I have had the most terrible dreams all holiday; all people I love turning against me and disowning me and declaring me a traitor and trying to kill me, although there have been assorted horrible monsters thrown into the mix as well. This happens every time I am all caught up on my sleep. (I wonder if it has anything to do with my insane levels of jumpiness?) Anyway, they were worse than usual last night, and I woke up very disorientated, only to have the Bossman – who had got up before me, that’s how groggy I was – immediately inform me that the real Shamu had died in 1971.
I felt even more crappy after that.
But we went out to a different IHOP for breakfast; where a large and stately waitress of colour spent the whole meal dissing my ability to store food in ma belly, and then came over at the end and listed meals while I was dying of near-explosion. With an evil gleam in her eye that suggested she knew full well what she was doing; so we gave her a bloody great tip, mainly out of respect. It ain’t easy having (what I would hate as a) job, and still managing to give cheek in a way that cannot be reasonably complained about to one’s manager. (Or maybe she was making friends with me, who knows?) Anyway, this was way more cheering than the Bossman’s continued exposition on Shamus; namely that their favourite hobby is dragging their trainers down to the bottom of the pond and keeping them there till they stop moving.
Is this some sort of Thing, like where dolphins and elephants and cows don’t realise you are squishier than they are? I asked hopefully.
Apparently not. Which means the Shamus are not happy at all with their lives, and I just helped add to their slavery. Oh woe, oh barf.
They can’t go live in the wild though, said the Bossman as if this was somehow helpful. They’ll die in ten minutes because they’re too crap now.
Today is the shittiest day in the world ever, and will continue to remain so until the next big revelation of how much my species sucks even more than I thought possible.
Or so I thought until it was time to go to today’s event, for which the Bossman has paid a horrible amount of his personal funds for, just so I will enjoy it. And was obviously not looking forward to it himself. So no pressure there then. For we were off to a gun range to shoot a variety of weapons at targets for two hours; something I had been drooling over the prospect of ever since I discovered it existed.
How did I feel? I will let these pie-charts explain.
And of that:
Well, we arrived, and I was not underclad, mostly, which was something. Truthfully, I had been planning to go as a complete bimbo (and flip my hair a lot) until I realised that a) there will be much recoil and heat, which may potentially melt the bimbo frock to my skin, for all I know, and b) chances are, there will be someone there dressed like that just because he/ she likes it, and they will be fantastic at shooting.
So in the end I just wore something revealing and mildly redneck, eh.
The place was heavily air-conditioned and looked very professional, which was something. Also, I did not puke from nerves in their foyer, which also is something. They made us sign many forms; unfortunately, one said I swore I was not suffering any mental health problems of which I knew, and especially ones for which I was on meds (so did the ESTA, cough), and the other said I swore I had not thought of using any of the guns we would be handling today to kill myself or anyone else.
Well not until that, no.
I assumed that was the ‘quick! do not think of pink elephants’ question and signed it all off. And we got taken with a toolbox to a small coffee area, where Chad, who is American and looks Asian, showed us a range of handguns, including their loading and deloading, at lightning speed, told us to put our eye and ear-protectors on, and we were off. To a place with those genuine partitions between the booths, and those laundry-like lines that run the targets back and forth, and everything. It was just like the movies!
First off, the .38.
Now, I hadn’t really, despite the movies, and despite having handled (very small, UK-safe guns, which is to say, .22 rimshot rifles, the occasional clay-shooting shotgun and the air-pistol) realised how bloody tiny the .38 revolver is. I could fit one between my cupped hands; while you could see it between my fingers, it would still be contained within them, much like a large and deadly spider. The thought that this tiny little fucker could somehow totally kill someone if I messed up was nauseating to me in a way that using a big ole .22 is not. I mean, you could fit one in your purse – and then if the safety got snagged on something, you could blow a hole in… anyone, including yourself, while trying to pay the cheque in a restaurant.
So I was pretty nervous of this bastard, and my hands shook like anything. Also it was furiously loud, kicked like a mule, the web between my left thumb and forefinger started to swell from the recoil immediately, and I realised I hated the git. And I had forty-nine bullets to go, woo.
The revolving chamber got hot enough, after the first five, to make it uncomfortable to reload. Earlier in my life, I would have done whatever it took to get the bastard open, cursing myself and all around me all the while, and taking the pain on the chin for it is What One Is Meant To Do, while also fearing to look weak and feeble. Mind you, earlier in my life, I would have gone on every single rollercoaster, no matter how much I hated and feared them, and how little anyone with me wanted to go on them; because that proved I was Something, dammit.
These days, though I still fear and suspect I am a coward at heart and would dearly like Not to be, I suspect that that sort of behaviour proved that I was a Teenager with Something to Prove (dammit), so I was all, screw it. Chad, would you mind? On account of not wanting to go through the rest of my holiday with burned fingertips (I burned the skin off them once before, while cementing, and three days of not being able to touch anything, including one’s own skin or clothes, is enough, thanks).
Also, it should be noted that I can’t make a souffle either, just for instance; although for some reason being able to reload a gun seems held in much higher esteem. I’m still not sure why, when you get right down to it, because technically being able to kill an enemy with a bladed weapon, up close, is surely way cooler and more chivalrous; and if that doesn’t count, why not just stab ’em in the throat while they’re asleep?
I should confess here: I try to avoid them, but every so often my curiosity gets the better of me, or someone showcases, websites out there where these strange guys are outright gloating about the ‘forthcoming end of civilisation’, when ‘women will have to flock to them now, or be raped and killed by (even) worse men’; and I think, But what if we formed a female collective to protect ourselves? Because this sounds almost like some sort of Desert Island Discs form of protection racket (where someone else is the bad guy, obviously. The good guy isn’t going to threaten you with rape and murder, good god no! He’s just going to make sure you understand this is what will happen to you if you aren’t nice to him! Although obviously, your just deserts will totally not be his fault!) So… they sound like people I would not trust to ‘protect’ me or anyone I care about in a million years, and I find the mindset where one is apparently looking forward to the misery (and death?) of millions in order to extort ‘devotion’ very strange indeed.
Then I remember that I am looking down a barrel at the ‘wrong’ end of forty and will probably have to fend for myself, come the day (hopeflee! – although I strongly consider getting a facial scar, just to be on the safe side).
Then I remember what people have been prone to try and do to me even though I was a rather plain teenager with no visible scars at all, and the end of civilisation was nowhere in sight at that point, and feel really shit about my inability to reload a .38, just for instance; sod the souffles. I guess that merely makes me as scared and pathetic as everyone else – for a given value of everyone – as long as the addendum that I hope to god to be the sort of person who dies in defence of others rather than seeing it as an excuse to be an unmitigated pathogen makes some sort of difference, come the time.
Anyway. These are either the sort of thoughts one should not, or one absolutely should, be having in a gun range, what.
After that was over, and I was shaking like a leaf and wondering if all my carpal bones were still unbroken, we had some special ammo. This stuff was agony to use, and I was not sorry when it was over. I was also massively terrified of being so terrified I accidentally forgot to keep my finger off the trigger or something and shot someone in the leg. Recursiveness, there is no end to it!
Then we had the 9mm.
I didn’t trust this bugger either, frankly; again, far too short, and looking far too prone to twisting itself round and shooting somewhere I did not intend it to go (over my shoulder, for instance). And the ammo was difficult to get into the magazine, since my hands were shaking so bad (with adrenalin. Okay, nerves. I had given in to the fact that I suck; meanwhile the Bossman was doing a way better job next door, despite having never fired a gun in his life, I just wanted to get this over with and slink out the door).
The 9mm didn’t like me much either. Thank the powers that be, it didn’t kick nearly as much, because my left hand now had a swelling the size of a plum, but my distrust remained for the first sixty rounds. It was only after that I got used to it and started to actually concentrate fire on the centre of the target. By which time, the Bossman had metamorphosed into Robocop, and was patiently taking out a circle around the centre, after which he had to start on headshots because his target had no guts. I was at least gratified to see that Chad, too, was astounded.
Then it was time to go next door and try the AR15, civilian counterpart to the M16. Shite.
I was about ready to jack it all in at this point, but the Bossman had laid down much mullah for me to experience this, and he was clearly having the most brilliant time on earth, praise jeebus, so it was not the time for me to be all mopey.
The AR15 was a nice surprise. A very nice surprise. Easy to load, user-friendly, fitted snugly against my shoulder and off we went. I liked him from the start, and he seemed to like me too, because Chad came over and was all, Okay, you guys get on! I’m not saying I was amazingly accurate, but it was the first time all afternoon that I got into the zone and it was just me and the gun and the reloading and the target and the stink of cordite and I was happy as a clam. Granted, it probably helps that I have more experience with rifles (though not that much) but I didn’t feel at any point that he might twist around and betray me, and he gave a real solid performance. The Bossman’s rifle, by contrast, jammed all the damn time – like the 9mm had done to me, but not once to him in a hundred rounds – and I started to suspect that it is just a case of who you get on with.
The solid-bore shotgun, on the other hand, scared me immensely, I shot wild and high and I was quite content to let the Bossman have the other nine rounds. With which he was fantastically competent, the bastard.
The good news is that he really enjoyed himself, which he quite obviously wasn’t expecting to. And Chad was obviously impressed with his performance (and told us he grew up on a Spanish ranch in Wyoming; see this is the great thing about America, you cannot tell anything about anyone’s heritage or life from how they look, it’s all mixed about). The Bossman has decided he loves the 9mm (and why wouldn’t he, it loved him) but allowed that I was (marginally) better with the rifle. Ah well. Can’t be the best at everything.
50 shots, .38 revolver, 6 shots .44 revolver, 20 ft
100 shots, 9mm, 20 ft
60 shots, AR15 .223, 40 ft
(Dammit, somewhere, there is something I am excellent at, however!)
On the bright side, at least we were spared using the .44, so I still have my wrists (which I need to survive, as a typist). And at least I was spared the embarrassment of saying that unto the Bossman until we were outside, so at least there was nobody around when he told me that we had used the .44 – that was the special ammo. ‘And indeed, you were using a .44 that whole time, technically!’ he added.
Anyway, that night we went out for steak dinner to celebrate having fired lots of big, manly guns, (the Bossman bucked this trend by having the veggie option) and on the way home, as we were passing GatorLand Golf, I got to wrestle Harry the Gator.
Do not worry! Said Harry’s handler. This does not hurt Harry, it is how he pays his vet bills for his extended lifespan! In fact sit on him as hard as you want, if you don’t hold his head up, he is perfectly capable of walking off with you on his back!
So I sat on Harry and pretended to be Well ‘Ard while I reflected that Harry’s life still seems more dignified than poor Lester the ‘Retired’ Dolphin’s. Damn, I am awesome (or at least, I can occasionally fake it for the camera).