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Open carry man

December 18, 2015

Pioneer Park in the summer.

Saturday we walked a couple blocks to the rally at Pioneer Park in support of the 50, or so, local Muslims.  I heard that someone with a holstered handgun also showed up, his face covered with a scarf.  The rest of us were–oh, the usual suspects.  Local long-hairs, musicians with Gibson guitars, liberal clergy, my friends, hippies, beatniks, filthy untrained artists.  I see them everywhere.  Writers, too.

Today in the newspaper I saw his photograph, read that the local police had asked the “Open Carry man” to leave the rally, so he did.  Perhaps because he did not support the local Muslims.  I guess not, anyway.

I guess I knew about his presence at the rally at the time, but the weather was cold and I didn’t look for Mr. Open Carry.  I’m an old man, for Christ sake!  Do I have time?   I did notice a huge pickup parked near the rally, but I felt comforted that the license plate had the Crow Tribal Seal.  Was it fair to assume that if Native Americans were present they would be fair-minded?  I think so, and I’m speaking from experience.  After all, they tolerated me!

Perhaps the rally would have been incomplete without someone like the pistol packer nearby to demonstrate against.  I think most people ignored him.

So in that regard, I guess he did support the local Muslims, albeit indirectly.  He didn’t carry a sign, just his sidearm.  And his scarf.  Was he afraid of being recognized?  Even the Muslim women didn’t cover their faces at the rally.  Was anyone frightened?  (Beside him, that is.) Not anyone I spoke to.  Most curled their lip or said some other thing with disdain.  “Who gives a shit?” comes to mind.  Oh yes, I am the one who said that.

P. and I walked the two blocks back home from the park before the photographer had snapped a photo of the people at the rally.  She didn’t feel well!  She had been sick to her stomach the previous night and I needed to head to the Family Promise Christmas party at the American Lutheran Church, a couple blocks on the other side of our house.

Family Promise:  it is the only homeless shelter program in town that allows men to stay with their families.  About four families do one-week rotations at various churches around town.  Because the burden of care is distributed widely, every 12-13 weeks our church houses the families and feeds them.  We sign up volunteers to spend the night and to provide meals.  P. and I and a really lively woman spearhead the effort at our Church of the Fervently Religious.  I attend services, but P. does not, although she is solidly behind Family Promise.

I was one of the first volunteers to arrive at the Christmas party, so I walked down to the gift area.  Here’s how it worked:  kids were ushered down to the gift area and chose gifts for their family members.  The goods were displayed on tables:  scarves and socks and hats, jewelry and watches, flashlights, lotions, ornaments, toys, stuff like that.  My job was to mark their names off a list.  I tried to do it without having to actually ask them their names, because I hate asking people their names.  I did recognize a few, okay one person, from the last time they stayed at our church, the Church of the Fervently Religious.

As I waited for children to enter the gift area, I saw a young lady nearby, her hair pulled back into a pony tail.  She looked like a young adolescent, so I assumed she was somebody’s kid.  She had Buddy Holly glasses, in style these days.  She said her name was Kate.  “Hi, Kate,” I said, “I’m Dan.”

“The pharmacist,” she said.  “Wow,” I said.  “How did you know that?”

“I met you two or three years ago,” she said.  “I’m the veterinarian.”  I peered at her.  She had teeth that had once had braces.

“Oh, I guess I remember you,” I lied.  She was only four-foot something tall and couldn’t have weighed 80 pounds.

“Do they let nine-year-olds become veterinarians?” I asked.

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