LOCKED AND LOADED AT HOME: MY WIFE PACKS HEAT
My wife and have a few ongoing conflicts. One involves the climate-controlled temperature of our home, cars, etc. Another has to do with differing opinions on the best washing machine design, and another, while not your business, often results in my playing late night Xbox and sleeping on the sofa. Nothing too serious or out of line with most of our well-adjusted friends, anyway. Happily, our largest conflict was recently resolved, thanks to an unexpected run-in with an old friend, who happens to be a couples therapist.
Let’s get it right out there in the open. It is true: my wife is a gun owner. A connoisseur of the modern firearm. Her love of firearms, and more importantly, her right to own them, did not simply materialize. It did not come from a traumatic experience or event. It happened as naturally as someone being from someplace carrying that place’s accent. She comes from a long line of gun owners and has always been around them.
For that matter, I myself come from a long line of gun owners. Growing up in northern Minnesota, folks own guns. When I was fifteen years old, I went through required gun safety training. When I got my driver’s license, it noted my gun-abilities on the back. I was, in fact, very good with a gun. Mobile targets. Stationary targets. Live. Inanimate. Big. Small. I could blow them all away. But when I turned 18, I moved to the city and attended a prominent university. I now work as a writer. I have a wonderful home in a terrific neighborhood protected by police and an active community watch program. My wife and I have a 4-year-old son. When asked today, I am not a gun guy. I don’t really know why. Perhaps, like ice-fishing, I have simply fallen out of practice and no longer have the interest in re-engaging in expensive, time consuming hobbies outside of my aforementioned Xbox playing (I am an avid indoorsman).
My wife is terrific. She is beautiful, energetic, and creative – the best mom and wife anyone could ask for. Prior to our marriage, she was a licensed taxidermist. She is better than me at camping, prowling through the woods, and of course, with guns. She likes her guns. Each gun serves a purpose. One is for small fowl, one large. One is for deer. One for bear. One for big game – like, big game. One for home protection. The list goes on.
When we lived in the Midwest, having hunting rifles in the home seemed as natural as having food in the fridge, or a table in the dining room. It was a matter of geography. Our problem arose when we moved permanently to Los Angeles, when her guns got wrapped and packed into the moving truck. What would we possibly do with guns in Los Angeles? Protection of home and family was her line, and she towed it. I was stupefied. I could not understand what was possibly more dangerous about moving from the woods to an upper class neighborhood populated with stroller pushing nannies and dog walking trophies and attractive successful gay couples. I gave in. It was for my career that we uprooted and made Los Angeles our home. I got Los Angeles. She got her guns.
But it wasn’t just the guns. For me, it was the statistics about guns in the home being more dangerous to the occupants than any possible intruders. It was the stories about bright-eyed children finding and falling victim to lethal weapons. If an intruder came into our home, the need to get out of bed, find the gun box, unlock the gun box, remove the gun, find the ammunition, load the gun with ammunition (all in the dark), prowl the house in an effort to find and then engage someone looking for my TV, seemed far less efficient or intelligent than rounding up the kids and fleeing the home (or maybe turning on my iPhone’s video recorder, probably calling 911).
That’s where my old friend, the couples therapist comes in. Finding out that we had permanently returned to LA, the flood gates opened, and I went on and on about how in just a short few months at our new home, the gun truce was broken and a drastic escalation of conflict occurred. It was poisoning everything else in our lives. The conversation turned to guns or eye rolling or scoffing or groaning at every corner, over every tiny infraction people who share space knowingly or unknowingly enact on each other. The bottom line was: more than anything, I wanted her and my son to be safe, but guns in the home seemed to contradict that possibility.
My friend smiled. Apparently, this is a common symptom of a much larger problem, one which modern men are dealing with. That problem, or prevailing theory, is that we men are simultaneously aware of our own physical powerlessness and our culture’s mandate that we serve as protectors. The metro-sexualization of American men, while many will argue carries several pros, is also being pointed to for creating an anxiety complex. It’s a chemistry thing. We are supposed to fight, protect, provide. Be macho. Square off at bars. It’s how we are wired. The point is, my problem was not with the guns specifically, my problem was a perceived emasculation. Correctly diagnosed, a regiment of masculine activities were prescribed, such as none of your business. A list of gun pros and compromises was made and agreed to. I am my home’s rooster, the cock of the walk, the provider/protector again. I pretend our guns are for the apocalypse. With that in mind, I go over to the gun range on occasion, to re-familiarize myself with the handling of firearms, how to quickly assemble them and use them. Reminded of the sensation firing a weapon provides, I have the calming blanket of flooding endorphins to remind me that my wife is right. My wife is always right.