It’s Friday the 13th.
Not too concerning to me because I’m not very superstitious. That happens over time as you realize that you have bad luck all the days of the of year.
I take normal precautions on this day; stay away from black cats, don’t go to summer camps, and cross the street to avoid machete wielding men wearing white hockey masks. Common sense.
I try to read the luck signs every day. You know, the days where you wake up, stub your toe on the trampoline in your living room, leave the house wearing one navy blue flip-flop and one black one, or that time I fumbled the jar of pickles carrying things in from Sam’s and had a pickle juice scratch-and-sniff driveway for a while. Incidentally, that was the same day that I pushed my dog off a bridge and The Onion horoscopes predicted it was the month of bad luck with bridges for Libras everywhere. Some days, it is glaringly obvious that you need to just stay home, and I have them a lot.
In honor of the day of bad luck, I thought I would tell you about the time I thought I shot my mom, and didn’t touch a gun again for 20 years.
As some of you know, my Dad was a hunting enthusiast. That happens a lot to rural Texas men (and women); we like to own guns and kill things for sport. Not a stereotype if it is almost always true.
He tried to share this interest with me, and I appreciated the thought. I was his only daughter, and it wasn’t always his first inclination to treat me any differently than the boys, even though his views on women were quite Biblical.
He liked to shoot his guns off the back porch at targets in the evening while enjoying some cold Bud-Wiser. I had experienced the kick of one of the shot guns once, so I was already a little scared of shooting, but he really wanted me to get over my fears, and I really wanted him to love me.
He had an old .22 deer rifle. My oldest brother owns this gun today, and my niece shoots it all the time. It still scares the bejesus out of me. It really seems tiny and wimpy to me now, but I still carry it like it might go off on me at any second.
It had a trigger safety. For those of you that don’t know what that means, in order to put this gun on safety, you have to pull the hammer back with your fingers and pull the trigger a little so it will catch and stay in safety mode. My Dad was conducting gun safety training that evening, and I was a timid kid. I listened carefully to his instructions, but I had already decided that I couldn’t do it.
I told him as much, and I’ve learned over the years and advise others that the number one rule of avoiding my bad luck, is if I tell you that I am too scared to do something, just let me sit it out because something disastrous will always happen (there is a story about how I almost flipped a four-wheeler off a cliff with my brother’s best friend on the back in your future).
When I get nervous, my hands shake. I almost burned the MGM chapel in Vegas to the ground with a unity candle when my husband and I got married . Yes there is a video; I might even post it because it is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I had no idea I was that nervous about getting married again.
So my hands were shaking, and sweating, and I had that feeling that something bad was going to happen. I begged him not to make me try it, but he didn’t like my wimpyness.
“Just put it on safety, Rachelle. It’s okay. You can do it.” I took the gun awkwardly, pulled the hammer back with my seven-year old fingers, and pulled on the trigger like he told me to. Sure as shit, that gun went off because I pulled too hard and didn’t hold the hammer tight enough. I’m pretty sure I even had my head turned away and my eyes closed like a, well like a scared seven-year old girl holding a gun.
We were standing on cement when it went off. Of course it was pointed down like he told me, but the bullet went into the concrete sending shards of cement flying. One flew into my calf, and a bigger hunk flew at my Mom who was sitting nearby. Her hunk of cement hit her in the knee and we both started bleeding. And I started screaming. And crying. Full on hysteric mode because first I thought I had shot myself, but then I looked over at my mom’s bleeding leg, and genuinely thought that I had shot her. I shot my Mom…fantastic. Way to go, Rachelle.
She scooped me up and ran with me into the kitchen. I remember her holding my leg under the water, assuring me that she was fine, that I was fine, and to just calm down. I continued to wail, “I shot my Moooooom…” I can’t even imagine how she played off the fact that she was bleeding profusely to tend to what was a paper cut on my leg in comparison to the hunk taken out of her own. I mean, I can now that I have a daughter, but it still amazes me that she was able to react only to my need in that situation. She patched me up, and then I assume went into the other room to take care of her own pain and anger at the stupidity of the situation.
I have no idea why my Dad didn’t just take the bullets out of the gun when he saw how scared I was. Or, even if he didn’t sense the true extent of my fear, why he wouldn’t have let me learn that manuever on an un-loaded gun. This is the rational course of action in my mind today.
But it was the early 80s. In country time, it was probably still the early 70s, and I guess he was just more confident in my ability to not shoot myself and others than I was.
I had a very deep desire to impress my Dad, and that over-powered my ability to say no to something I was uncomfortable with, but the gun thing was not up for discussion after this. I didn’t touch another one until I was 27. I flat-out refused and it annoyed him that I wouldn’t get back on the horse, but I did not care.
My oldest brother has tried to help me overcome the fear recently. I shot a pistol and even shot this very same .22 again, but I’m not sure I will ever be truly comfortable with guns unless I work really hard at it. I’ll probably never be a great marksman or a hunter–it just seems too late in life to pick this up as a woman, and I’m not crazy about the whole cleaning your kill thing. I have watched my Dad field dress a deer and helped him process the meat at home, and it is really quite disgusting and tedious for a small payout of back strap venison, jerky or Bambi burgers.
The lesson, if there is one, is gun safety is important, as is a child’s readiness developmentally to try something like this.
But it is also that our fears can create these types of situations. I’m highly skilled at imagining the worst case scenario, and then my fear and timidness create a situation where I’m ignoring my own misgivings and firing a loaded gun into cement to try to gain someone’s approval. The object then becomes, not to avoid the situation, but to be aware of my tendency to do this in just about everything in my life and adjust my fears and my willingness to say no accordingly.
So, I’m sorry I almost shot you Mom. I love you!
Thoughts, reactions, gun safety, Friday the 13th, or other bad luck stories?