Thursday, November 11, 2010

I had a good surprise a while back.

My buddy Waters had just driven up to Waco somewhere to pick up a new toy. He called me and told me he was gonna pick me up, take me up to his place to shoot his new rifle, and then bring me back after. He's got a girlfriend that lives here in Killeen, and he stays at her place at times during the week.

He had the new toy in his trunk. He told me he'd just pick me up on a drive from her place, and then after the shoot he'd leave the new gun at his house and drive me back, on the way back to stay with his wowman. I thought, "OK, that's cool."

We'd made plans a few weeks earlier to do the shooting. The last time he'd had a big shoot, Denise and I were in Orlando, sittin' by a pool, sippin' adult beverages. This time it'd just be the two of us. What with me havin' all this time on my hands, and him pickin' up that new M-4 carbine, why not bust a few caps?

Thing is, Denise and I had plans to go over to eat dinner with my mom that evening, so I was under orders to be home no later than 4:15. No problem. Dave arrived to get me at about 10:30. I loaded my gear into his trunk and we were off.

We got up to his place and set up our shooting range next to his house. He was gonna shoot his new carbine, and also try to sight in his AKM.

My job was to be Dave's spotter. He brought out a nice, comfy chair for me to sit in. Said he'd got it especially for me, seein' how it was particularly sturdily built and all. "Are you sayin' I have a big ass?" I took it well. Hell, it was comfortable. The way I figure it, so long as my ass is narrower than my shoulders, I'm good to go.

He handed me some old Navy surplus binoculars to do my spotting. They were really nice. I think he said he picked them up somewhere for a few bucks.

He figures someone "liberated" them from a ship back in the '60s or '70s. I was so impressed, I looked them up on the web when I got the chance. They wanted about a hundred bucks for some, with the case and everything. One of these days...

We set up a range, with a target set up about 75 yards away from Dave's shooting table.

There you go. Now you can see it. Pretty soon, it was time for Dave to see how his new gun shoots.

You can see him there, lookin' over to see if I'm spotting for him, finding me filming. I did the same thing when he took out the AKM.

We worked on that one for a while, getting it sighted in pretty good.

When the time came, we packed away the guns, put away the table and chairs, and headed back down to my house.

When we got there, I quickly realized that something was up. There was yellow disaster area tape on the front gate, and a black balloon hanging from it. This is the view I had when I walked in the front door. "Oh shit," I thought. "What the hell is goin' on?"

Turns out, Denise had pulled a fast one on me. She'd plotted with a lot of my friends to have a surprise 50th birthday party for me. I think she got everyone she could contact, or who she could get the numbers for. It was wonderful.

Our friend Kay was there, lookin' around at all my stuff, sayin' stuff like "It's like a museum." She's known Denise for years, and got to know me after we realized that we had a great mutual friend. My big brother Mushy is her cousin. Funny how the world works.

of course, the most moving thing about the day was seeing my mother walk up the drive. I came close to tearing up then. and it wasn't just the box of her very special fried chicken that she'd fixed for the party. I couldn't believe all these folks would come here to celebrate my birthday. It was very moving.

I was shocked when my buddy Glenn walked in the door. Hell, he lives up in Waco. I couldn't believe it.

We've known one another for something like 12 years, teaching together on Ft. Hood, and in Gatesville at one of the prison units, and we've become good buddies. We go to concerts now and then, and get together with our women to eat and have a good time.

My buddy Joe showed up with his lovely wife Marie. He's a shooting buddy, but I got to know him out on Ft. Hood, where he used to work. He was the guy that kept the building going that Glenn, Dave and I used to teach in. Glenn still teaches out there, and says the place is really going down hill since the college decided to save some money by letting Joe and his coworkers go. Administrators... Go figure.

Pretty soon, it was time to blow out the candles and try the cake. It was a beauty. I was surprised that there wasn't a forest of flame on there, but there was no need to alert the fire department.

OK, first of all, there was no way anyone else could have seen my ass, and she's seen it way too many times to be that shocked. But that's my mom. She's such a sweet Southern lady. Wonderful!

Dave had disappeared for a while, but then he showed up again with his lovely girlfriend Cora. By then, Mom's chicken was the talk of the party. Both the chicken and the cake were dwindlin' away fast, as well as the wonderful sandwich stuff that Denise had laid out for everyone. And people were startin' to wonder why I wasn't openin' presents. So I reached for the first, most obvious article.

BOOZE! Denise's chum Karen and her hubby Rick restocked my cupboard with a big bottle Cruzan rum. It's good stuff, and makes a great Rum & Coke. Kay gave me a gift card to a cool liquor store in Temple. You'd think I was a whiskey sponge. By the way, the red face was from the shooting.

Glenn gave me a bag of books, including several volumes of P.J. O'Rourke's work, and the recently published autobiography of Kieth Richards. Awesome.

Dave got me some cinnamon covered almonds from San Saba. He knows how much I love that stuff.

And Joe got me some new shells. Yea, he knows me. 7.62x39. Woohooo!

Thanks to all my friends who came to the party, and to all the rest who couldn't come. The presents and the cards were all wonderful. But the best present you give me is your continued friendship. I feel the love. I hope you do to.

Denise got me a set of DVDs. The Pacific, which was recently shown on HBO. It's wonderful. Thanks baby, for the present, and for the surprise. You really got me. Furthermore, you've enriched my life so much in the last few years, and stood by me through all this recent bullshit. I love you baby... Big bunches!

So, there you go. I'm 50 years young, chronologically. Maybe about 12 or 15 in most other ways. Feels good to me. I think I make this look good.


Kenneth said...

Great party. One thing about that many candles, if anyone tries to count them, the heat will drive them back.
Nice gun, but it sure looks complicated to shoot. What if the target quits standing there and starts running at you real fast? As far as I could tell, anyone sitting behind a desk, on a lounge chair, drinking a slurpee, might be in grave danger.

BRUNO said...

I'm glad you zoomed the target for me---all I saw was a tree-line, at first!

Bring that target IN, oh, maybe 50-yds or so, an' then I MIGHT be able to qualify with a "pizzabox"-ranking! (For each year you age, you get to move it in one-yard CLOSER!)

And I won't even make a wisecrack about your "W.C. Fields-impression"!!!


FHB said...

Kenneth - Dude, that's why they invented hand grenades. Believe me, there were enough guns laying around, if anyone had come at us from the trees, they'd a been hurtin'.

FHB said...

Bruno - WC was the man. Always loved him.