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I never thought about or appreciated the fickle virtue of timing until a summer day in my early teens when we (mother driving and smoking so heavily that with smoke billowing out her side window an observer might think our Ford was a wood burner) saw the local squad car in front of our house. One of the town coppers (a term in local use) stood in our doorway. Things then were not as now. Enforcement/investigation was more efficient without requirement of permission or a search warrant. In any case, he’d gone through our house and was about to leave when we arrived in another matter of time; namely in the nick of.
Mother was furious he’d been inside our house searching while we were away. A big fear, I suppose, was having a dirty dish or soiled laundry reported, but mother’s main horror was that the officer might have looked in her bedroom. I’d not seen inside that ever closed vault for years and frankly had no interest doing so. Examining father’s suits along with mother’s hung dresses and dresser top bearing rows of ornate and equally odorous perfume bottles with rubber bulbs held no attraction. When I was eight those bottles were fatally fascinating, but a half dozen years further down life’s razorblade and the allure was gone. In the moment, if the officer was dumb enough to have invaded mother’s personal refuge and dumber yet to have told her he’d tramped her sanctum he surely deserved what he’d get. I’d been told one more visit to the bottles on the etched mirror glass dresser topper and there’d be so little left of me I’d fit in a shoe box. I hung back, deliciously excited to see how much trouble the copper was in.
In my experience he got off light. No “Go to your room,” sobbing with pants in hand for him. He pushed past mother’s bluster (brave of him) and got to the point. He was investigating a theft as I’d been reported as seen suspiciously in the vicinity of the water plant where an outboard motor had gone missing. Most any other day I’d have been his suspicious boy seen lurking the vicinity. A conventional joy for my fourteen year old being was stealing from among the boats chained up along the shore. The old Master locks were a cinch to open so with literally no effort I was Captain of the bay rowing my heart out until spent and I returned the boat. If you were ever a male child every atom of your being knows such activity is borrowing and not theft.
I was guilty, guilty of many things, but not as charged. I could hardly have felt more joy unless a five layer chocolate fudge cake had appeared in my room. What normal and self-respecting boy was not up-to-no-good when off on a jaunt? A shot at “no good” was the very reason boys like me looked forward to tomorrow. I might unlock the best boat of the bunch. I might row further than ever. I might learn firsthand if it was true that girls sunbathed topless on the Ski Club Island. There were many important things I had energy for. At least it seemed important to buck the current of the power plant discharge and then moon any observer in a ritual of enjoying the bath warm outflow at the fringes of the plant’s discharge. Any hooliganism I got up to, however, lacked the ambition of trying to lug a ten horse outboard home on my Raleigh three speed. Had I been nuts enough to attempt sneaking a large piece of stolen property past my guard dog mother I might just as well have tried pedaling to our house nude while screaming Yankee Doodle at the top of my lungs.
The event blew over leaving several good things. One was the consolation knowledge that some good could rise from being dragged to Virginia so mother could wear me to a string trying on “outfits” for upcoming school and ongoing church. I hated her selections (the tide was about to turn on who picked my clothes) but at least once the torture of endless in and out of the Bourgin Men’s Wear changing room paid off. It was toe-wiggle sweet having a copper come to pinch me the one day my fingerprints weren’t all over a pair or purloined oars. I can attest it is a great thing when a rascally past gets a free pass Innocent Card good for the rest of the summer.
Recently another timing event has ripened. I told of the Buck Drops hat and said I wanted to try an NRA version. Timing has come to my assistance on that one. Current events mark this as a fine time to wear NRA and see what happens.
Labels and suppositions often drive accepted reality. Our neighbor and dad’s boss was a 45 pistol champ, long time NRA member, and longer time weapon collector. There were enough guns in that house to make a small arsenal. Their presence did not make him (soft spoken) or any of us insensitive to violence any more than a wheelbarrow of fist sized rocks is an incitement to commit a stoning. Violence or hatred is not in things. It’s in people and in systems of belief. But more than in words non-violence and peace is found in acts. It is how we behave.
When I visited a “worker’s paradise” before the decline of communism I saw conditions (acts) at variance with claims (words). Workers and citizens weren’t in paradise. When I hear claims of peace and tolerance I look places where the dogma touting those things is practiced. Quakers and Amish claim peaceful ways, and they demonstrate this by a lack of violent acts that makes the claims of some others look, in fact, empty. Frothing mouth anger at others is not peaceful no matter how justified one thinks it is. If a peaceful cause incites violence it is no longer a peaceful cause and possibly never was.