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!
About a year or two after Madison went off to college, Mark and I found that we had pretty much moved into a comfortable Sunday morning routine: I read the Dallas Morning News pretty much cover to cover, except for the Business and Sport sections. While, the latter mentioned sections are all Mark cares to scan. And then, when quickly done, he watches all the Fishing shows that he has accumulated throughout the week. The background noise on the fishing shows on Sunday mornings is so in-grained into this routine that when it is not there now, something feels out of place.
One Sunday morning stands out, because of a surprise knock down, drag out that occurred:
First let me say, Mark and I do get snippy with each other. Who doesn’t? However, after 30 years of marriage – for the most part we’ve pretty much settled down, grown up, given up or are just don’t have the energy to care passionately about the things we use to – so when a real fight happens with raised voices. Wow – it must have been rather serious.
The background on this spat: I’m a devout People Magazine reader and can’t wait for the magazine to show up in my mailbox every Friday. I’ve been reading it for years, which accounts for why I cannot answer basic trivia questions like, “Who was the president during the Civil War?”, but can tell you what shoes Duchess Kate was wearing while she delivered the future King of England, recently.
The answer: “The LK Bennet Sledge Shoe in color – Nude”… (Okay, don’t really know what Kate wore, but that is her go-to shoe for major events.)
Mark on the other hand reads B.A.S.S. Master, of course and the occasional AAOP Flight magazine. When he became an empty nester, he got his pilot’s license and his whole goal now while flying with me is to “not allow the bitch to come out” because of some surprising manevour he does that I am not anticipating (another story for another day).
On a recent Sunday morning, Mark came reeling into the breakfast area from the garage with a Pilot magazine rolled up and clutched in his hand yelling, “WHY is THIS in the recycling bin?!?!?!?!” Rather surprised, I answered, “Well, because I’ve seen that particular magazine sit on the coffee table for few weeks without being read. So, when I cleaned house this week, I tossed a few of those out and when this new one came in, I just tossed it, too. Why?”
“Do I ever throw your People Magazines away?!?!”
“Of course not, but you know I read them. I don’t’ see you reading yours!”
“Do me a favor, don’t throw away any more of my Pilot magazines without asking, okay?!?!”…
“Oh-Kaaay…” (insert eye roll here)
I finished my Sunday newspaper ritual, walked to the recycling bin in the garage to dispose of it and I’ll give you one guess as to what I found on the very top in the recycling bin?
You guessed it, My Own CURRENT issue of PEOPLE MAGAZINE! Hahahahahah! I couldn’t help but march into the living room with said People Magazine and laugh my butt off with Mark in a fake fight about it all at that point…
You gotta laugh… but don’t tell the judge….
First, I’d like to say that the title to this blog is absolutely, 100% true!!
Mark actually refuses to go to rehab with me because he feels, in his words – “too shy having me witness him go through his therapy while I go through my own”…
Okay, here is the deal:
Mark had a level 2 fusion of his lower spine a month ago. In layman terms, he had two artificial disks put in, with his own stem cells and they are fusing the disks together like in marriage, until death he does in-fact part. Not something you go into without seriously thinking it over. The benefits… The Risks… Do you want to be joined forever?…
He is undergoing physical therapy because of this and will be doing so for some time. I’m happy to report that he is thankfully doing better than ever. We are really glad he went through with it.
4 days after he got home from the hospital, he decided that “we” need to clean the pool. Now, we have a professional guy come out once a week to do this task, but he felt “we” needed to go out and take things into our own hands. 4 days after coming home from ICU, he could barely walk, get out of a chair much less clean a pool. So, the “we” meant – him sitting in the cabana with the ceiling fan going and the TV on, while I brushed the pool in the sweltering heat and got the areas that he noticed I was missing… I was surprised he could notice much at all with that much Vicodin going through his veins. My guess was that he really needed to feel like he was being productive, so I was determined to be patient and was just happy he felt like going outside.
30 mins before our professional Pool guy showed up and CAUGHT us in the act of doing HIS JOB, I missed a step while brushing the bottom of the pool and fell from the upper deck of our pool, to the lower deck. The force of hitting the pool step was so strong that it broke my sandal and sprained my foot, as I carreaned off the ledge; my knee then slid along the rock coping leaving a large apple sized contusion-slash-scrape on my knee; I then landed on my back shoulder with such force that pain pierced me immediately to the core and then finished off the “falling event” with a knot on the back of my head behind my ear. Thankfully, my head hit the grass and not the patio. All areas affected – were on the right side of my body.
Mark did not see the trauma event happen because he was watching TV, but he did hear it and came shuffling slowly over, asking me if I needed help. Now, he cannot pick up anything heavier than a gallon of milk for at least 6 weeks. The offer was sweet, but we both knew I was on my own. It was one of those falls in which you don’t get up right away. You check out extremities one at a time to make sure that they won’t go “compound fracture” on you if you stand up. I limped to the kitchen, got a large cold gel pack and another give away cold pack that said (ahem) “Botox” on it, limped back to the cabana and rested during which time the Pool Guy shows up.
Mark and I had considered letting him and his services go, as we felt we could do this on our own easy enough. But, now we embrace him and his services 100% and are so glad when we catch him in our backyard. Happily writing our monthly check to him putting a smiley face and a big “THANK YOU!” in the “memo” section.
2 weeks pass, I was resting my shoulder et.al., taking Advil, not doing my P90x2 and all was going well until I vacuumed the house this last Monday. My shoulder went back to square one so badly that Mark offered and I actually illegally and happily – took one of his Vicodin and made an appointment to see our family’s shoulder and knee Orthopedic surgeon, ASAP. Yes, our family has one. If you remember, we had 2 daughters in soccer for 15+ years???? I rushed to see him and he prescribed physical therapy and prescription strength nsaids.
I came home to tell Mark that thankfully there were no breaks. I had worried as I sheepishly came into the Orthopedist’s office that they would end up talking about “that late 40s female wack-a-do patient who came in with a combination neck and shoulder fracture 2 weeks post injury” during their next office meeting.
Anyway, I casually asked Mark when he had his PT scheduled and where, as I thought I’d just do my neck and shoulder rehab at the same time as he does his back PT. I thought maybe we could “bond over a mutual activity”, something that has helped throughout our marriage – a series of mutual activities that we can discuss, talk about, explore, because if we don’t – I end up reading book after book while he watches Rangers games and Fishing shows… Anyway, to my surprise Mark vehemently said “not only no but HELL NO!” When I asked (shocked) what the big deal was, he said he was too shy and didn’t want me to see him go through it all.
I could sort of see the masculine guy not wanting his wife seeing him labor through the pain, whereas ironically she was more than happy to demand he watch her very painful labor and deliver—— a story another blog. But, the truth is I bet he was thinking and 100% correct that as he was working with his own physical therapist, he would have a nagging wife clear across the PT room on a machine yelling at him to “stand up straighter – you are doing it wrong!!!!” Followed by comments at home of “I overheard your PT saying you should or shouldn’t be doing this.” LOL!!
And can’t say that I don’t blame him for putting up a boundary as it would in-fact maybe hurt our marriage for me to go there……
Not to worry, I myself am doing fine today. In fact, my sister Nadine is about to get here to squire me off to an area resort for spa and pool time, leaving Mark to fend for himself for a few days. I should be cleaning up but instead I am happily procrastinating on the computer doing this…
Mark and I made a date to go the Dallas Farmers Market this weekend to buy Summer vegetables to “Put up”. I’m going to have to Google a bunch of “how to(s)”… Supposedly they have a really good BBQ place there.