Mar 4, 2012

Make my day

Ever stared down the barrel of a gun? Like when you can make Clint Eastwood's day? I haven't, but already in my second month in this land of limitless promise and gun lobbyists (not in the least the late great NRA chairman Omega Man a.k.a. Ben Hur a.k.a. Moses) I did have a gun encounter. Location: Atlanta. Also involved: a glam redneck, ass-whooping pickup truck like they only have in Georgia. The gun was shown to me, innocent alien immigrant motorist happening to be waiting for a traffic light next to this metallic fiery red Ford truck, as an indicator signal. In other words, the guy wanted to merge onto my lane, and rather than using his no doubt flashy indicator light, he just nodded vaguely to some empty piece of road in front on me, picked up a handgun that would have made Clint's day for sure, and held it up for 2 seconds for me to see before stacking it on top of his dash and out of my sight.
To understand the South, I thought it was good to start with understanding the Georgia gun laws. So my gun encounter was perfectly lawful - one does not even need a license or registration to "transport a loaded firearm in a private motor vehicle, provided it is carried in an open manner fully exposed to view, or is in the vehicle's glove compartment, console, or similar compartment". In other words, please keep it close by and loaded (!). And even more astounding, the city of Kennesaw in the northwestern suburbs of Atlanta earned the nickname "USA Guntown" when it unanimously passed a law in 1982 requiring every head of household to maintain a firearm together with ammunition. Working in an office only 2 miles from the Kennesaw city limits, this immigrant alien started asking for his co-workers' opinion of this law. You'd be surprised to hear some of the answers, but suffice it to say it's no surprise that this is Newt Gingrich's neck of the woods.

Growing up and watching movies like Dirty Harry and TV shows like Hill Street Blues, Starsky and Hutch, Miami Vice, I got a certain impression of the U.S. and its attitude towards guns. My hope that this was only fictional and dramatized for the big screen had already been shattered by watching the daily local news in my first month here. But I must admit that this gun encounter enlightened me, and it got engraved in some neurons stacked away deep in my brain for six years. Until yesterday that is, when I was putting the finishing touches on my very first beading project. I started beading a gun at last year's Kate&Dustin Beading Summit in Tucson, a plastic gun that I picked up at the local Party City on Tucson's Broadway. The idea behind beading a gun was to contrast the blunt aggression and ugliness of a weapon with the innocent beauty and glamour of shiny beads. Yesterday I was selecting a color for the inside of the barrel, and picked metallic fiery red. A color of love, but now that I think of it - also the exact same color of the Georgia pickup truck that welcomed me to this land of intriguing contrast. It makes my day.......

So even though the local daily news still is horrific, and the race for the Republican presidential candidate is mind-boggling, I do believe in the good of mankind

GABROEN on behalf of Jeroen


  1. What a great story, Jeroen! Gosh, who needs that noisy turn signal?! Ha ha!

    I would love to see the rest of the gun. The barrel looks fantastic.

    Ellen S.

  2. Jeroen--That's a fine piece of writing. I felt as if I were there with you, at that red light with the redneck in his red truck. A vague nod, indeed. The whole thing is/was frightening to say the least.

    It is precisely that kind of experience that makes this resident American want to plan her exodus as an ex pat. I feel like I need to apologize to you for being part of a culture that really is how you saw it on TV and in the movies, for shattering an illusion.

    That said, the beading is tremendous and your intent sterling.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Doriot.

      I can certainly visualize you in the scene, in a dress of the exact same color as the truck, tossing a crow bar :)