Travel anywhere in the world and you’ll find that people expect Americans to love three things – baseball, beer, and guns. And not necessarily in that order. In the wake of another brutal shooting in Florida where at least seventeen people were shot dead by suspect Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school, teenager, and, most troubling of all, legal owner of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Just so you have this straight in your head, please take a moment to picture not a handgun that some banger holds in the palm of his hand and sticks in his waistband while he sells nose candy on the streets of LA. It’s a bloody massive firearm not all that different from the size of your leg into which you can easily slot thirty-round magazines and empty them through the muzzle nearly as quickly. It is, in short, a very efficient way to kill.
I like to think of myself as outwardly accepting of others, regardless of my thoughts and feelings on their behaviors, beliefs, and beings. But there are three things that truly dishearten me about humans, myself included, I hasten to add and they’ve slotted themselves nicely into the unique-little-snowflake culture that has engulfed us millennials. They call themselves, in the style of a generation raised on spasmodic adspeak “body positive,” “you do you,” and “intellectual differences.” I’ve talked about the second and third before and intend to do so again in the near future but, for now, I’m going to focus on the first one.
There is a certain circularity to these things. They bite you in the ass just as you’re wrestling the tail into the ground, so to speak. I recently had opportunity to be asked if I was a Muslim. Perhaps a little background would be helpful. I frequently comment and post in a left-wing feminist online group on Facebook – at times weekly, at times a dozen or more times a week, depending on the topics that come up and, often, how far afield the discussion has strayed into territories that touch on my areas of expertise and show no signs of understanding that feel like they need a little direction to help along without everyone getting confused. That, of course, is where this began.
Birth happened. That's all I can say about it reliably. I know nothing else. It wasn’t until almost 10 minutes later that I realized that I wasn't in a hospital. It was either the pain or the joy. I hope it was the joy. It was the pain. I was told once that nothing hurts more than a paper cut. If I could invite the person who shared that insight with me to give birth to a four-pound child surrounded by the comfort of a newly-vacated first-class lounger on a transatlantic redeye, without the benefit of either doctor or medication, I would do so. I shall leave it at that, however.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Time, in fact, stood still for her, peering longingly into the water as it circled the drain. It was her custom to step out of the bath and be dry by the time the water had finally gurgled into the arcane pipework, but she felt stunned to the point of inaction. Time not only stood still but stopped her from standing at all. It was, after all, bedtime and darkness had fallen on the small cottage as water poured hot and steaming from the antediluvian faucet, moistening porcelain and warming the cold room as bubbles and salts mixed with steam and caused apple blossoms to fill the December night as it would be in September. Plunging up to her neck in the water, splashing the floor without even noticing, holding her breath and her head under the water until it would appear to an observer that she was testing the limits of her lungs' capacity to spontaneously cease respiration. She was typically calm. It was different this time. Calm had not given way to mania, happiness, relief, or even their sad counterparts. This was shock. Carla sat rigid watching the clock on the wall simply say seven minutes past eight, morning or evening making no difference, realizing only after minutes' contemplation that the clock itself had no power to move and was stuck, much like Carla herself. It was that morning that Gin had left her. Left in the conclusive sense, that is, not in the leaving for work as they had done every day since their wedding. When Carla awoke, Gin was already dressed, sitting on the end of the bed, suitcase at her feet.
They tell me that war changes men, makes them wild. That's only the weak ones, though. He was sad when it was unavoidable, happy when it was ended. A lifetime of harsh realities, defeated by laughter. Memories depart quickly, but I always feel at home there.