Friday, January 20, 2012

Time To Get a Gun

Not literally, just that the song has been stuck in my head since I took this picture.

When I was growing up, this storefront served as both a glimpse into a parallel universe and a whispered suggestion of the nation beyond. I knew that outside of the New York metro area, people were into guns. But they, like people who joined the military or knew how to pronounce Oregon properly or voted Republican for non-economic reasons, were pretty much mythological. You might as well have told me that Nebraska was full of griffins, and chimeras had been spotted in Ohio. So to see a glimpse of that unsettling and exotic world from the Post Road was fascinating. (Well, fascinating may be too strong of a word, but there really weren't too many things in the Fairfield County bubble worth pointing out the car window and saying "Ooh look!" about, so we took what we could get.) And a glimpse was literally all you got of this place, as you drove beneath the underpass from Fairfield into Westport. You could see the road where you imagined it would be, but when you tried to get there, you were stymied by a one way street and general confusion. And then, because it was a) just a store after all and b) a potentially scary one at that, you gave up.

But then - after years spent living and traveling in places where guns and gun stores (the kind without pretty fonts) were the norm - I happened to be driving past and caught that glimpse again and recalled that feeling of interest and fear. I remembered wondering about that mysteriously inaccessible building, and how every time we went by I'd question whether they really sold guns - which seemed a little shocking, like something you wouldn't advertise so openly, because what would people think - or if they sold something else, but kept those letters out front for their Western vintage feel. Since the Internet had been invented in the interim, I could now find out how to get there in about five seconds. (Kids today, they don't even know. If I had a lawn...)

And so I drove over and it was just a store, two stores in fact. And yes the upstairs one sells guns, obviously, though I didn't go in. It was never about going in, of course. It was about diffusing the mystery, about finding that what was large and scary has become, with the passage of time, normal-sized and mundane. And affirming that the wide world is full of places so much more interesting than the places of your youth, just as you always hoped.

And I still like the sign.

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