house anyway. Why bother with a gun?
A few years later I married a high school buddy from New York who remembers me way before my black belt or my purchase of a chainsaw. Even a bigger peacenik than me, he has never even held a gun, let alone shot one.
One weekend we rented The Road. It was so scary we considered turning it off in the middle, but we’re both Viggo Mortensen fans, so we forced ourselves to see it through in his honor. Afterwards, there was no question about whether tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping peaceniks like ourselves would wind up as toast or even dinner, after such an apocalypse. Would an arsenal of guns keep us safe? For how long?
The old mall arcade now long gone and replaced by a cell phone store, I discovered a House of the Dead game at our local bowling establishment, which thrilled me – I hadn’t seen it in years! I got several dollars’ worth of quarters and initiated my husband. Within minutes, he’d become a homicidal maniac like myself, shooting the heads off zombies with great gusto!
Things being the way they are, I’m still considering getting a real gun and taking lessons at the local shooting range. But for now, we’ve decided to purchase a Playstation and get House of the Dead. We want to be ready for when those zombies start attacking the place.