Mark had been talking about getting an AR-15 for several years. Hunters use them to stalk feral hogs at their deer leases, farms, ranches, etc. Turns out, feral hogs are actually domesticated hogs that were just let go in the wild and boy do they multiply like rabbits and wreak havoc on people’s land. They root up crops and roads and are a serious problem here in Texas. Well, Mark didn’t want just any AR-15, he wanted his BFF Don to build one for him as Don had started a hobby of making guns. (BTW: I have a feeling it is against “man law” for guys to refer to each other as BFFs, especially these two which is why I put that in here.) 🙂
As a surprise for Mark, I emailed Don to ask if he would have the time and possibly be interested in building one for me for a Christmas present for Mark. He quickly replied, “Sure! All you need to do is go to a gun store near you called Cheaper Than Dirt and purchase a ‘stripped lower’ for it. Ship it to me and I’ll get started.” I wrote the part name down on my weekly shopping list: Fall Wreath, New Bed Sheets, Black Platform Peep Toe Shoes, “Don’t forget to get a S-T-R-I-P-P-E-D L-O-W-E-R” – Check.
There is a reason for this following part, so work with me here:
I usually like to save my serious shopping days for one particular day of the week. I’m not talking grocery shopping but the kind of shopping you do for Christmas, party planning, special projects, clothes and the like. I like to get dressed up and “go to town”. It feels good to do this because being a housewife now, I will actually go days without even putting on shoes much less make-up, so it is a healthy thing for me to do. On this particular day, I paired fun grey denim leggings, with a sexy off one shoulder ala Flashdance, pale-geometric print shirt. I completed the outfit with pretty, high-heeled black ankle boots and my black Prada bag.
I went about my shopping day from Michaels to Bed, Bath and Beyond, to you name it and ended the day, as planned at Cheaper than Dirt. It’s a much smaller store than say a Cabelas or a Bass Pro Shop. It is more the size of a small pawn shop. Now, I’m sure it wasn’t completely like this… but this is actually how I felt — As I walked in, I did not see any hunting gear, etc. as I’m used to seeing when accompanying Mark to gun stores. What I found was a bunch of men who looked like they were involved in militia/biker groups and one guy who looked like he was employed in personal security and/or maybe the mafia. Not one of them was wearing cammo.
The surprise must have shown on my face, because the store manager came up to me with a raised eyebrow and in an are sure you’re in the right place type voice said, “Can I help you?” I said, “Yes. Give me a sec.” (as I fished through my Prada bag for my shopping notes finding and reading the note to him) “Yes, I’m here to purchase a stripped lower for an AR-15?” His eyes immediately shot up in surprise and he said “Oh-kay then, follow me.” We passed a customer looking at what looked like a SWAT team vest, and another seriously contemplating Bowie knives while carrying a gas mask and turned down a random non-descript aisle. In the center of this aisle, passed all the pre-packaged doomsday survivor food, we came up to a locked glass case. I seriously did not recognize anything in it. When Don said I needed to go get this gun part, I thought, I don’t know – I really didn’t think… but I guess I would have thought it looked like a gun that needed finishing – whatever that means.
Anyway, the manager opens the case and gets out the part and says, “This, is it.” It looked like a random extra part you’d find yourself left with after taking apart your own car engine and putting it back together again. He does not hand me the part but says, “You know, you will need a background check for this?” I laughed a silly Ha-ha laugh as if I knew he was surely joking. He replied without smiling, “I’m being totally serious.” I couldn’t believe it! I told him, the guy looking at Bowie knives looked like he’d need a background check sooner than I would for this little random God knows what part for a friend to build my husband a surprise present. His reply, “Well, you see – this actually is the firing chamber of the gun.” Okay – learning something new today…
Well, I thought it would be an in-and-out type store purchase and was not planning to spend an hour or so filling out paperwork, so I looked at my over-sized Men’s sparkle watch with the faux diamond ring around it and asked him how long it would take. He said, “Well it shouldn’t take very long or be a problem (pause) unless – you have a record?” I told him “Of course not!” He then paused and said “I don’t know how to ask this but do you know if your gun-building-friend has a felony record? Because, it would be a felony for you, yourself to supply him this part if he does.”
“What?!” Now, I’ve known Don for 30 years. He is the salt of the earth, church goin’, God fearing, great guy and I was pretty sure he had no record, but for a minute or so I got to dialoging the following to myself. “Hm. Why didn’t Don just get the part himself? What if h…… Naaaaaw, he’s fine…… Well, he is into building guns now for fun and most certainly part of some government watch lis……. Naaawh, he just likes to hunt big time – Don’t be crazy, D’Ann….…” So, after this hesitation, I told the guy I’m pretty sure he’s fine, let’s fill out that application. As he took the signed application from me, he said, “You can just walk around and shop while I call into the State.” I looked around the store and then at him and said, “What do you seriously think I’d shop for?!” – He laughed at me and told me I could just stand by him – it would be okay.
Well of course, I was cleared and went to grab the part off the desk. He stopped me short and said he actually had to walk me up to the front to the cashier. Now, the guy working the cashier’s desk was this HUGE, tall black guy. I’m not saying huge as in fat, but the don’t mess with me; I’m a bodyguard type guy build. The manager placed the stripped lower on the counter and said, “This lady would like to buy this, please.” The cashier looks at the part, looks up at me and without a smile and a raised eyebrows asks, “You? Building a gun today?” I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Why yes, I am. I was at Michael’s and I bought a few things to make a Fall wreath for my front door and just thought I’d go ahead and purchase some faux beads, jewels and a hot glue gun. I want to surprise my husband and not only make, but also bedazzle an AR-15 for him for Christmas.” He/we all laughed our butts off at this point. I’m sure when I left that store; all the guys in there were all rolling their eyes and thinking “’em G-Damn yuppie women…”
I could not wait to get in my car and on my cell phone, so I could read Don the riot act for not warning me about any of this and laugh about it… I also couldn’t wait to give Mark the gun, so I could tell him the crazy story of what I had to go through to get this gun made for him. I might just hot glue a little pink jewel on it someday when he’s not looking just to finish it off and put my own unique mark on it…
The funny thing in hindsight is that I’m now probably on some list as owning an assault rifle and I haven’t shot a gun in years!