December 03, 2010

Necessary Needs

I don't think any of us here can say we've never bought anything "used". I'm sure, as well, most of us have done so at least once with regret.

My first used vehicle as an adult, was a used truck. I already had a small car bought new, but I wanted something to head up in the hills for camping. I didn't want new and pretty, I wanted broken in and cheap. There was an ad in the California newspaper for a Toyota Truck, 120,000 miles but in good shape, for $3500. There was ust a name and a phone number. I was hesitant to go alone. having a mental picture of some truck seller sitting in the shop at his house wearing garments made out of the skin of the last 3 people that answered his ad.

So I took my partner at work. He's tall, he's imposing looking. Firearm or not, he'd keep me from being made into a vest,

When we showed up, the truck was in the driveway. Clean as a whistle, camping shell COVERED in Grateful Dead stickers. The seller was a "deadhead".

I could almost picture how this was going to go. . .

The fellow came out, long hair, clean clothes, and as nice as good be. I asked him if he'd come down $500 to $3000 and he said "well, no, you see I had this drug deal go bad and I need the bucks".

My partner is trying not to smile. I'm picturing all the marijuana seeds that are probably in the carpet of this thing, but it's really in good shape and I had $3000.

Suddenly the guy REALLY looks at us. Let's see, clean cut, toned arms, white starched shirts, blue pants, dark sunglasses (that fashion sense that just screams Academy) and gets this sort of panicked look on his face.

"uh. . oh, .are you guys. . COPS?

"Mister", I said. "I'm just a nice gal looking for a cheap truck".

I got it for $3000. No seeds, it ran like a top and with the stickers on there, I'd get lots of waves from people who looked like the name on their birth certificate really was "Flower" or "Moonbeam".

There were 300,000 miles on it when I finally sold it, still running, still reliable. Best decision I ever made, to purchase that thing, stickers and all.

I've also had some not so good used purchases. The chain saw which made a better door stop, and a used riding mower that liked to fling out its muffler like that whale jumping in that movie. (fly free!!!!)

But there are treasures to be found if you look closely and more so if you look past the shiny new carton, and the fancy sales pitch. Not every one can. I had a guy I'd met once cancel our date when he found out I'd been married. He said "I don't want used". I prefer to think of myself as "pre owned".

We place so much value on the obvious, not seeing past that slight ding or scratch, that may be the best pistol you ever owned. We place too great of value on shiny fresh looks and a catchy marketing slogan until too late, we realize we elected a spokesmodel, not a leader.

Sometimes though, we look deep, look past a little dust, a couple of scars, and start an adventure. It's that giving over to our gut feeling as to the validity of something or someone, that often reaps the most reward. Look in your gun safe. Is what you treasure the newest or the shiniest? That which you prize the most may be that firearm for which the number of deer that had fallen before it were legion,. Your most treasured possession, a weapon in which you knew that the fierce heat of its holding, there in the blaze of a new autumn, would renew you better than that plastic fake camo looking one.

Look to your friends, are the ones you trust with your life, likely to be some 24 year old driving a Lexus or some person your age driving an old truck or Volvo.

I recall an antique apple cider press that belonged to a friend's family which my truck brought out here from out West a couple of years ago after there was a death in that family. The wood is old, there's scratches on it, and with it, he can make the sweetest cider ever imagined. I look at the picture of an old friend I keep in my desk, the hairline receding, the hands worn with work, but an artists hands. When I look at the picture, I feel a curious elation as if I'm finally noticing the details that matter.

Look at the world around you, to that which has withstood time, things carefully tended. Stop at the gun show and talk to that 80 year old veteran about something more than the price of his brass. Chances are he won't regail you with stories of the war, no riposte of sweaty storytelling of gunfire and noise which all war stories are composed of, no ragged lines of gaunt infantry beneath the tattered flags of courage. No, what he will tell you quietly, is simple This was my gun, it served me well, but I'm willing to sell it. Let me tell you about it. And what stories it can tell.

The tables of new AR15's are interesting, like a 20 year old in shorts is interesting. But give me the tables of Mausers, of Colts, of wood and flint and powder, the galloping thunder of guns which have fired through the fading fury of smoke into the night.

I don't care if my safe is full of plastic and shiny and new. Our lives are sublets anyway, and too quickly gone. Give me something with history, something of strength and purpose and years, that will give as much back as I can possible give it in return. Not everyone understands. I have a coworker who, like I, loves old guns, but his wife said "no more". It's not a matter of cost, but simply her not understanding the need She really has no idea how many he has, just that she didn't want him coming home with any more. So he leaves with a gun in a case "to trade". but the case is empty and when he comes home with another old firearm, she said "well good, at least it's an even trade".

How do you explain to someone whose life is driven by "what will the neighbor's think", that there are just some things essential to you, that when you see them, you not only recognize them, you wish to experience. But I think it's probably the same thing I think when I see a woman's closet with a 100 pairs of shoes and think "why on earth would someone want a closet full of shoes?"

Of course, not everything that is used is useful, not everything of weight has measure.. There will be things you find that end up costing you more than money. But you still seek those treasures that remain. You may find them on a table in a hall, you may find them, in a house where they've been locked for far too long. You may find them just breathing, at that same moment in time you are, that small place on a planet spinning in space, destined to meet.

If you're over 40 you've experienced it. You're walking, talking surrounded by noise and clutter, and people clutching at you, demands on your time, living your life, you thought, quite happily. And there it is. Life isn't exciting but it's steady. And like that moment in Jaws, where the camera looms in on Sheriff Brody, and the whole world focuses, it does. For just a moment. And you suddenly notice every little detail around you, the sun running straight and empty, like gash down the corridor, a tiny spider web there at the corner of the room, the sun piercing it, illuminating the empty spaces there between the delicate strength.. And you see what it is you desire, held in that moment with conviction, that sense, that feeling of home.

And you know, you were meant to hold it, for just one moment, that small piece of history, that large piece of yourself you never knew you needed. And you reach for it, one of those impulses, inscrutable yet unassailable which occurs at intervals in all of us, driving us to set down the known and the safe, and seek the possession of something rare, blind to everything but hope and fate.

Or you can just push it away, leave it behind, common sense taking over, and go home quietly to die.

You won't do that a second time.

For you are like I am, and some night when you are old, you will lay in that tent, that old firearm by your side, unable to sleep, but quiet and peaceful, listening to the nights whisper. The past was your future, but you couldn't taste it until, it too was past. Anything else was an illusion. You lay there without regret, for seeking that which you needed, that moment of time, when history and fate were held in your hand and you knew what you wanted. Perhaps it was just a moment, before you set it away, perhaps you made it yours for all time, but in that moment the two of you were joined, it was grace.

A need so necessary, part of the history that remains.
- Brigid

Posted by Brigid at December 3, 2010 08:19 PM

Very, very nice Brigid.

Posted by: Tim at December 3, 2010 10:28 PM

Nice way to start a weekend.

Posted by: lazrtex at December 4, 2010 03:23 AM

Thanks Doc.
I am that old man with the coach gun. Wanna hear the story?

Posted by: Skip at December 4, 2010 05:51 AM

Great story, turn more of this into a book and I will read it!

Posted by: LCR Blogger at December 4, 2010 07:51 PM

I have an old Colt Trooper from the mid 60's in the safe. It's got holster wear and a sense of use about it and just feels good in the hand.

I like the way you write.

Posted by: maxx at December 5, 2010 11:35 AM

I like stories like yours. I find myself departing from the story at times reflecting on memories of days gone. Stories like yours are good for bringing out those memories which are not lost, just filed away.

Posted by: capt26thga at December 5, 2010 06:08 PM

Thank you gentlemen. I hope to have a few more up here. My Dad passed down his stories and I hope to do the same for my daughter and my frirends.

Posted by: Brigid at December 5, 2010 09:36 PM