“You should get a gun,” I said. “You should get a gun and take shooting lessons so you’re really, really good at it.”
Where was I? Not at a shooting range, that’s for sure. No, I was waiting for my yoga class to begin. I was talking to the young woman next to me, whom I’d never seen before.
She’d told me she and her new husband lived out in the country. That’s when the alarm bells went off.
I mean, you see peace and tranquility in the country and I see the Blair Witch Project. You see cows and horses and I see lethal rattlesnakes ready to strike. You see friendly, down-to-earth farmers and homespun families and I see the two murderers (Perry and Dick?) from In Cold Blood. Who cares if it’s so dark at night in the country that you can really, really see Orion and the Big Dipper if somebody’s brutally attacked you and you’re hemorrhaging to death on a cactus?
Anyway, the young woman I was talking to was already a little nervous. Her husband travels a lot, leaving her at home by herself out in the country, where anything can happen and often does. Where you can scream and no one hears you. I nodded sympathetically, thinking about the Coen Brothers and No Country for Old Men.
Sometimes, she said, when she drives to their acreage and a car is behind her, she doesn’t turn into their driveway. Instead, she travels farther up the road and makes a U-turn to throw “them” off her trail. Then she turns around and comes back.
That’s when I told her about the gun idea. Sure, I know nothing about guns. I wouldn’t know an AK-47 if you tickled me under the chin with it. But I grew up in the 1950s and saw lots of Westerns and can tell you the name of Dale Evans’ horse and I’m pretty sure that counts for something. Besides, if I had to be an expert before I opened my mouth, I might as well take up a career as a mime.
“If I were out in the country by myself,” I told her. “I’d definitely have a gun.”
Sometimes, she talks her brother into staying with her, she told me. Other times, she’s left by herself.
A gun, I repeated. Shooting lessons. Sign up now. Before it’s too late.
By this time, our class was filing into the yoga room. I don’t think anybody was surprised to hear me mouthing off about a gun and shooting lessons and trying to boss around a total stranger. Only a few weeks before, my friend Janis and I had almost gotten into a screaming match about the Clintons on the front row of the class. Peace of mind is elusive, even here.
We did our yoga, we glided through the asanas, we collapsed on our mats. At the end of the class, I could see the young woman leaving. I could have followed her to offer some more heartfelt, unsolicited advice about her life. But why did I have the feeling she might make a U-turn and take evasive action, that I might have become one of the “them” she was trying to avoid?
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)