My wife, Lyn, and I celebrated Valentine’s Day with a dinner at our favorite restaurant. From the outside appearance, it could be a Victorian-era beer joint. Inside the food is exquisite and the portions are so ample that we split a meal. We chatted about the gun violence dominating the news and wondered whether times were any worse than Prohibition with its St. Valentine’s Day machine gun gang murders.
Then the food came. The bread was warm, moist and crusty; the butter ice cold. The salad was a heap of tender fresh greens; the soup, savory dense minestrone with five species of beans. The pork chops, seared with cross-hatched grill marks, were an inch thick, tender, slightly pink on the inside and served with a heap of garlicky barley and mushrooms.
Lyn’s eyes lit with excitement on spotting chocolate chip cookie pie on the dessert menu. It did not fail our expectations.
Then, as we put on our coats in the vestibule, a red-faced middle-aged man rushed in and soon out again, this time following another man at whom he yelled, “You hit my car.”
The other shouted back, “I did not hit your car.” As we followed them out the door they continued the accusations and the denials with their voices rising and with foul names hurled back and forth.
As I reconstruct the “crime,” the first fellow had just left the restaurant with his wife and daughter and they were sitting in their car preparing to drive away. The second fellow pulled his car into the parking lot facing the first and either touched or bumped bumpers. He hurried into the restaurant, soon to be extracted by the first. They both appeared to have some liquor under their belts.
Our car was parked next to the offending car, so it was impossible to avoid the scene. I was sorely tempted to intervene until, screaming at each other, one of the men reached inside his coat and tugged at something.
My mind flashed back to a winter trip to Colorado. We had rented snowmobiles and were following the trail pointed out to us by the outfitter. Suddenly, across a field, there was an angry man with his rifle pointed at me. We got off our machines and motioned trying to ask him, “What do you want us to do?” When he didn’t respond, we got back on our machines and started to leave. He fired his rifle. I saw the slug go into the snow in front of me and I stopped. When he finished his harangue he added, “If you are ever in this situation again, don’t try to leave. My only choice is to shoot.”
Back to the restaurant parking lot: The angry man tugging inside his jacket extracted a cellphone rather than a gun. He dialed quickly, yelling, “The police will be here in five minutes.”
The object of his anger abruptly jumped into his car and moved it to another parking space. I don’t know what happened after that. We left the instant the way was clear.
Wayne La Pierre’s slogan, “The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” doesn’t work. Who decides who the bad guy is?
Pogo had it figured out: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
If those two self-righteous characters had been carrying guns, all the good food in the world would not have prevented another St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.