[“Nervous gun ownership” is a series of posts documenting a new gun-buyer’s experience. It was not prompted by, nor is it commentary on, the Aurora shooting.]

On the way home from the ol’ weaponry store on day one, I was very, very excited.

“I can’t believe we have a gun,” I said to Ian. “Like, a real gun.”

“I know,” he said.

He’s in the military, so he has weapon experience – rifles, handguns, grenades, and things – and a government-issued Beretta that he can only take out for training (or, should it occur, deployment) purposes.  But he’s never had one in the house.

Day 1, I was prepared to carry it everywhere with me. “Like one of those egg-baby projects some kids have to do for school,” I said.

“Really?”

“That’s how I’ll become comfortable with it,” I said. “It has to become an extension of me.”

He shrugged. “Okay.”

But then, Day 2, a Monday, I had to go to work, and everything. And then after work, I was pretty tired.

I would touch it Tuesday.

*

DAY 3

I didn’t want to touch it Tuesday, either.

It sat where it sat, in the place where I’d put it, the whole day and into that evening.

That morning before work, though, to my credit, I did pick it up and do some aiming into the hallway with a “Pchew! Pchew!” noise, but then I had to get ready, so I really couldn’t spend much time with it.

After work, I was tired again, so it really wasn’t the right time to–

“So!” Ian said that night at what seemed like a very late hour. “You want to take apart your gun?”

Why did everything have to be about the stupid gun? The gun I wanted to love, but couldn’t, because it had such bad potential. Not on its own, but in my hands. Everyone has their moments when they, say, fall over for no reason, drop the same thing three times in a row, or accidentally wave a gun around in the range after being hit in the forehead with a shell-casing. (The bullets had all been expended with that one, so there was no danger. Luckily.)

That night, though, I also just wasn’t in the mood to learn anything. Ian loves knowing how things work. He “explores” computers and, if something is broken, will try to fix it. (He almost always figures it out.) While he’s in there and learning all the intricacies, though, if he comes across something that doesn’t make sense to him, he MUST learn its purpose.

I just want to use whatever it is, and I don’t care how it works or why. Especially at night. I would learn better in the morning, I told him.

“Yeah, but, evening is the only time we have together except for weekends,” he said.

“I know. I just don’t want to do it right now. What about tomorrow, right after wo…? Oh, you’re working late.”

“Yep.”

“Oh.”

“I thought you said you wanted to know it,” he said. After a minute or two of my quiet, he said, “That was wrong. If you don’t feel like it, you don’t feel like it. Never mind.”

He was right, though. I really did want to know it, and I actually was interested in taking it apart. I’d told him the day before that I wanted to be so fast at it I could enter a competition. (Not that I’d enter, but I wanted to be that fast.)

“Okay,” I said.

“You really don’t have to,” he was saying, but I was already on my way to get it.

Now, you may remember that everything on the gun was very tight. This made for a very frustrated Ian, who was the first to take it apart not only because he’d taken apart other weapons, but because the thing was so impossible. I did not have the hand strength to take off parts that relied on the movement of other parts that were absolutely not moving.

Little by little, his thumbs sore from rubbing and rubbing against the levers that wouldn’t budge (and after some curious fiddling with a lever whose function he really needed to know right then), he got it apart. Every moveable thing of the gun was slid, fiddled with, pulled, or pushed at least twenty times in the course of his disassembly, and I watched all of it, learning along with him what steps to take, and the nuances of some of those steps.

By the time he was done, I had it all in my head, and I told him I would do it myself the next day while he was at work. “I’ll send you pictures!”

DAY 4

Wednesday, I started carrying the gun everywhere with me. Maybe it was the disassembly, or maybe it was Ian’s reminder to me about what I’d said I wanted to do. Whatever it was, the gun was now with me for coffee, walking through the house, sitting on the couch, and brushing my teeth. That morning, I studied it while we sat together in the living room.

“You left DNA in my gun,” I said.

“What?”

“DNA,” I said, and showed him the ridges in a lever where his thumb-skin shaved off.

*

I almost felt bad that it was so much easier for me.

After work, his lesson still fresh in my head after watching him struggling to do the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over again (have I mentioned how tight the parts and levers were?), I went through the process myself after having a nice floss.

And I experienced none of the trouble he did, thanks to all of his loosening.

Putting it back together was just as uncomplicated, and me and gun were friends. For a few hours, at least. Later that night, things got a little weird.

Next: DAY 4, the night time

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About Kris Tsetsi

Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website: http://kristenjtsetsi.com

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nervous gun ownership, Writing

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