Sunday, June 21, 2009

Outdoor World

Ever notice how the line between corporate propaganda and entertainment has been just a wee-bit blurred? I happened to be in the Lancaster area this weekend for my daughter's field hockey showcase. We spent the night in between Harrisburg/Hershey at the lovely Marriott Town Suites. Directly across the street was Outdoor World. I heard they had an indoor pond, so we decided to check it out. (They had an 40,000 gallon fresh-water indoor aquarium with big-assed fish, all native to the area.)

In case you are unfamiliar with Outdoor World a.k.a. Bass Pro Shop, it is a mega-retail store where you can get everything to both ENJOY and OBLITERATE nature. This seems to be a bit of a paradox to me, but apparently normal for everyone else who patronizes the store. If you haven't been there before, it's a weird mix of history museum diorama combined with arcade and retail consumption. 

Upon entering the store, you might think you've mistakenly wandered into a taxidermist or British Hunt Club. The walls are covered with dead animal heads staring accusingly at you. Besides the deer and fish heads, there are rhinos, cats (not the domestic kind) and other exotic creatures which do not roam Harrisburg or the North American frontier. I'm immediately suspicious. Where do these dead animals come from? Do people who illegally hunt/poach in Africa donate their kills to Outdoor World?  

I confess to touching a large musk ox located at the top of the stairs. It felt 'real'. The sign said that it had come from an Arctic expedition in the 1960s. I also saw a strange gazelle like creature which also felt 'real', but his legs were attached with metal screws. Is this normal taxidermy procedure?

Next stop was the gun section. There was an arcade area where for 50 cents, you could practice shooting targets--25 rounds. My son was very excited to do this. The object was to hit the target and make an animal move. I watched the man next to me, who didn't make a single shot. Hopefully he wasn't one of the local police officers. My son was rather dreadful as well. After 24 misses, I took the gun from him and nailed a ground hog. It is my curse as a somewhat anti-gun person to also be a sharpshooter. The groundhog didn't explode or anything, but his tail moved up and down. My daughter was a bit more successful. She managed to get the rattlesnake to shake his tail and the bear to move out of his cave.

After this, we progressed to the REAL guns. Unfortunately the FINE gun boutique was closed. I was curious as to what differentiated a fine gun from a not so fine gun. Does one kill better than another one? The friendly gun man with a twang in his voice, behind the counter was very anxious to assist. My first question--How much do the Glock 9 mm go for? He wants to know what size of Glock? Is this for me to shoot? I respond--I want to know how much my husband spent when he bought a gun without consulting me and hid it under the bed. All of a sudden, the guy loses his helpful demeanor. You can tell all those gun people stick together. He doesn't want to get a fellow GUN BROTHER in trouble. So he hems and haws. I am persistent. I find out that Glocks can go for $1K. My daughter suggests that I store this info away for future blackmailing. I've taught her well. 

My next question is tough, but he keeps a straight face as he answers. I want to know if there are gun engineers who can manufacture me a gun that will shoot salt bullets. He doesn't look around for a hidden camera. He actually gives me a legit answer. I need a chemist who can figure out what kind of propellent won't burn up the salt. He suggests calling a chemist from Penn State. I can tell that I-- a.k.a. the crazy lady will be a topic of conversation later over a beer with a shot of J.D. while gun-cleaning.

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