Salem has a new bar, and in its first week, I nearly got kicked out.
It was late and I had been exploring new tipples, but neither had much to do with the reprimand.
Friendliness, I’d say, is what I was most guilty of. When the girlfriend of the gentleman seated on the barstool next to me asked me to smell her wine, I obliged and agreed that it smelled a little funky. That logically opened a conversation about Vermont and then gun control.
“I know you’re type, and you don’t like me,” the card-carrying NRA member boyfriend told me.
I don’t know what type he thought I was because I answered each of his queries incorrectly.
Where are you from?
Missouri (not New England)
Have you ever shot a gun?
Yes (I think he was planning on “No, never, ever. Scary!”)
You think hunting is evil?
No (I in fact have no emotional attachment to Bambi, and indeed believe that if you want to eat meat you should be willing to kill for the privilege.)
Nevertheless, my interlocutor’s volume and intensity grew with each repartee.
In arguing, I find it very difficult to get too attached to any opinion. I’m more interested in the flaws, shortcomings, holes. The margins, boundaries, and gray areas where meaning is created.
How can you own a gun if you’re not willing to kill with it? I asked, when my interlocutor said he doesn’t hunt because he doesn’t like the idea of killing.
How many times has your house been broken into while in bed and you’re forced to defend yourself and your theoretical family? Has this happened to your friends or your friends friends? I asked. I further suggested that my laptop is worth a lot less than any living thing, myself, my family, or an intruder.
What really got me in trouble, though was when I suggested that the second amendment was about more than owning guns (certainly nothing to do with semi-automatic weapons) and while I didn’t have the answers I think it warranted some attention, especially if you felt strongly about it.
It is shocking to imagine that suggesting closer examination of our nation’s founding document in light of simplistic and derivative interpretations with far reaching consequences would incite a response so bombastic it required a managerial intervention. I can only hope he wasn’t in fact wearing the concealed weapon he had earlier referenced.
His girlfriend decided it was time to move on and he calmed down enough to introduce himself, and share his family’s story of emigration from Lebanon.
On his way out the door, he asked if I believed in “Allah” to which I don’t think there is ever a good answer. Nevertheless, my bartender responded that she believed in “glitter and unicorns” as she poured me another Lillet on the rocks.
I don’t know what he thought I was supposed to learn from him, but I’d like to think I helped spread the gospel of thoughtfulness and friendliness, glitter and unicorns.
That’s my type.