I’m dating again. Early in the process, I learned to use the word “process.” Women still seem to like psycho-babble. What they don’t like is guns. Not in these parts. Rhode Island is such a blue state they pipe Muddy Waters into elevators. The Ocean State is so liberal you have to hug a homosexual homeless person before you get married. During every one of my recent dates, I eventually got the impression that my female companions think I’m Travis Bickle. You know, certifiable. This occurs through the process Ralph calls “guided discovery.” In other words, my female companions ask questions clearly designed to reveal dangerous hopolophila. Here are the three most common queries and how I parry them. File it under “a man’s gotta do”. . .
Why do you feel that you need to carry it all the time?
Implicit in the question: you don’t need to carry a gun all the time and what the hell’s wrong with you? There are lots of standard replies to this one, from “Because cops are too heavy” to a bunch of heavy stats about crime mixed with hyper-local anecdotes.
None of these jocular or rational responses address the real problem: the obscure objects of my desire are scared of guns and, thus, me.
I go with “I don’t need to carry it all the time. I probably don’t need to carry it at all. But there may come a time, and I hope it never arrives, when I do need a gun. Maybe when my daughter’s life is in danger. (Note: not me.) If I need it then, I’ll have it.”
The obvious long-term solution to me-specific hopolophobia: I take the woman in question to the range. Once it worked. After an adrenalin rush of epic proportions, my date chilled the f out. Another time, not. She was a terrible student: the kind who doesn’t want to learn. Litmus test yes. Bummer? Definitely.
How many guns do you have?
Implicit in this question: if you have more than, say, three, you’re a nutcase. The standard reply: “some.” “A few.” “Not many.” Vagueness = defensiveness = Travis Bickle. Worse, deflection invites further inquiries about number and type. Answering that line of questioning honestly feeds the paranoia. Not answering feeds the paranoia.
I go with “How many pairs of shoes do you have?” The important play here: I MAKE HER LIST HER SHOES. Then I talk about different shooting solutions (not using the word solutions). I’ve got a handgun for target shooting, a handgun for personal defense, a rifle for long distance target shooting (not hunting) and a shotgun for trap shooting (not home defense).
Note: “a” gun. Yes, I have multiple firearms for all these disciplines. But there’s no way around the fact that saying “I’ve got three shotguns for home defense and ten handguns” puts me on a hiding to nowhere. I.e., another night watching Westerns. Alone. If she asks me how many guns I have in total, it’s “six.”
The obvious long-term solution: I buy her a gun. In theory. For someone living in Rhode Island that’s almost the same as telling someone with back pain to become a licensed chiropractor. I reckon the trick here is to get her to handle my most beautiful weapon. And then I unload, make safe and hand over a firearm.
How often do you go shooting?
Implicit in the question: just how obsessed are you? The standard reply: once a month. Which is, of course, a lie. (The honest reply: “As often as I possibly can.”)
I go with “Enough to make sure I can shoot safely.” Let’s call that a half-truth. The important play here: I change the subject before she can ask for a number. Either that or I hedgehog. What’s the best thing to do if someone hands you a hedgehog? Hand it back. “How many times do you think someone who owns a gun should practice with it?”
Note: practice? Well sure it is. Another half-truth? To quote Marge from Fargo, “you betcha.” Although this website is called The Truth About Guns I am not going to live a Soup for One lifestyle. Unless I have to. Because there is a long-term solution.
Bail. The only power I have in any negotiation is the power to walk away. If I’m on an actual date, chances are it will last long enough for me to pay the bill no matter what I say about guns. Sometimes, that’s enough. And if it isn’t, well, it isn’t. C’est la vie.
My chances of sustaining a relationship with a closed-minded anti are precisely zero. Conversion is one of those risk reward deals. If it’s not worth it, it’s not worth it. If it is, well, nuts.