For 24 years, the whole time I was in the Philippines prior to leaving for the United States, I knew that my father owned a gun. I can’t tell you what kind it is, or what it looks like, because I never actually saw it. I only heard it. Because, every New Year’s Eve, my father would take out his gun from wherever it was hidden and, at the stroke of midnight, he would slip out into the backyard and fire celebratory shots into the night sky, the noise competing with all the exploding firecrackers in our Manila neighborhood.
My father died in early December of 1969, a year after I left for America. I don’t know what happened to his gun, but some years later I heard from my siblings that, late one night, when my mother heard someone walking stealthily on the roof of our old house in Sta. Mesa, she apparently found my father’s gun and did what he did, slipping out into the backyard and firing warning shots into the night sky, frightening not just whomever was up there on the roof, but also all future intruders. Those gunshots were to let everyone in the neighborhood know that my mother had a gun in the house, and that she was not afraid to use it.
I am truly conflicted about this story about my gun-toting parents, because I’ve always been afraid of guns. I’ve never had one, and I don’t ever intend to acquire one, the NRA and the second amendment be damned. But, that said, if I actually had a gun, I think I might have put it to good use in some of the following situations:
On the highway, whenever someone passes me on the right, or when someone cuts into my lane without signaling.
In grocery stores, whenever anyone with tons of groceries decides to use the checkout line marked “For 14 items or less.”
On airplanes, whenever there are mothers who do nothing to stifle the penetrating screams of their crying infants.
In restaurants, whenever the avaricious owner fails to honor my reservation for a semi-private room, then sends me a long non-apology via voice-mail explaining why my party of nine was bypassed for a party of twenty because “twenty is more than nine.”
In posh hotels, whenever affluent one-percenters give me the finger because I’m wearing my Bernie Sanders t-shirt.
At home, while watching the news on television, and it’s (almost always) about Benghazi or Hillary’s e-mails or, worse, the latest pearls of wisdom from Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, ad nauseam.
In the classroom, whenever an overly enthusiastic student will not shut up and give those who are more timid a chance to speak. When I started to feel this way, about five years ago, I decided it was time to retire.
I may be a son of a gun, but thank God I don’t have a gun. Now, if I had a hammer, guess what I would do with it?