Father’s Day

The official state gun.

We were out of town this week, visiting family in Long Beach. I actually had a whole slew of blog ideas, but then…the day got away from me. It’s really the fault of a massive ongoing project to purge my house completely of clutter, a process I began back in May and have been working on bit by bit. Accordingly, my plan to dust my bookshelves today morphed into a complete reorganization project. The dusty backs of shelves saw the light of day. A pair of lamps I’ve been storing emerged.

(This is all by way of excusing a more thoughtful post.)

One of the things I found on the shelves was an advertising rate card for whatever publication the NRA puts out, some monthly magazine on, like, the pleasures of the concealed carry. I don’t know. I am not a gun enthusiast myself, though I live in a state that now has, courtesy of the governor, an official state gun (the Colt single action Army revolver).

I came into possession of the rate card when I was trying to write an essay about the town where I grew up, which is overrun with gun enthusiasts. I interviewed my dad for the essay (he grew up on a farm and owns guns, though he doesn’t hunt), and he provided the rate card. I hung onto it because it contained interesting demographic info about NRA membership. Ultimately, the essay didn’t work, and I haven’t revised it, and I don’t have terribly original thoughts on gun ownership…what I’m really laboring toward here is a connection to my dad, and some kind of acknowledgment that we as a country decided to declare today father’s day, a day for fathers. Good job, fathers! Well done, Dad!

My dad hasn’t read the crap essay that I wrote using his quotes, or another, slightly less crappy essay that I wrote more recently using the same quotes. He didn’t ask to read it, or if he did I put him off, and he was fine with that. But he was happy to provide his input anyway. My dad’s an engineer, not a writer, but he was the first experience I had with a formal crit. It was known, in my family, that if you wanted him to look at something, he would. You left it at his place at the table, and the next day it would be waiting for you, marked up in his all-caps handwriting. I remember his feedback being a mix of big-picture (flaws in thinking) and line edits, and I distinctly recall him writing me a full letter with detailed feedback on some report or essay I’d asked him to look into.

That all of this transpired via correspondence is something that appeals to me still, the idea of writing the unsay-able. That the act of writing is a more precise way of communication than a conversation about the same report or essay. I think on the surface, declining to actually talk about something face to face would seem  to suggest a certain lack of care, but the amount of care devoted to off-line correspondence revealed to me the exact opposite.

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