Not My Finest Moment

A mea culpa…

 

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog about professionalism-at-arms.  I was specifically referring to our responsibility as gun owners and, more importantly, those who carry guns to operate at a higher level of maturity and, frankly, stoicism than others, not simply in the way we present ourselves to those around us, but also how we communicate with those who don’t necessarily hold our same views.  

 

In the blog I referred to a neighborhood party we attended where I was queried by a neighbor on the need for someone to own an AR-15.  Rather than be belligerent, combative, or arrogant in my response, I initiated a somewhat academic discussion about firearms, training, the philosophy behind the Second Amendment, and Second Amendment jurisprudence.  I wasn’t belittling or didactic.  I was, frankly, somewhat dispassionate and empirical.  That individual has since become a regular client here at Artemis.  

 

My restraint and composure led to an evolution in thinking on his part, and he became a new member of our community.  

 

Then there was last weekend.

 

Some backstory is necessary:

 

At the beginning of the Toilet Paper Wars of 2020, the son of my uncle’s longtime girlfriend was preparing to get married.  They chose a venue in Palm Springs for their wedding that ultimately had to be called off due to the pandemic.  

 

They did get married through a justice of the peace, but his now wife still wanted her wedding.  There’s nothing wrong with that, to be sure.

 

A few months back, they announced they were going to redo the wedding at the same venue, and my parents, as well as Sandy and myself, were invited.  

 

I did not want to go.

 

It was not that I was antagonistic to the idea of the belated wedding; I just don’t know these people all that well.  I have seen the groom maybe a dozen times in my life at family get-togethers, and both he and his now wife are a solid generation below me.  This was going to be a big “wedding” with over 300 people, and I honestly just did not see the need for Sandy or me to be there.

 

My mother felt differently.

 

I was told, with no ambiguity, that our presence was mandatory as far as she was concerned.  

 

So… being a team player (that really means that Sandy told me to suck it up), we went out to Palm Desert for the soirée.

 

(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)

 

Late Sunday afternoon, my folks and Sandy and myself traveled to a resort in Palm Springs to participate in the wedding.  

 

It was a Jewish ceremony and the wedding itself was actually quite nice.  Sandy had never been to a Jewish wedding (which surprised me… our wedding in Las Vegas 23 years ago had Jewish “elements” to it, but was not a “Jewish” wedding)… so she was fascinated by the ceremony and the Rabbi was quite good.

 

(As a complete aside… many of you know that I grew my beard out for “No-Shave November”.  Up to that wedding I have been quite proud of it.  Sandy and I took a selfie while we were sitting in the chairs waiting for the wedding to start.  She looked beautiful in the photo; I looked like a rabbi wearing a yarmulke.  Yeah… the beard is coming off on Dec. 1.)

 

We then went a few hundred yards to the reception area and found our seats at the appointed table for the reception.

 

This is when the problems began.

 

The four of us sat at our round table and waited to see who else we were going to be seated next to.  

 

Another family arrived and joined us:  a husband, probably in his mid-sixties, his wife, their daughter, her boyfriend and a four-year-old niece who had been “deposited” with them.  The niece was the daughter of one of the bridesmaids.  

 

The niece was Beelzebub.   

 

She was seated next to my father, and was completely out of control.  I could see my father becoming visibly agitated.  

 

Strike that.  I could see a Biblical rage beginning to boil within him.  So could my mother.  

 

This is not unprecedented for my father.  

 

Growing up I always resented his displays of annoyance when we were at restaurants and the service was subpar.  Perhaps I am still a little sensitive to that.

 

Regardless, my mother asked my father if he would prefer to change seats with her.  

 

He curtly told her no.  He was going to wallow in his annoyance god damnit.

 

Time for me to intervene.

 

I got up and walked over to my dad, touched his arm, and asked him to join me.  

 

We walked a few paces from the table and I had the following “directed” conversation with him:

 

Dad… are you annoyed?”

 

“Yes!”

 

“I know… I am too… In fact, I suspect many of us here tonight are.  Here is the thing though… At the end of tonight people are going to be driving back home thinking about one of two things.  The first possibility is that they are going to be thinking… yeah… nice wedding, not sure why I had to go… but whatever… at least the drinks were free.  The second… real possibility… is that they are going to be thinking:  Who the hell was that asshole who started screaming at someone else’s kid, made a scene and made everyone uncomfortable.  If that happens, Pop, your wife… my wife… and even I will be embarrassed.  So… here is what is going to happen:  You are going to take my seat, I am going to take yours and sit next to the devil child, and you are going to be happy, pleasant, and sit through this shit until we can get the hell out of here.  Comprende?” 

 

My father sheepishly nodded in agreement and we went back to the table where he took my original seat.

 

Problem solved. 

 

My dad then began talking to the father of the other family.

 

He seemed like an affable enough gent.  He owned, or was partners with another in a manufacturing business; his actual position was somewhat unclear.  He did state they lived in Santa Monica.  

 

During this conversation the child was actually taken from the table by his mother… so I was able to actually listen now to what was transpiring between these two men.

 

I leaned in and asked him where in Santa Monica they lived.  I told them I had lived in Santa Monica during my first year of law school.  

 

He lit up and asked me what type of law I practiced.  

 

“Firearms law and use-of-force.”

 

His countenance immediately changed.

 

Here we go!… Another opportunity is about to present itself!   Professionalism-at-Arms, baby!  Be ready and prepared to be gracious, dignified, and, perhaps, bring a new member into the community by the end of the evening!

 

“Oh… I wish there were no guns at all.”

 

I nodded, listening to him… really showing him that I was interested in what he had to say.

 

“I hate the NRA.”

 

I continued to nod.  

 

“Yes, I hear you… Many of us are deeply disappointed in what is going on with the NRA.”

 

He did not seem to understand what I meant.

 

“You probably are like the rest of them and think that that Rittenhouse kid should have been acquitted,” he said derisively.

 

I exploded.

 

For the next 45 minutes I became a bully.  No… more than a bully… I was flat-out “Mussolini on the balcony,” arms waving, chin arrogantly pointed at him.

 

Each feeble attempt he made to contradict me was deflected and responded to with a barrage of facts, figures, invectives.  

 

I was destroying him.

 

He was withering under the full weight of my artillery barrage.

 

I made him feel like an idiot, I am sure… and, worse, I did it in front of his wife, child, and her boyfriend.  

 

I would not let up.  

 

I saw blood and went into a full-on frenzy.

 

Now, Sandy has a habit of putting her hand on my leg when I am in a conversation with someone when she realizes I am either dominating the conversation or going somewhere I shouldn’t.  I completely trust her.  When she does this, I immediately stop… even if I am not sure why she is giving me the cue to stand down.

 

I still have her nail marks on my thigh from that evening.

 

She placed her right hand on my leg, then she squeezed, then she full-on drew blood.

 

I didn’t care.

 

I had gone from advocate to executioner.  This guy disagreed with my position and god damnit he was going to pay for his intellectual laziness!

 

I could see he was trying now to escape, and I wasn’t going to let him go.  He made the colossal mistake of daring to spar with me and I was going to leave my mark.

 

Then the wedding speeches started.

 

Damn it.

 

We sat there and listened until it was finally an appropriate time for us to depart.  

 

He was actually quite gracious to all of us as we left.  He didn’t need to be, but he was.

 

I got into the driver’s seat of the car and Sandy sat down next to me as my parents got into the back.  

 

As I turned over the engine, I looked at Sandy.

 

“Kinda went over the top, huh?”  I sheepishly said.

 

“Yep.”  

 

“Yeah… not my finest moment.”

 

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw my dad absolutely beaming with delight.

 

“Hey kid, you did fine!” he said with a grin.  “And no one is going to be talking about me tonight on their way home!”  

 

Sigh…

 

(Here is the thing though… and I have to be honest and admit to it:  God, it felt good!)

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Comments (36)

  • Madeleine Tokle Reply

    I enjoyed that. Especially your dad’s reaction.

    12/01/2021 at 07:40
  • Kevin S. Reply

    I truly believe that the Academy’s 2003 snub for your work in “House of Sand And Fog” was political. You absolutely killed that role, dude!! Ghandi was your finest work, but we can’t return to our youth, can we?

    Don’t shave the beard, you might get more first-credit film roles.

    12/01/2021 at 07:48
  • Gene Reply

    Brilliant! Is there video?

    12/01/2021 at 07:55
  • Eric Chen Reply

    Sometimes you actually DO have to lay someone’s complete ignorance out on full display so they can face it squarely…and feel like an idiot. And as soon as he pigeonholed you into one of his “Us vs. THEM” categories he fucking deserved it.

    12/01/2021 at 07:56
  • Mike Graves Reply

    Absolutely hilarious. I literally LOL. One of your finest, at least most entertaining pieces! We’ve all been there. Some, more than others. It’s nice to know you’re human after all.

    12/01/2021 at 07:56
  • Barry Reder, D.D.S. Reply

    Steve- Perhaps you would be kind enough to write down your diatribe. I’m sure that you made many “direct hits” and I would like to read the words as well as you can remember them! They- your words, might proove helpful in future encounters I have at weddings.

    12/01/2021 at 08:03
  • Terry Anderson Reply

    Thank you for your mea culpa. I couldn’t stop grinning, nodding and laughing as I read it. Felt a bit close to home. I appreciate your like a son, son.

    12/01/2021 at 08:03
  • Susie Morris Reply

    I absolutely love your stories makes me feel almost like I’m there. I was on a plane over Thanksgiving weekend and had someone ask me what I thought I’d the Rittenhouse verdict. I politely said it was spot on justice then turned and put my head on the window without giving them a chance to interact with my comment. Probably not my finest moment either.

    12/01/2021 at 08:04
  • Bret Parker Reply

    I was waiting for, “You cant handle the truth.” My analysis is you didn’t want to go in the first place which primed your choice of response. I wish I had been there. Thanks for sharing. At least you didn’t make him cry.

    12/01/2021 at 08:27
    • Max Reply

      Your closing statement is true.
      Yes, I’m sure professionalism at arms was the correct thing to do.
      I hate to see an ignorant person get a painful dose of reality, possibly causing them to withdrawal back , or more, into the addiction of propaganda & ‘woke’ sheep culture but on behalf of the Rittenhouse Klan of So Cal: ThanksSteven 😉

      12/01/2021 at 19:24
    • max Reply

      Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know — that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

      12/01/2021 at 19:31
  • Lori Reply

    Loved it! You have a way with words that creates a visual as though your right there. Thanks and keep them coming.

    12/01/2021 at 08:32
  • Evelyn Reply

    Great stuff made my morning with my coffee!

    12/01/2021 at 08:37
  • Pascal Nguyen Reply

    Sometimes you have to put people in their place. That was a great story Steven. Thanks for sharing. Btw, you look marvelous with your beard.

    12/01/2021 at 08:41
    • Dave Belovsky Reply

      I really enjoyed reading this one especially because of the surroundings and parent’s around and the way you kept him at bay. Great job. I wish I could have been a bug in his car to listen to his conversation on the way home. LOL

      12/01/2021 at 10:59
  • Jerry Schammel Reply

    Totally understand. I usually try to remain calm and reasonable but sometimes their ignorance and self-righteousness is just infuriating. Thanks for a great laugh tho.

    12/01/2021 at 09:00
  • Ken Gryske Reply

    Best story ever! It had every element: Love, multi-generational society, family interpersonal relationships, conservatives, liberals and guns.
    Tell me another one Papa!

    12/01/2021 at 09:02
  • Tony K Reply

    I can completely relate. Been there, done that. But I try not to ever do that again. Like you I have won people over, or at least brought them into more neutral territory. But that was an opportunity that was lost. Oh well, live and learn, you’ll get another chance for sure.

    The pleasure from trouncing them with their own ignorance is never as good as the one that comes from winning them over.

    12/01/2021 at 09:07
  • David Reply

    I think I just pees my pants!
    Fantastic story!

    12/01/2021 at 09:18
  • James lowes Reply

    Hilarious!!!

    I only wish that I had been on the invitation list for the wedding so that I could see this unfold in person…

    Your family is priceless!!!

    12/01/2021 at 09:34
  • Glenn Okamoto Reply

    Lol , I loved every word , and especially your Dad’s final comment

    Wonderful

    12/01/2021 at 10:03
  • Sean Reply

    LOL, I loved that story, and it shows you are human. I have been in that situation a couple of times, including the leg claw from the wife, though I can’t say I’ve ever had blood drawn! As much as you try to deescalate, sometimes the other party is intent on ignorantly continuing the attack, facts be damned.

    12/01/2021 at 10:52
  • John Budinger Reply

    Really funny, Steve, but an invaluable lesson for me as well (I have your father’s tendency toward irritation).

    12/01/2021 at 11:09
  • Marianna Reply

    I am one of the few people in the Artemis community that doesn’t necessarily share all the same views as the rest. But I both love and respect the way you handle things and have always shared your views in an intelligent and researched way, so I am always happy and eager to hear your side of things. (It’s always good to know both sides before forming a concrete opinion) That being said, this is a GREAT story. I appreciate your being willing to share that you were wrong, and the thought of your Dad grinning in the back seat is hilarious. I can imagine what it must’ve been like to be antagonized and put on edge from the start, and frankly, many of us would’ve struggled not to react the same way. Between the unnecessary giant wedding, to the demon child, to the outspoken politics with strangers…because THAT always goes well…ugh. It is funny when something unexpected kicks us over the edge. Your wife is a saint!!! Anyway, while I may not agree with all of the views that are shared with this community, I appreciate the intelligence and integrity that you always show, and am always proud to support Artemis and LOVE going to your classes.

    12/01/2021 at 11:45
    • Max Reply

      Why was he wrong?

      12/01/2021 at 19:34
  • Christy Barnum Reply

    Steven, I swear you should do “stand up comedy”. That cracked me up! You speak well, you write well and now this…
    I can’t wait to read the next blog!

    12/01/2021 at 12:27
  • Howard Wallace Reply

    Great story, well written, I chuckled several times.

    12/01/2021 at 12:32
  • JASON BOWMAN Reply

    ABSOLUTELY EPIC BROTHER!!!
    Your Fathers reaction was priceless at the least….as soon as you said they were from SANTA MONICA I could almost feel exactly where this was going
    but anyhow your story was even better the more you wrote.
    IM GLAD YOU STOOD YOUR GROUND!!! CHEERS TO YOU SIR!!!

    12/01/2021 at 13:30
  • Adam Sheck Reply

    Great you put yourself in the line of fire to protect your dad. Your working definition of stoic is interesting though, brother 😉

    12/01/2021 at 15:29
  • Jon Brick Reply

    Good for you. I’m so tired of truth taking a backseat to political correctness.

    12/01/2021 at 15:43
  • Don Deatherage Reply

    Being of the ‘Older Generation’ I identify with your father. It’s nice not to be the after party conversation subject; but watching you explode on another idiot would have been a pleasure. My empathy feels your contempt of another ‘media swayed’ troll.

    12/01/2021 at 17:27
  • Jeff Mathews Reply

    Awesome! Would love to know your comments/points made while you were addressing (or dressing down) the individual at your table. Keep up the good work.

    12/01/2021 at 17:35
  • max Reply

    Your closing statement is true.
    Yes, I’m sure professionalism at arms was the correct thing to do.
    I hate to see an ignorant person get a painful dose of reality, possibly causing them to withdrawal back , or more, into the addiction of propaganda & ‘woke’ sheep culture but on behalf of the Rittenhouse Klan of So Cal: ThanksSteven

    12/01/2021 at 19:26
  • Donna Rose Reply

    Thanks for straightening him out, one person at a time! Rittenhouse was being bullied and was just a political persecution! Our second amendment rights need to be protected, as the bad guys have no rules or laws to which they will abide. The crooks and criminals of this world will continue to be around us. Thanks for a great story and for sharing your voice!

    12/03/2021 at 11:22
  • Hugh Everhart Reply

    Steve, thanks for sharing a great story. First, I am glad that Beelzebub had left the table before the subject of guns came up. I wouldn’t want her to be contemplating future gun ownership based on her behavior. Second, it just goes to show that there comes a time when you just have to stand up and fight for what you believe in and that being reasonable doesn’t always effectively correct failed thinking or dissuade uninformed people. Oh, and God bless Sandy, she didn’t agree with your approach, but she didn’t abandon you either.

    12/05/2021 at 19:14
  • Norm Ellis Reply

    Absolutely wonderful LOL

    12/08/2021 at 16:16

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