PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Jenny Got A Gun

OK, this is one of those rare occasions where I'll allow the use of the nickname Jenny, but only by me. So don't start thinkin' it's cool. The point is, I got a shotgun. A Remington youth Express, 20-gauge pump shotgun, and it wasn't because I wanted to start hunting with JWo. In fact, I had a lot of angst over the decision, but given what had happened, and more to the point, how I felt at the time, I found the next morning a resolve in me that I would never, ever feel that way again.

A few weeks ago, at 2:30 in the morning, the doorbell rang. James was away on a fishing trip. The dogs went crazy, of course, and I was still asleep enough to just be confused. I went to the bathroom - and then the doorbell rang again. It was as though all the blood in my veins turned to ice. I put on a robe, and went to the original front door to look out & try to see who was at the other front door, and I could see a minivan parked in our driveway - a vehicle I did not recognize. The doorbell rang AGAIN. I went for the phone & called 911. They dispatched an officer, and in the meantime, I paced, out of sight of our main front door (which does not allow you to peek out unseen.) Then I heard a male voice saying my name. A voice I did not recognize. The dogs continued to go CRAZY, renewing their barking each time the doorbell rang. And while they sound ferocious, and Suzy looks intimidating, they're still black labs - it takes one slim jim or a jerky treat and they're your BFF. This doorbell-ringing-dogs-barking-name-calling-out thing went on for nearly 15 minutes, and the police still were not there. All our doors were locked, as they always are. I was glad I'd double-checked, though. I was preparing myself to rush out the back, and the operator on the line was NOT particularly comforting or helpful. (Monotone: "Don't do anything to put your life in danger." was the reply to any questions about what I should do. That's another blog in of itself.) In the end, I peeked out again & the van was gone. The operator sounded frustrated and disappointed (she had not wanted to stay on the line with me in the first place), and in my state of mind, made me question whether having the police come now was at all necessary. ("Well, do you still WANT the police officer?" I was like, lady, I'm having a fucking heart attack, I think perhaps YOU should be making this decision!) Since I was not IN a rational state of mind, I told her ok, cancel the officer, they're gone now. In retrospect, that was stupid, and I would think the entire scenario would have warranted the officer visiting to make sure everything was ok. But that is why it's called hindsight. In any event, I called James, his cell phone woke up his mom, who had him call back, and I had a mini-nervous breakdown, with dogs racing around me, trying to fix it, too. I told myself to breathe, breathe, breathe, because if I actually HAD a heart attack, it was obviously going to take forever for the response team to get there! I didn't sleep most of the night, keeping a vigilant watch out the window, and finding that every time I'd try to lie down, the sheer vulnerability of being prone overwhelmed me so much I was compelled to get back up again. I can say, without hesitation, I have never. Ever. been so afraid in my entire life. Nobody called the next day, and we still don't know who it was. But they knew my name, and that was the creepiest part of all.

And so, the next morning, I decided I needed to learn how to shoot one of the hunting guns we have here in the house. I talked to my closest friends about the conflict within me. I felt like it went in complete opposition to my pacifism. And yet, I never felt so convinced of the need to know, now. And that led to me getting my own shotgun, with the youth model providing a shorter stock & barrel, being easier for me to handle. Not that I'm eager to shoot anyone, stranger, robber, nothing of the sort. I just cannot ever feel so defenseless again - and the police response time probably underlined that feeling, given just how long it took. (The police car did drive by several minutes after we "cancelled" them, with a searchlight. Unfortunately, a minivan drove by in the other direction a few minutes later. Who knows if it was the same one.) I still would want my first option to be flight, and I was prepared to do so, despite my legs shaking like jelly.

The decision about getting a gun was one I made with the utmost of difficulty. I've always been around guns, because my father hunts. I was always cautioned mightily against touching them, and I steered clear. I still believe that guns are dangerous, that we have far too many in this country, I see no need for automatic weaponry of any kind, and I'm not particularly fond of handguns, except for target practice. Neither of us wanted a handgun in the house. I feel all of these things, and yet I spent some weekend time on Saturday in the blazing sun, shooting my new shotgun at a couple of milk jugs, feeling the recoil in my shoulder, smelling the black acrid smoke as it came out of the barrel, hearing the clink of the spent casing as it ejected with a pump. I wasn't a great shot, and I hope the only time I ever have to fire it is on the shooting range. I will always have caution & respect for my gun. I take the responsibility of handling it very seriously. But while it sounds rather dramatic, like a swooning Scarlett O'Hara when I say it: I will never be that afraid again.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:09 PM