Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Sweet Perfume of Hoppe's No. 9

You ask, and I deliver:

I have always joked about dabbing a little of Hoppe's No. 9 solvent behind my ears. But seriously, I love the smell of it. That and the scent of primer after a shotgun round. To some it may reek of "violence" but to me it is the comforting smell of an afternoon of fun with my family.

I've never been hunting, but I love all kinds of target shooting. I don't go much these days, mostly because it's hard to do anything with little kids, let alone something that involves controlled explosions and potentially lethal projectiles. Obviously a sitter would be a necessity... But I still adore target shooting, even if I don't make a lot of time for it. For as long as I can remember guns have just been a natural part of life. An extremely safety-conscious, no nonsense, meticulous part, mind you, but a part nonetheless. My father grew up in a family of avid shooters. In fact, when my dad first introduced my mom to his family, they all went trap shooting. She thought it was so cool and has been a shooter too ever since. There are a lot of really cool historical guns in my family. I grew up thinking of guns as beautiful pieces of machinery, sporting equipment, or tools if you will. I think this mentality is particularly interesting given that I grew up in fairly metropolitan CALIFORNIA. There are some things I just adore about the Golden State, but one reason I'm glad I don't live there anymore is that they're such gun-haters. No love. Most women I know who enjoy shooting grew up in Podunk Nowhere, Montana or the like. But I'm just your run of the mill kid from the suburbs of San Francisco who loves to go to the shooting range.

Well, okay, I admit that sometimes we didn't go to a shooting range. The one thing that made me look forward to the painfully boring drive from Northern California to visit people in Utah was stopping in the middle of nowhere (so really anywhere in northern Nevada worked) and driving far enough away from the road on BLM land to shoot at aluminum cans. One of the praises my father has bestowed on me over the years that has stuck with me the most may in fact be when he told my grandfather upon our arrival in Utah that I was a regular Annie Oakley.

I remember when I was about 13 I'd guess and I got my first gun. My sister and I got a matching pair for Christmas, but I got a scope because I was older. It still leaves me in awe because I think it's so beautiful. Seriously, check out how sexy the stainless barrel is on that thing. I have such a weakness for stainless steel. You should have seen our wedding registry. You'd have thought our "color" was metal. Really, have you gone back and clicked on the link yet?

When M and I were first engaged, we drove to California to visit my parents at the end of the semester. My parents took us all to shoot sporting clays. (Think of golf with a shotgun. You can even drive a golf cart around to all the stations if you want. But the addition of explosions certainly seems to improve golf if you ask me.) I think this was an unspoken test of M. Would he fit in with my family and it's eccentricities?

M had been shooting before, but never a shotgun. Most of his practice at hitting moving targets came from video games, but there was no kick that way. So he was a little if not nervous, at least not really optimistic that he would do very well. He got his gun loaded and set himself up. He yelled, "Pull!" He totally smoked the clay. (For the benefit of those who do not frequent shooting ranges and are not familiar with this terminology, when you hit the flying clay disc dead on so that it shatters into countless tiny pieces and not just a couple chunks, the slang term is that you turned it into "smoke" or smoked it.)

M was so shocked that he hit the first clay that he missed the second one. He was shooting with a pump shotgun, so he forgot to pump in the next round as soon as he finished shooting his first round. The look of pleasant surprise on his face was so cute! After that pair was over, I looked at my dad. He had this look on his face that said, "Son, welcome to the family." At the end of the day, M even beat my dad's score (but not mine, mind you). M has fit in with my family almost seamlessly ever since.


the sister said...

Muscle Mike says that we are living proof that you can be a "gun-toting red-neck" no matter where you are from. Although I think we are far from "red-neck" with all the culture we get from cheeses and foods of the word and with the lack of farmland that you have in Silicon Valley, I think it is fun that we have yet another surprise, and an explosive one at that, for anyone who takes the time to get to know us.

Kristi said...

Did I really just read the words "adore" and "shooting" in the same sentence? :). We should go shooting together sometime, I'm game.

Sheyenne said...

Okay, I do not get the gun thing. At all. And I'm even from podunk Montana!
All I can think of when I see guns is dead deer carcass hanging in my garage, and 13 year old boys accidentally shooting themselves or their friends while showing off.
So I'll just take your word for it that it's great fun, just like I take Dario's word for it that golfing is great fun, yet still have no desire to even try it.

azufelt said...

I would definitely agree that shooting is more fun than golfing... Granted I've only shto clays once... and I was horrible at it. Think of horrible, and I was even a bit worse. I couldn't aim to gun at squat in the air (blame my poor eye sight) but I was just shooting all across the sky, I guess in hopes a bullet would stumble upon something -no dice.