Why I Do Not Need a Pistol


“Officers on the scene had reason to believe that an altercation involving a firearm was about to happen and were trying to stop it,” Michael Bloomberg said.

Right, so they fired 50 bullets into this unarmed novio and his two friends.

Novio and friends brushed against someone’s shin with their car, and hit another car, causing minor damage. They had just left a club, and it was after midnight.

When I lived in town, I went out every night. That’s right, every night. Not in a very decadent way. Nothing starts until nearly midnight. Like many people, I would work most of the evening, and then stop in somewhere. I would leave again after the first set, so I could be at the office early the next morning.

I have had people put dents in my car three times, and brush against my shin as they left their parking places at least once. Not all of these events took place in the best of neighborhoods.

None of these dent-leavers had insurance, and some did not have drivers’ licenses. At least one was a crackhead. All of them were very exasperating. Words were exchanged. Cars roared off in the night – and from the look of the vehicles, back to the projects.

I may just be lucky not to have suffered a scratch myself, but doubt it. If I had pulled a pistol in any of these incidents – on a cobblestone street, in the tropical night – do you honestly think I would have improved matters?


There are certain occasions upon which I actually do feel I need a pistol, namely, certain kinds of department meetings. Our campus, however, is a firearms free zone. Some faculty act so crazy to each other that the man across the hall from me – actually a very relaxed person, but also an old Southern boy who knows how to shoot – laughs and says, “Damn! If they are going to go on like this, I wonder if I should bring my .38!”

I have a costume I wear to these meetings. It involves some old cowboy boots, the most macho of whatever jeans I happen to own at the moment, and a jacket – actually, a Donna Karan suit jacket in summer, and a trenchcoat in winter. Completing the ensemble is a cowboy hat. One day the hat will be made of black felt in winter, and of straw in summer, but now it is made of brown suede. This outfit is a fetish. Being a fetish, it works every time.

The hat, I only wear from the house to my office. There, I toss it onto the desk with careless expertise. I pick up my imaginary pistol and place it in my waistband, underneath my coat. Thus armed, I stride out to give some non-random marauders a piece of my mind.


6 thoughts on “Why I Do Not Need a Pistol

  1. Ah, department politics. I remember when I first learned of those.

    As an undergrad, a perspicacious professor quietly confided in me that “as an undergraduate, you have a certain degree of freedom that is lost when you matriculate into grad school. Grad students and professors are usually employed by the university. Complain all you want now–they can’t fire you, you are the one paying them. If you have a problem with how the department is run, say something.” and I sure did.

    As for the cops: fuck them. How many times are they going to get away with killing an unarmed Black male for holding a wallet, a candy bar, a bible. I can’t imagine what the bride-to-be is going through…

  2. Hola Luisa – bride-to-be, I know, isn’t it awful?

    “‘Complain all you want now–they can’t fire you, you are the one paying them. If you have a problem with how the department is run, say something.’ and I sure did.”

    I say this too, and I wish more of them would: they’re ‘cautious as cats’ (in the words of another faculty member) … although what they say, and I’m sure it’s sincere, is that they don’t want to overrreact, or seem/be mean, petty, vicious.

  3. An imaginary gun culture too! Shootin’ certainly permeates deep into this nation’s psyche although a campus which is a ‘firearms free zone’ is to be applauded. Perhaps if the whole country were a firearms free zone, armed police officers would be less likely to shoot first and ask questions later, cowboy style? Or international politics style?

    Yeah. World needs to be firearms free zone, actually. Imaginary gun culture, I know – isn’t it weird? Even anti-firearms me has it deeply ingrained in the psyche. –Z

  4. Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone could just battle it out on the cardboard like breakdancers and pop-lockers in the 80’s. Sure, a few people would get hurt on those difficult moves, but nothing too serious. It would be funny too. 🙂
    I love your costume description slinger!

    It would be hilarious – battling out on the cardboard – 🙂 ! –Z

  5. Professor –

    I LOVE your costume! The image of you (even though I have no idea what you look like) dressed up in your cowboy gunslinger garb gave me a well-deserved laugh of the day! thank you!

    As for me, I don’t think I could ever own a gun. I’m lucky to live in a place where guns are not part of the everyday culture; I have never even seen a gun, much less held one or considered owning one. I’d have to really feel seriously personally vulnerable to ever feel like I needed to have a gun. And luckily, that’s not today!

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