THIS MORNING I WAS SITTING and sipping my coffee after services at St. Arbucks with a collection of The Usual Suspects. The topics of conversation ranged from old TV shows to local politics, to the condition of the streets in San Francisco. Why they care, I don’t know and my info on that particular topic is at least 13 years old. But that doesn’t really matter to them I think.
And then I made a mistake.
I asked one of The Suspects, “What’s new in the wide world of firearms?”
Given the fact that this fellow is a retired Marine who has, shall we say, a gun collection. He is the person to ask about things like that. Other people might call his collection “Large enough to tip the balance of power in Central Asia.” I’ll just say it is a large collection – really large
His response to my question surprised me.
“What’s new? I don’t know. I know more about older weapons.”
Then another Suspect jumped in, asking, “What is the oldest gun you have?”
This was not a good thing to do. I had the feeling that I was going to be having lunch there.
“My oldest weapon? Why, I have a flintlock rifle from the 1800s. It was made in Italy.”
Now, I’m certainly no expert on firearms, but I don’t think that flintlocks were in active use by then. Maybe in Italy. I didn’t know for sure, but I was afraid to ask our expert.
Knowing that there was no way in Heaven that his answer about the Italian rifle was going to settle the issue – I braced myself.
“Let me tell you about that rifle…”
I knew it. I just knew it. This was going to take a while. Call home and tell your loved ones that you’ll be late.
The next five minutes were filled with a detailed account of his trouble changing the flint in this antique rifle. At least that’s what I think he described. It was hard to tell. He was using a jargon that was new to me and my brain was trying to save itself by doing the cerebral equivalent of holding its breath.
When he finished his story about the Italian flintlock rifle I knew nothing more about that weapon than when he’d started. He might as well have been speaking in Lithuanian.
I’m just grateful that things like that don’t happen very often. I don’t want to make Mr. Arsenal feel bad or unappreciated. I like him and, let’s be honest, if things go South and the Society crumbles like a stale cookie, I want to know someone like him. And I want him to like me.
I know that I have a propensity to be a bit of a smartass. I also know that, if I’m not careful, I can be a truly verbally offensive person. I don’t mean to be like that – it just happens. So, I try to watch myself. I don’t want to upset the people around me. Some of them are younger than me. Some of them are bigger than me, and some of them are considerably better armed than me.