I was driving to the hardware store this morning to buy a timer for my new “Let it Snow” holiday lights when I passed a sign for a gun show. I have NEVER wanted to go to a gun show until now. I had a few reasons
- I read Paul Theroux’s Deep South earlier this year. In it, he visits numerous gun shows to uncover parts of Southern culture with which he was unfamiliar. I thought I might learn something about Alaska.
- There are many men at gun shows!
- I’ll try anything once.
This particular show was being held in the common room of a Catholic High School. I was not the only one who thought this strange. Everyone in the parking lot marched in the wrong direction to the church hall thinking- no it won’t be in the high school, but we were wrong. I guess The Catholic Education system needs all the friends and money they can get.
I was only slightly shaky going in, as if people could read my mind. They can sometimes read my hands so I kept them behind my back, like I was visiting a museum. ” It’s just another Holiday fair”, I told myself. “People will be happy to see you. Lighten up”, I thought.
No one was mean to me but there was no attempt to be overly friendly and no Christmas decorations or music. They could have had some LED Holiday lights made of little pistols or a target practice booth starring Rudolph. It was a refreshing to find such a low tech affair in this season of bedazzlement. The only snacks available were man snacks – hot dogs and chips.
Yes, men. This group was not diverse. Everyone who ever visited my online dating profile, (and who was a real person), was in attendance. Lone, unsmiling men with not just a gun or two but with COLLECTIONS of FIREARMS are surprisingly available. I’m not saying these men were dangerous but perhaps authorities should scan my dating hits.
As Theroux noted, no one seemed to actually be buying guns. Everyone was just looking, like at a car lot. At the entrance, the historical guns drew me in. These aren’t bought for killing but for the craft and the provenance. Since this is Alaska, most of the old pistols looked Western in nature although I admit I was afraid to ask. I’m sure people don’t mind talking about things they love but I believe they like selling these items much better. I didn’t take photos either, because then I would have to ask permission and I was just getting by without pooping. That’s my default when I’m anxious. So I told myself, “It’s okay to just observe. Next time, when you’re really in the market for a killing machine, you can be more social.”
I now know what a pepper pot pistol is. It has multiple barrels like this one from http://www.deactivated-guns.co.uk/obsolete-calibre-firearms/rare-b-cogswell-percussion-pepper-pot-or-pepper-box-pinfire-five-shot-pistol-/prod_6305.html#
Army Surplus greeted me next. Ammo cans were available at low, low prices. Next came some more modern firearms and knives. No poisons or concertina wire, stuff a murderer might want, just stuff for hunting and self defense was for sale. A few first aid and survivalist items booths came stocked with clotting sponges and Quikclot. One vendor brought some random DVDs, cookbooks, Alaskana and costume jewelry. I spent an inordinate amount of time at this booth even daring to touch the goods.
I got to practice restraint. Some might say I’m just a coward. I overheard conversations where I chose not to butt in and offer my opinion. One shopper began quizzing a vendor in a loud voice, ” You know what the sole purpose of the government is..?” I was curious, in a bad way, to know the definitive answer to this one but God showed me the nature of my wrongs. The man repeated the question at least ten times before I moved on. I’m sure the vendor would have liked to have left as well.
Then there was the not so gentleman who was arguing, with a fairly reasonable salesman, about the rights of Native Alaskans/Americans. He informed us that they were “a conquered people” and “It doesn’t seem fair” to have to pay in order for him to hunt and fish on “their” land. The salesperson did not agree and was trying to educate in a polite way so I left well enough alone.
This was worth the price of admission. I sometimes need to step back and let other people fix things or let them be unable to fix them. Also I need to not complain about being single. The admission was $5. I paid it because that’s pretty cheap for admission to the enemy camp. Not that these people are really my enemies but at least I got a look at their weapons. I left without an emotional or physical injury and learned that Paul Theroux must have been on acid. These weren’t the folksy, funny people he showed me. Maybe if I spent more time with them, I would have seen this side but I don’t have time to give every white gun owner in town my empathy right now. It’s the holiday season, and that’s all I have scheduled for them.
I’m sure some of you have other insights to offer me. Feel free to share them in the comments but only if they include some humor. If you are short on that I may be sponsoring an Anxiety and Humor fair next holiday season. I’ll have to see if The Catholic Schools have any room for that. There will be lots of Christmas lights, music and much better food!