My ‘Misunderstood White Guy with a Gun’ Story
Another example of how white men saving face always means violence.
When I was 10 years old, my uncle nearly shot me at point blank range.
Let me explain.
My Uncle Doug was well known for trying and failing to help others, usually insulting them instead. He held first, second, and third place for worst gifts ever given within the family, and once waxed my mother’s brand new Mustang with furniture polish, leaving white swirls all over the black paint job.
But the outrage his efforts produced never dissuaded him from his next project, partially because his mother, my grandmother, always protected and coddled him. He even still, in his fifties, lived in a small bedroom just off the garage, which he filled with unfinished projects and debris. Which is how we come to the fridge.
My mother had gotten hold of an old mini fridge that she wanted to use at work, but the door seal needed replacing. So my uncle volunteered to do it. He might have not even asked for payment for his work.
Soon enough, mom had her fridge and tried to use it. However, she quickly discovered that because of the type of glue he’d used, the inside of the fridge stunk horribly, and any food placed inside would be ruined, tasting of the acrid, chemical smell of the adhesive.
Now, my mom could have simply disposed of her unusable fridge and cut her losses. But that was never quite her style. So instead, she enlisted my help loading the fridge back into the car to deliver back to my uncle.
He was shocked, then insulted, that she’d returned his gift. Mom couldn’t make him understand that the fridge was unusable. As far as he was concerned, it kept things cold, so it worked. She was just being ungrateful. The debate between whether it was fine, or smelled, escalated quickly. They both had notorious tempers.
Doug disappeared into the depths of his hoarded garage and workshop, and my mom seized the opportunity to unload the fridge with my grandmother’s help. I took the middle, trying to help support the weight of the little fridge as best I could.
When Doug returned, he had a gun.
This was the first time I’d seen a handgun that wasn’t holstered on a cop’s hip. I was from the country, and I was used to rifles. Rifles were for sport, for hunting. Handguns were for violence.
My mom and grandmother stopped as he positioned himself opposite me, between them, and aimed the gun at the fridge. He was going to shoot the fridge, at point blank range, rather than take it back from my mom.
My grandmother tried defusing the situation, in her trademark noncommittal way, but as usual, Doug ignored her. Mom got even angrier, and began shouting at him. Among the name calling, she did point out that if the bullet went through the fridge, it would hit me. I hadn’t thought of this. But now I watched the gun with even more apprehension. I don’t remember much of anything else about the situation, but somehow he was persuaded to accept the fridge, and nobody, including myself or the fridge, was shot.
As I write this, Brett Kavanaugh was recently confirmed as Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee. Even after displaying the same incandescent, infantile rage that my uncle displayed over a used fridge. That potentially, could have killed a child over a used fridge.
As I write this, Kavanaugh was recently voted in by a Congress that refuses to do anything about gun violence or mental health issues. In hindsight, while he might not have had a mental illness, my uncle still needed the help that so many gun-wielding angry white men need, and lack access to. And I definitely don’t think he should have had access to a gun.
Still, I know that I’m lucky. Most people that stare down the barrel of a gun don’t live to tell about it. They become statistics. They become hashtags. They become yet another sacrifice on the altar of the Second Amendment.