Guns and Almonds

Well, it’s the little things, isn’t it? And you can’t get much littler than one of the almond cakes at Peet’s, can you? A situation that is making me feel rather little myself, Jane having returned from the coffee counter in a state of pastry-minus. There being a deplorable lack of almond cakes on this particular day. But a commendable presence of Jane.

Houseguests. She is entertaining two and doing things like making French toast for the assemblage. A noble endeavor, I want to reassure her, but not on a work day. Nevertheless, it has come to pass, this making of breakfast, and Jane has come to pass out, more or less, here at Peet’s with me, pre-work. It is a little thing that isn’t a little thing and is quite a wonderful thing. I tell her about George Lakoff’s latest book. A primer on basic communication for progressives. Liberal speak. We need all we can get.

Unfortunately, all Jane can get by way of almond cakes is zilch. The barista has had a look. The pastry shelf barren. So I am making do with Somersaults, a salted package of sesame and sunflower seed pellets. A snack food, one could say. It’s not breakfast. But it is. And it will do. Problem is, we humans are never satisfied. The almond cake is burning a carbohydrate hole in my stomach. After Jane leaves, well, I just can’t resist. Supposedly, I am sitting here at a Peet’s table learning about effective progressive discourse. And why some significant portion of my brain has been given over to almond cakes, instead of to, say, health care policy…well, the answer lies deep in human physiology. Thing is, I believe that deep in Peet’s, there is an almond cake. I can see it, visualize it. A virtual almond cake, to quote the local computer crowd.

Which is generally a mistake, quoting the local computer crowd. ‘Virtual’ doesn’t apply, even ironically, to tea cakes. Certainly not to reality. Can we talk? This phrase being the only one worth borrowing from Joan Rivers. Anyway, can we? The high-tech usage of words like ‘virtual’ is not precisely inaccurate, just misapplied. Tone deaf as to nuance. CEO Jeff Bezos of Amazon…also the name of a river, by the way…refers to ‘legacy’ publishers. Straight out of computerese, that one is. ‘Legacy systems’ and so on. Legacy and virtual being words that in high-tech usage aim at the target area of meaning but splash down somewhere else. It’s probably like hammering a screw into a board. A nail would be so much better. But if you have the strength and are determined, it’s possible to hammer a screw, threads and all. Though instead of being nailed, you’re going to be screwed. Just thought I’d share.

The almond cake. Why not wander back to the counter and ask, just in case? Can I help you…and, yes, you can…and I can’t see one of those little almond cakes, the ones in the silver paper. Oh. Maybe in the back. Not the virtual back, one should note, but the part that is behind and beyond and invisible. But not now, not for almond cakes, anyway. For damned if a very visible, not to mention tangible, exemplar hasn’t appeared. I thank her profusely. And why? When I need another almond cake like Paul Ryan needs another Ayn Rand novel. I eat it quietly, secretly, at my Peet’s table.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…there are guns. There are always guns. This is America. If there aren’t guns, there aren’t Americans. And that’s the thing. People are gunning for Americans, which is why they need guns. The Americans, that is. Which brings us to the latest chapter involving my American neighbor, Tony.

No one ever said I was a manager. In fact, my managerial skills are not only subnormal, but worse. I am so heedless of detail as to generate confusion when I try to ‘manage’ almost anything. Including guns. The three I recently inherited being housed for safekeeping in Tony’s gun cabinet. A neighborly thing to do, after all. Keep those guns safe. Except that the lawyer managing Tom’s estate has a few specific instructions. One of which is to get the guns appraised. He has sent me the name of a gun shop nearby. And I was thinking that my neighbor Matt, definitely not a gun guy, might retrieve them from Tony…drive up to the gun dealer and get them valued. And chatted with Matt about this. Or thought I had chatted. But Matt might have thought I was issuing more of an instruction, less shooting the breeze…no pun intended…and seems to have shot the breeze himself with, you guessed it, Tony.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…my Roble Avenue ranch…I am trying to comply with the lawyers’ requests. Get things valued. Be apprised of what has, and hasn’t, been appraised. We’re all praise for appraisal around here. Which is why I faxed what little information I have about these guns…mostly their brand-name, Colt, plus a few serial numbers…off to the gun shop. She would get back to me, a woman there said. She was swamped, she added.

Swamped with what, any sane person would ask. The ever present fear being that Americans are arming themselves at an even faster clip than usual. But she did want me to know, the woman in the gun shop, some rough figures. She flicked through the gun valuation blue book – apparently there is such a thing. Well, she said, a couple of thousand for this one, maybe one thousand for that one…. Thanks, I said, hanging up.

A sobering moment. Even more sobering just a couple of moments later when the same woman rang back. Someone had come into her gun shop, she told me, requesting an appraisal. He wanted a low evaluation. And damned if she didn’t happen to notice the serial number of one of the guns. It was Tony, of course, helpfully contributing to the appraisal process. While attempting to drive down the price of the guns, my guns.

So much money in guns. So easy to trade them. After all, they are just collectors’ items. Aren’t they? The funny thing is that when you deal with a gun shop, the blue book, the prices…. Well, you get in this frame of mind quite easily. Why not just sell them? After all, they are old, aren’t they? Friends had done some quick web research and provided an initial guess at the dates of the guns. But no, all three date from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. They are recent enough to do some damage, let us put it that way. So sell them? I think not. Yes, it is certain that this action will have no impact at all on anything. A costly decision, disposing of $4000, maybe $5000 worth of firearms. A bargain, if you ask me. Though…and this is an important part of the story…no one is.

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