I grew up with radio, not so much with TV. I don’t think mom and dad got their first set until I was seven; one year later we went to Germany and left it behind. For the next three years all we had was American military radio, which broadcast old serials and sitcoms from the 1940s, or Deutsche Rundfunk, which broadcast classical music. Most baby boomers my age grew up with Howdy Doody and I Love Lucy; I grew up with Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos and Andy, Our Miss Brooks, Inner Sanctum — and Beethoven (Wagner was still verboten).
It should come as no surprise, then, that I keep radios around the house and listen to them. In the garage, on the patio, next to the shower. And until a few years ago in our home office, where I listened as I worked at the PC. Then I started to blog. Now, though I still listen to the radio when I’m working in the garage or out back, I keep it turned off when I’m blogging. The comforting background murmur of NPR? When you’re trying to write, it’s distracting.
Why am I telling you this? Because Donna mentioned moving the office radio to her desk this morning. Which means she intends to listen to it. While I’m at the next desk over, trying to write. How am I going to explain this to her? Ah, maybe she’ll read this blog post.
Around 6:00 PM Tuesday, 30 minutes after Donna and Polly clocked out and drove home from the gun shop where they work, a 26-year-old man walked in, drew a pistol, and shot himself in the chest. The bullet missed his heart but severed his spine, and they say he was probably dead before he hit the floor. The gun store specializes in police supplies and I believe some cops were there when it happened; whether they were already there or got there immediately afterward, customers and staff were not allowed to leave the crime scene until 10:30 PM. Wednesday, Polly watched the store surveillance tapes with the other employees. She said the guy had been in earlier that day and had purchased a pistol — the same one he shot himself with later.
Around the beginning of the year Polly and I went to Tucson’s Marksman indoor firing range to do some target shooting. We spent an hour there, fired a hundred rounds from my two pistols, and had a great time. What’s so interesting about this suicide, at least to me, is what Polly learned from her co-workers yesterday — that people go to these indoor ranges to kill themselves all the time. Someone said that the range Polly and I visited in January has had two suicides so far this year. Someone at the store actually said, according to Polly, “I wish the son of a bitch had gone to Marksman to off himself.” I’m so glad Polly and Donna weren’t there when it happened.
Silly me, I thought there was a waiting period on gun purchases. I guess that’s one more restriction the Kenyan Muslim Usurper has gotten rid of as part of his secret United Nations Agenda 21 plot to disarm Americans.
Dreamed I was in back in uniform and enrolled in some sort of war college. The place was spread out on an old Army post — dorms here, classrooms there, parade fields, wooded areas. In the dream I went to classes like everyone else, but with a vague sense of disorientation and anxiety, as if I really wasn’t supposed to be there. It was the day before graduation and I was running around campus, turning in textbooks and manuals, settling dorm fees, getting travel orders, packing to leave. Suddenly I realized I hadn’t written the 500-page dissertation on NATO we all had to turn it. I’d forgotten all about it, hadn’t written a single word, had no idea what to say. Now I knew why my classmates didn’t go into town with me at night — while I was at the movies they were typing their papers.
It was my old college dream — probably yours too — the one where on the last day of the semester you remember an important class you signed up for but never attended, and you rush in and grab a seat in the back of the room and they’re all conversing in a language you’ve never heard and you wake up in a heart-pounding panic. Only updated.
I’ve had this same war college dream before, maybe three or four times now in the last few years. I have no idea what I’m anxious about. I hope I haven’t forgotten some vital life task! The dream is clearly trying to tell me something.
Donna and I are driving to California next week. I took the car into the shop today to make sure it’s in shape for the trip: battery, air conditioning, etc. With the price of gas — especially California gas — we’ll spend more driving than flying, but we can strap our bicycles to the back, take as much luggage as we want, keep our shoes on, and bring back boxes of wine. It’s worth it, and in any case we’ve always enjoyed long drives together. Shit, you can’t even count on sitting together on the airplane any more unless you’re willing to pay extra for a window or aisle seat — they’re charging extra now for every seat other than the middle ones. If I get my way, I’ll never fly again. I bet a lot of former frequent fliers are boycotting airline travel — I certainly can’t be the only one.
© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.