Friends, Guns & Baseball

How do I sum up such a whirlwind vacation? With a super-long, extensive post complete with pictures, that’s how.

First of all, the drive down to North Carolina took us a little under 14 hours. With a pregnant wife, a 2-year-old and a dog that ain’t half bad. At least the kid could pee in his diaper, but the wife had to stop quite a bit due to the parasite in her stomach wreaking havoc on her bladder. Will was very well behaved all things considered. The only time I got a headache was driving through the D.C. area.

Will likes tractors, cranes and other heavy equipment. And when I say he “likes” them, I mean he nearly craps his pants and shrieks with supersonic excitement at the mere sight of them. So when we drove through the Beltway that is under construction, his head nearly exploded. There were fucking excavators, cranes and bulldozers every 10 feet. And Will wasn’t just content with the scene as a whole. That would’ve been to easy (and quiet). Instead, he took joy in each and every piece of equipment. I’m not kidding. It was like Groundhog Day in the backseat.

“TRACTOR!!!!”

“CRANE, DADA, CRANE!!!!”

“ANOTHER TRACTOR!!!”

Over and over again, he shrieked this for 20 miles through the construction zone of our nation’s capital. Thanks a lot Obama. The only thing your federal stimulus funds are increasing is my gigantic migraine from listening to my son’s shrill voice.

When we got to North Carolina we enjoyed six whole days of being with our good friends Vic and Alicia, not to mention my awesome godson Victor III. Our time there was actually a great learning experience in a variety of ways. First of all, it started to prepare me for having two kids in the house. Will and Vic love each other, but they also fought like cats and dogs. The house was FULL of toys, but the only one they wanted to play with was whatever toy the other one had in his hand at any given moment. I felt like I was refereeing constantly, including the two of them taking cheap shots at each other the whole week. One one hand it was really great to watch Will interact with someone his own age, but on the other hand I am openly questioning my sanity for having another kid.

Being around them for nearly a week also allowed me to do something I’m VERY interested in, which is observe how other dads parent. Unfortunately for me, all I found out is I have a lot of work to do. Simply put, Vic is the kind of dad I wish I could be. Vic is a southern guy who joined the military and he parents efficiently, effectively but also compassionately. My godson is potty trained already before the age of 3. He says “yes ma’am” and “yes sir.” He feeds the dog and helps with chores. And when he does get out of hand, Vic reels him in with ease.

Plus Vic is a man’s man and does textbook dad stuff. He fixes everything around the house. He has a cool motorcycle. He works on cars. He builds stuff. Meanwhile I can’t fix anything, I don’t know a tailpipe from a piston and my son listens to me about as much as my wife does. Which can only be classified as “not much.”

However, Vic did help me earn some man points last week.

First of all we went “muddin” in his old Jeep Wrangler. North Carolina has an abundance of off-road trails on which to ride, and we tore through some of them. It was fantastic. Way more fun than I could’ve ever imagined. Unfortunately I didn’t drive because…well…because I can’t drive a standard. So I guess any man points I might’ve earned were immediately subtracted.

But then Vic asked me to do something I thought I’d never do: go to the firing range.

Yup, yours truly — the liberal Massachusetts gun control advocate — shot a firearm for the first time. And you know what? IT WAS FUCKING GREAT!! Vic may be southern, but he’s an impeccably responsible gun owner. So we ran through gun safety before ever stepping foot in the range. And when we did get there, I fired a .22 rifle which was like shooting a pellet gun. And I did really well, hitting the bulls-eye on several occasions. But then we tried out Vic’s newest weapon: a .357 Mag Pug.

The gun shoots .38 ammo as well as .357. And let’s just say it has much more of a kick. I shot the .38 rounds first and was very surprised at the kick. You have to understand, all I know about shooting guns is what I’ve seen in movies. So imagine my surprise when I had to deal with a VERY loud bang, a flash and then gun nearly jumping out of my hands. But I soon got into a groove and I hit the bulls-eye once. But then we switched to the .357 rounds and oh my sweet god was that different. First of all it was deafening. Second, that sucker has some kick to it. I didn’t do too well with that one because I started anticipating the kickback, but I still did OK all things considered.

I don’t often admit that I was wrong, but I was wrong. Shooting a gun responsibly is a lot of fun and now I want one. Call it gun fever if you want, but that shit is addicting.

When we got to Baltimore on Saturday morning I was wicked excited to see my brother Nate and his fiance, as well as my brother-in-law and his wife. Nate and Melissa took us to a place called Port Discovery, which is a hands-on science and activity center for kids. It also features a 3-story climbing structure that Will tore through like a tornado.

Let’s just say Nate chased him through there, because you know I wasn’t about to squeeze my fat ass through all those tiny spaces.

On Sunday we went to Camden Yards to see the Red Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles. We were with my father-in-law, his girlfriend Donna, her son James, and my brother- and sister-in-law. Will really liked it at first.

However, his attention span was less than two innings and the next 90 minutes consisted of trying to corral him in his seat, walking around the concourse and trying to protect the poor woman in front of him from his fists and feet. In short, it was ugly and exhausting. I ended up asking my brother to come pick him up early so I didn’t have a total meltdown. But if you don’t have a crazed toddler to deal with, Camden Yards is one helluva place to watch a game.

But the best part of my vacation, hands down, was when my brother asked me to be his best man.

I didn’t expect it and I would have totally understood him asking someone else. After all, he wasn’t my best man four years ago (although in hindsight I should’ve had two best men, something I deeply regret) and he’s got a ton of friends. But even though Nate and I have always been fairly close, I didn’t really understand how great he is until a few years ago when I realized he’d eventually be leaving to go to Baltimore to be with Melissa. Once Will came along, Nate made a personal vow to be the best uncle any kid has ever had. And he’s not only succeeding, he’s surpassing that goal.

That’s why I’m thrilled I have the opportunity to be best man and try to show him how much I love him and appreciate all he’s done. From planning the bachelor party to delivering a speech at the wedding (which I’ve already been writing for months in my head), I couldn’t be more excited or honored about his wedding next March.

So there you have it. I hung out with old friends, shot a gun, saw some baseball and was asked to be best man all in the same week. Not too shabby at all. And the cherry on top of my vacation sundae is that in a few hours I’ll be riding into Boston with my dad to attend Game 3 of the NBA Finals, to watch the Celtics kick the holy hell out of the hated LA Lakers.

I’m one lucky bastard. GO CELTICS!!

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13 thoughts on “Friends, Guns & Baseball

  1. Glad you caught the fever. Guns are not bad. Firearm safety and responsible ownership is important. Target shooting is enjoyable and honing those skills can help you protect your family.
    Glad to hear you had a great vacation.

  2. “Vic may be southern, but he’s an impeccably responsible gun owner.”

    Are you implying that most southerners who are gun owners are not responsible?

  3. WM: We’ve been agreeing far too often lately? What’s up with that??

    Lisa: Ummm…yeah. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Are you really going to argue there aren’t more gun nuts in the south as compared to the north? Gun laws are way more strict here, whereas down south they basically give you one at the McDonald’s drive-thru. Even though I liked firing a gun responsibly at a range, that doesn’t mean I think the south has it right. In fact, quite the opposite.

    Melissa: I used to feel the same way, but there are trigger locks and all kinds of things you can use to prevent tragedy. Having a gun in the same house as a toddler is fine as long as you take the proper precautions.

  4. Missed your posts for the last week! Glad you had a good time and super happy for you and your brother… nothing better than family.

    BTW, if I ever had any true news-worthy info, you would be my first call!

  5. The trigger locks are good but my big guns have an action locks also, which actually prevents them from being loaded. I know that some people may scoff at any and all things with Firearms. I was brought up with them in my house and i will pass on my family traditions of hunting, and shooting with safety as the paramount. I’m so glad you guys enjoyed your time, and can’t wait to be an hour away instead of 14. Did you stay for all 11 innings?

  6. There probably are more gun nuts in the south because hunting is an obsession around here. Not in our home, but in others. But to imply that it’s the rule (not the exception) that southerners are not responsible with guns is a step-out.

  7. Great post. Sounds like a fun time.

    Of course, when I say great post I mean everything except the last sentence or two. :)
    And the part about the South. Most of my experiences dispute the gun claim but I will definitely be checking my kids’ Happy Meal boxes next time.

  8. DF – Seriously. I have a friend who killed his best friend (also a friend) in the 8th grade. He wasnt QUITE old enough to know that there was a bullet in the barrel. Or he forgot. He KNEW where his dad kept his gun, even though his dad didnt think he did. He killed his best friend, shot him right in the head.

    Fast forward to 3 years ago. He is married, with kids, and seemingly happy. He went to a funeral and saw the mother of the friend that he killed at the funeral home. He fell to his knees and kept on begging her to forgive him, please to forgive him. She had long ago forgiven him and told him so. He continued to freak out just begging her. He had to be taken from the funeral home in an ambulance and was hospitalized with severe PTSD. He is still in the hospital to this day. He completely broke from his adult self and his life and is reliving killing his friend.

    If you enjoyed shooting, then get the gun, join a gun club, and keep your gun AT the club.

    As you know, guns are really not much value as self defense in the home. They more likely get turned on you or stolen.

    PLEASE dont cave to the gun nuts? Speaking as a woman who was shot at twice by her ex-husband/cop who HAD to have a gun in the house and he was insanely jealous. I have felt a bullet go through my HAIR!

    Kids can and WILL find and figure out the locks and whatnot. You KNOW this!

  9. I had to leave our company all staff meeting yesterday to go pick up my 11 year old who was being suspended for 2 days. For calling his teacher the “C” word. Yeah.

  10. Being the daughter of a daughter of a sailor, I voted we have him keelhauled. Luckily for him that got vetoed.

    Well when I first got the call they made it sound as though he had yelled it at her. When I told the CEO why I had to leave he blocked the door because I was shaking so bad my entire body was vibrating, lol. When I got to the school though, it turned out he and another student were being suspended for saying it at their table. I managed, surprisingly, to keep from choking and/or beating him senseless. Instead, he’s been confined to his room for the foreseeable future. He is writing a letter of apology to the teacher. He also had to write an apology statement for his baseball coaches because he was supposed to pitch the game yesterday. I made him write the apology over and over; I got suspended from school for 2 days. I called my teacher a very bad name. I’m sorry for letting my team down. I’m sorry you are all being effected by the consequences of my actions. Then he had to go to the field and read it in front of all his coaches.

    Between the humiliation of telling his coaches and his complete mortification when he found out what the word means, I don’t think we have to worry about him doing that again.

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