Ken and I went to see Mark Wahlberg’s new movie, Shooter, this weekend. It’s a typical guy movie with lots of shooting and explosions. The main characters are Mark Wahlberg and Mark Wahlberg’s rifle. Upon returning home from our afternoon bloodfest, we yelled hellos to our neighbor, R____, who was outside barbecuing, and told him we’d just been to see Shooter.“Dudes! No shit? I heard his gun was fuckin’ awesome!”
We agreed that is was, indeed, an awesome gun and went into the house.
A little background about my neighbor is in order here. Will Farrell used to do a character on SNL called the “Get of the shed” guy. He would play an average guy, having a family barbecue in the backyard with some friends. They would be drinking beer and talking about sports or something, then this guy would suddenly yell out to his kids “HEY KIDS, GET OFF THE DAMN SHED!” in a loud, obnoxious voice. He’d go back to his conversation, then start yelling at the kids again, getting progressively more upset until eventually he’d be threatening to beat the crap out of his kids in front of everyone. It was cringe-funny because I think everyone’s been in an uncomfortable situation like that at least once in their lives where a parent just starts going off on his kids in front of other people.
Last summer, Ken and I re-did the hardwood floors on the main floor of the house. It was an amazingly dirty and hot job, but the results were fantastic. After they were sanded, R came over to see how we were doing.
“These floors look fuckin’ great!” he exclaimed in his bigger-than-life voice. “Did you rent a machine or…” R looked out of our open side window and saw his kids climbing on the canoe in his side yard. “HEY BOYS! GET OFF THE CANOE!” “I SAID GET OFF THE CANOE NOW! DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE” Slight pause – “So, did you rent a machine or what?”
Thus was born the Get off the Canoe guy.
Fast forward back to Saturday evening. Two minutes after we got in the house, a hyperactive thudding on the front door told us immediately that R had come a-callin’. And indeed he had; he had come to show us HIS new rifle.
“Dudes! Check it out!” He opens his large, rectangular black case and pulls out a very scary-looking black rifle. Ken and I made the appropriate oohing and ahhing sounds, and R insisted we both sight through the scope so he could show us all the cool things you could do with the little adjuster thingie on the top.
Ken and I are not anti-gun people. We just don’t happen to own any, except for an old shotgun that we keep unloaded in the closet. My brother owns guns and he is very generous about letting us shoot them out at our folks’ house in the country. I appreciate the fact that our country allows its citizens own guns if they so choose, but personally, I don’t feel the need to have that kind of protection in my home.
I could really tell that Ken was anxious to get R out of the house so he could watch the rest of the KU game on TV, so I suggested to R that we go out on the front porch to smoke cigarettes and have a chat. In addition to being a gun nut, R is also an anti-government survivalist junkie. I’ll bet you’re really surprised by that. All conversations with R eventually lead to his latest theories about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, all with the help of our government. Not being the current administration’s biggest fan myself, I find these conversations mildly amusing.
“Hey guess what” he says to me after lighting up our smokes. “I just got a whole bunch of seeds from this local grower? And they’re guaranteed not to have their DNA modified? So we’re going down south to where we have some land and we’re gonna grow our own food. How fuckin’ awesome is that? I’ll tell you how awesome it is; did you hear that the federal government has a new program where they’re growing corn with human DNA implanted in it? That’s fucked up, ain’t it?.”
During this mini-tirade, I can hear R’s wife calling his name to come eat dinner – which R ignores for awhile. The next subject is civilian concentration camps: “Did you know that our government is building concentration camps for civilians? I’m tellin’ ya, it’s gonna happen. You need to get… – R leans over the porch railing, directing his upper body towards his house and yells “HEY! I’M COMING, OK? I’LL BE THERE IN A SEC!” He turns back to me and says “I guess I’d better go. You think about getting you a gun before they start trying to put us all in camps. I’m serious.” I promise to think about it. Over the years I’ve found that agreeing with R is the most direct route to getting him off the porch. I suppose I could yell “GET OFF THE PORCH!” but somehow I don’t think he would fully appreciate just how funny that would be.
Back in the house, Ken is laughing. “You just had to get him going, didn’t you?” he says.
“I figured it would be better to get him outside so you could watch the game. Besides, I was hoping to get a story for my blog.”
So there you have it.