It’s a Zen Thing

The Brown-Eyed Girl and I parted ways a little while back so, to help lift my spirits, my friend Phil took me to the rifle range to blast cartoon zombies with his AR-15. I know what you’re thinking, high powered rifles and breakups don’t mix. But hey, it works for me.

“The rifle’s zeroed in at 100 yards,” Phil says as I tuck the weapon into my shoulder. “Just put the crosshairs on where you want the bullet to go.”

“Cool,” I say, placing the reticle on the grinning zombie’s head. “I’m gonna get you, you zombie commie.”

“Let ‘er rip.” Phil says.

I flip the selector switch to fire, steady the crosshairs and pull the trigger. BOOM! A small hole appears in the zombie’s head.

“You got him!’ Phil says.

“Beginner’s luck,” I say. “Let me try again.”

I look back through the telescopic sight, reacquire my target, hold my breath and pull the trigger again. As the 5.56 millimeter slug explodes out of the barrel at 3000 feet per second a burning pain suddenly sears itself into my neck.

“OW! OW! OW!” I shriek.

‘What’s the matter?” Phil shouts.

My first thought is a that I’ve been hit by a freak ricochet. But when I put my hand to my neck I discover the source of my pain. A hot shell casing has roasted itself onto my flesh.

“Shit,”’ I grunt, swatting the casing away. It hurts like hell.

Phil laughs. “Dude,” he says. “I told you to wear a hat.”

“Man,” I say, rubbing the traumatized area, “That burns”

I put the rifle on safe and standup. Phil examines my neck. “Not too bad,” he says. “It’s just a little burn.”

“I think I need some ointment or something.”

“Oh suck it up,” Phil says. “You’ve got zombies to kill.”

Ignoring the pain I get back down on the shooting mat and blast through several magazines of ammo. During my outings with Phil I’ve discovered that shooting relaxes me. Because what you’re holding in your hands is so deadly you have to be totally focused on what you’re doing lest you blow your head off. As I shred my zombie enemy to pieces I discover that all the thoughts and feelings crowding my mind just disappear. When I’m finished I’m totally relaxed. I guess it’s some sort of Zen thing.

“I think you killed him,” Phil says, observing my handiwork.

“Yep,” I say in my best John Wayne voice. “I surely did.”

“Let’s pack up all this shit and get some beers,” Phil says. “Get you near some women.”

“Right back on the horse?” I say.

“Damn straight,” Phil says.

Phil and I drop the heavy weapons back at his house and cruise over to a local bar for some libations. Truth be told, the bar doesn’t have a target rich female environment. It’s a local yokel place and the girls are either too young or don’t have the requisite number of teeth. Actually I’m kind of relieved. I’m not into flirting right now. But don’t worry. I soon will be.

Phil and I put away some burgers and beers and call it a night. When I get up the next day I discover that the burn on my neck has blistered into something purple and ugly. Just great. Putting on my workout clothes I head over to the gym to sweat out the badness. As I huff and puff on the treadmill one of the girls I’m friendly with walks up to me and grins.

“So you had fun last night, huh?” she says.

“What are you talking about?”

“You’ve got a hickey.”

“Oh that,” I say, reflexively putting my hand to my neck. “No such luck. Just a burn.”

“How’d you get a burn there?” the girl asks.

I think about saying, “Oh it’s burn from a 5.56 millimeter shell casing,” but think better of it. “I was cooking and some grease splattered on my neck,” I say instead.

“Hmmm,” the girl says. “Well, it looks like a hickey to me.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” I say, winking.

The girl walks off and I rev the treadmill to a higher speed. As I break into a light run I start to perspire and the salt from my sweat starts burning the sore on my neck. I ignore it. I haven’t run in ages Everything feels rusty and hurts. My goal today is a half a mile running and half a mile walking. That’ll probably kill me. But next week I know it’ll hurt less and I’ll be able to do more. One day at a time. Slow and steady.

As I run the pain subsides and I start breathing smoothly. Everything I’m thinking about fades into nothingness. In this moment of sweat and exertion I’m just me. For now it’s enough. I guess it’s a Zen thing.

57 thoughts on “It’s a Zen Thing”

  1. Rosie says:

    Sorry to hear you and brown eyes parted ways, I guess thats just the way it happens sometimes.

    Nice post though – you should totally try paintball.

  2. NYC Diner says:

    I don’t know…maybe telling her about the firing range trip might have been a good thing. Some women hide a secret passion for the GI Joe type and she goes to the gym so you know she’s not afraid of a little pain….

    You don’t sound too cut-up about the break-up which is good.

  3. F says:

    Aww… so sorry to hear about the break-up

  4. Jeff says:

    Sorry to hear about the breakup, Waiter.

    It’s always a really good day on this end when I see that you’ve updated your blog, if it’s any consolation.

  5. Adri says:

    You should have told her it was a shell casing! Lots of women like going shooting, they just won’t admit it right away.. and that could have been an invitation for fun with a woman and a gun!

  6. Joan of Argghh! says:

    Damn if you didn’t have the perfect, absolute perfect explanation for that burn in answer to an absolute flirtatious comment. . . and you let it ride.

    All things in their time, I suppose.

    Meanwhile, for future reference: no matter what a woman says to the contrary, a man packing heat is a major, major turn-on. Even if she chides and disdains and demurs, she is totally turned on. Raw power and you’re wielding it? You just became the Alpha in her immediate line of sight.

    *ahem* just sayin’ . . .

  7. Pingback: – Rant away « Once there was a girl…
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  9. PK says:

    Glad you see the virtues of target shooting. Everyone knows you have to wear a hat and a high collared shirt! Oh, and fix that second sentence (your->you’re). (Sorry, my editors eye.)

  10. Emery from Washington and actually in Washington says:

    She probably knew you were lying….. that John Wayne thing, you know: “Aw shucks ma’am, this little ole hole in my chest? It ain’t nothin’ but a flesh wound.”

    Man!!! You blew it!

  11. IT Guy says:

    The only thing I miss about the Marines is the rifle range. You sit there for a week going through the rigmarole of firing and I was so much better off for it.

  12. squeaky lemons says:

    While I’m sorry to hear about the break up, I have to agree with everyone else here… You let that door just SLAM shut. Wow. If it’s any consolation, your true explanation would have been so overly perfect & macho that she may very well have not believed you anyway!

  13. Bree says:

    Sorry to hear about the break up. At least you’re able to deal with it in “healthy” ways. 😉 By the way, I’m happy to see you putting up a story again. It’s been far too long. But I guess that might have been because of the break up. Anyways, it’s nice to see your stories. 🙂 I’ve missed them. Keep them coming, Waiter!

  14. mccn says:

    I feel the same way when I’m shooting arrows, which I used to do. It really does clear your mind out.

    Sorry about the breakup – I’ll buy you a beer, if you like!

  15. I Can't Find A Job says:

    Sorry to hear about the breakup, Steve. Not to rub salt in a wound, but your latest set of posts focusing on Brown Eyes relected a great deal of happiness, contenment, security, and happiness. It was great to see your writing finally reflect that.

    I’m sure another one will come your way and provide you everything you are looking for and more!

    P.S. How’s the book coming?

  16. Jennlm says:

    So sorry about the break up. Thanks for posting the story, I enjoyed it 🙂

  17. kcbelles says:

    Awww, Steve – bummer about brown eyes. You guys sounded like a cute couple. But you know the saying; whenever a door closes, a window opens someplace else. I hope the hurt isn’t too bad; does sound like you’ve got handle on it here. Good to see a regular post – always feel like I scored big when I come here and see a new one :o)

  18. Amy says:

    Sorry about the girl. I am left of center politics wise and go shooting. My dad taught me all about it and it is our thing that we do. I love it. And had you shared how you got that mark with me? That would have made me smile and an offer to buy you a beer.

  19. xKitchenstaff says:

    Do not feed the troll

  20. MelC says:

    sorry to hear about brown eyes but glad you posted a new blog!

  21. Amanda says:

    Lemme tell you something, my friend… As long as it’s on an certified rifle range, and you’re shooting at cartoon zombies, high-powered fire power and break-ups work just fine, thank you very much. Or… uh… so I’ve heard… I mean, yeah…. I’d never… ahem….

    Sorry about the break-up, but glad you’re determined to get back in the saddle soon. And, next time… yeah… a hat at the range.



  22. Anonymous says:

    I always thought that you and Crazy Aunt Purl (check out her website) would make a cute couple.

  23. Steve says:

    Dude! Sorry to hear about you and Brown-Eyes.

    I disagree about the judgment that guns and a recent breakup are bad news – look where you came out at!

    Maybe this explains my social lameness, but I woulda told your friend about the shell casing.

    Just my opinion. Glad you are getting back on the workout and dating horse(s?)


  24. Just Mike says:

    Sorry about Brow-eyes, you are moving on and that is very good.

    Good to see you writing again keep it up Waiter.

  25. Stuck serving says:

    Shotguns can be very therapudic too!

  26. Val from CapeTown says:

    Sorry about the breakup – but thrilled, as always, when another post appears! Hang in there, WR, life takes odd turns sometimes.

  27. Mike says:

    Your GOAL is to run half – HALF! – of a mile!? Yeesh!

  28. Dan from sydney says:

    Sorry to hear about you and brown eyes. Break-ups suck so dealing with it on your own way, guns (nice btw), is important.

    Glad to see your writing again. Was worried.
    Loved the book, can’t wait for the next installment.

  29. Carrie says:

    I’m sorry about the break-up. I hope that you feel much better soon.

    Was going to say: I am a chic, and I gotta’ agree with some of the comments. It’s nice to meet a guy who knows how to handle a gun. I think part of it is the confidence it exudes.

    Anyway, I haven’t fired in quite a while, but I will have to try it for therapy. I know the last time I went, I definitely had fun.

    But I TOTALLY get what you mean about running. I always feel zen when I’m done. Don’t be discouraged. I can’t really run for half a mile straight either–but they say alternating walking and running is one of the best ways to lose weight!

    Keep your chin up!

  30. Instinct says:

    Should have told her it was from shooting. Carrie is right, girls like to know that guys can handle themselves like that.

    Try shotguns. If you’ve never tried them they are a lot of fun. Here’s a video of a friend of mine unloading her’s downrange.

    No zombies will ever get past her or her husband.

  31. Instinct says:

    Eh, wrong link. Need coffee….

  32. Nanashi says:

    As a counterpoint, I am female and find guns rather abhorrent. I do not find a man who knows how to handle a gun sexy. But then, I also practice martial arts, and a good martial artist is about the hottest guy around (my husband puts up with a giant poster of Bruce Lee over the t.v. with the old gaming systems).

    Oh oh, and you shouldn’t listen to the macho bullshit about the burn. Treat the damn thing, so you don’t regret it in the morning! Having the balls to take care of yourself is way better than cowing to some silly notion of it being macho to put up with unnecessary pain and increased injury!

  33. Billy Bob Gun Nut says:


    Bruce Lee was a god among men. A superb athlete, philosopher and the preeminent martial artist of all time, he could, in a reasonably fair fight, kick the ass of anyone on the planet. He wasn’t a bad actor either.

    But if Bruce knew he was going in harm’s way he’d have picked up a gun too. Why? Because he knew any gomer with a modicum of training could pick somebody off at 100 yards with a decent quality rifle. Bruce was fast but he knew he wasn’t faster than a bullet traveling 3000 feet per second. And he knew that, against a man with a gun, his moves would be useless more than twenty feet away from his adversary. And there’s no such thing as a fair fight in the real world. Having studied martial arts myself I can tell you countless stories of black belts having their asses handed to them by people with street fighting know how or wielding a gun. As Chris Rock famously observed, “Having a gun means I don’t have to work out!” Funny, sad, but true. A 300 pound lard ass could shoot Bruce before he got his numchucks out! Bruce knew that.

    I agree there’s nothing really sexy about shooting guns. They’re purpose built weapons designed to kill. But having some knowledge about how to use one, even if you choose not to be a gun owner, is a valuable skill. Who knows when you’ll have to pick one up and use it.? Never say never. Better to know how and not use it than to need it and not know how.

    Some people think guns are “abhorrent.” In the hands of the wrong people they certainly can be. But while firearms take lives they also save lives everyday. That’s not very PC I know but if you look at the stats, even the conservative ones, guns save more lives than they take them by a huge margin.

    And before anyone levels the “gun as penis enhancement” charge it’s interesting to note that Freud never thought gun ownership was a symptom of sexual inadequacy. Rather, he thought an “inordinate fear” of weapons was a sign of immaturity. Go figure.

    Go to the range one day Nanashi. You might like it!

  34. Chris says:

    My girlfriend got the same burn when a .22 shell casing few down her neck and got stuck between the sweater and her cleavage. We’re hoping it doesn’t leave a scar.

    You’re right… It is a Zen thing – it’s always nice to get into an activity that focuses my mind when dealing with something like a breakup.

  35. Tiffany says:

    I finally was able to check your book out at the library. (There was a waiting list.) I’m not very far into it, but so far I love it!


  36. Instinct says:

    Nicly put, Billy Bob Gun Nut. I used to help teach martial arts and a rape defense class. Sensei’s first statement to the rape defense class was “This is last resort training, if you really want to be protected you can either train for years, get hurt, knocked down, battered, bruised and shaken. Or, you can go and get a gun and learn how to use it.”

    Fact is that I’m good at fighting and I’ve been in plenty of them, but if someone is coming at me and I can tilt the odds in my favor I’ll do it. If that means drawing down then I draw down.

  37. Corinne says:

    i’m sorry about the breakup waiter. i know what you mean about how shooting is so relaxing 🙂

    i kind of miss how waiterrant used to be focused on rants, but i do like how it sort of became an emotional buffer for you as well

  38. meglena says:

    It’s great to have you posting again!
    I hope you feel better soon. The burn sounds nasty and I’m sorry about break-up – your recent posts gave a happy and content vibe, without being too smug.
    Slow and steady and a lot of sweat and exertion is probably the best way to go

  39. MJ says:

    Don’t lie!

  40. Jackie says:

    If it had been me and you mentioned a shell casing, I would have hopped right up there on a treadmill next to you to find out more about you. I would have asked you to take me with you next time you went to the firing range. I would have asked you about guns and stuff and maybe we would still be talking…

  41. Becs says:

    Oh,Waiter. I’m sorry you and Brown Eyes went your separate ways.

    Keep on truckin’.

  42. David McCarty says:

    I loved your book, and I have to say I’m impressed you’re actually still writing a blog. I would think it would get in the way of a new book. Good on ya!

  43. spud says:

    Brown Eyes and stories both gone.

  44. Robert says:

    Shooting rifles actually IS a zen thing. Shooting pistols though is more of a strength/endurance thing.

  45. reg says:

    Ahem ‘PK’ … comment #8 with the typo correction and the “editors eye” … I believe that should be “editor’s eye” (the eye of the editor {possessive})… take the beam out of your own eye etc. 🙂

    Keep the blogs coming, Waiter!

  46. Clay says:

    Steve – sorry to hear that you and Brown Eyes didn’t work out. Best thing you can do for yourself is to work off that frustration, get in shape, and U.P.G.R.A.D.E.

  47. a_geek_girl says:

    I did that with a hot shell casing from an M16 when I was active duty. Thought I’d been stung by a wasp. Screamed like the girl I am. Then the Drill Sergeant whacked me on the helmet with his cleaning rod a few times. Shut me right up. Brutal, yet effective.

    There’s nothing like heavy artillery to mend a broken heart.

  48. spud says:

    Why delete that one?

  49. Speak Teach says:

    Wow, you gotta love shooting zombies. I have never tried the rifle range for a stress relief. I think I may have to look into this.

    Not sure about the burn though.. lol

  50. Andrea says:

    About freaking time! ;o) Sorry to hear about your break up. We’ve missed your posts here. Glad you got some of your frustrations out :o) nothing like a little gun powder and lead to bring it back to zen :o) Good luck out there!

  51. Second Amendment says:

    A 5.56mm round is neither “heavy artillery” nor “heavy weapons” but it is good to enjoy the many benefits of the Bill of Rights!


    Korean Man’s Guide to Getting Sex in LA

    Korean Man’s Guide to Getting Sex in LA for Cheap

    Page [1] [2]
    I know the name of this article may sound crass. But I know lots of Korean guys would like some information on this subject. Getting sex in LA for cheap? Well isn’t that what all guys want? Spend the least money you can to get that one thing all guys want. Poontang! Well I’m not trying to sugar coat anything. Most guys in the age group from 14-30 want one thing and one thing only. Poontang. And since all guys want it, and most of the time money is in short supply, a good strategy of getting it for the least money comes in order.

    So what is a young Korean male to do? Can’t buy me love? Well you sure can in good old Ktown and the greater Los Angeles area. Well, I’m not saying you can buy love, but I’m tellin you what you can buy. Half an hour of good old fuckin and suckin. Something all guys will agree they want. I’m not talking about going to Korean clubs and dropping 100 bucks at a chance of getting some stuck up Ktown hoe’s digits. I’m talking about hitting up those massage parlors in Inglewood! Yes! ghetto ass Inglewood is the place to hit the skins in LA for cheap. And if you don’t believe me, why don’t you pick up a copy of your LA Weekly at your nearest Borders book store and you will see. Masssage parlors are everywhere in LA. But Inglewood is the place to go for the best service.

    I understand many of you will think, me? Pay for sex ? No way! Well let me tell you one thing. Aint shit for free in this world. When you take some girl out to the movies or dinner, who do you think pays for it? The Korean man does! And why does he pay for it? To get the poontang of course! So why not just cut the middle man out and all that crap and just go straight to the source? Well that’s what I decided to do.

    After many years of going to K clubs and other clubs in LA, I found out I was not spending my money wisely. K clubs, 100 bucks down the drain, and what did I get. Some skanky girl’s useless numbers? Now I would have to call their ass up and sit through endless boring ass conversations acting like I gave a shit about their life. Naw, man, I just wanted to hit the skins. So off to Inglewood I trekked to find the holy grail of sexual fun. My friend had told me that for the low price of only 140 dollars. Yes! thats right, only 140 dollars, I could get a bj, and some poontang from some pretty foine ass hoes in Inglewood. I couldn’t believe it. All this time I had been going to Korean clubs chasing after skanky stuck up hoes, when I could have been in Inglewood getting my nut on. I have to admit tho, my first time going, I didnt know what the hell I was doing.

    I walked in, payed the mamasan 40 bucks, then I was led into this small room with a bed in it. Then some girl came in and she told me to get naked. All I could say was, OK. So I got buck naked and layed there on my stomach while she gave me a nice rub down. She looked pretty good too. Then she flipped me over and wooo hooo, I couldn’t believe what she was doing. This girl had skillz! She put a condom on my dick with her mouth! Wow! Well to keep a long story short, we fucked and it was pretty good. I never had to talk to her, listen to her boring shit, I got my nut on , and I left, never to see her ass again. Isn’t that how all male and female interactions should be? Well that’s how I think it should be.

    Now let me tell you how season veterans do it. Go into the massage parlor, pay the 40 dollar entrance fee, then just get your ass in there. Most of the time the mamasan will pick out some girl for you. Dont let this happen. There are usually a couple of girls there you can pick from. For me personally, if I’m gonna shell out money to fuck, I’m gonna damn right pick who I’m gonna fuck. And let me tell you, there are some ugly ass hoes at some of these massage parlors, so it’s always best to pick.

    After you pick who you want, the girl will come in. Try to act dumb, like it’s your first time there. She will then start to massage you. Let her. Once she flips you over, is when the real action comes in. Just tell her you want full service. Then the fuckin and suckin will begin. Never pay the girl before you fuck. Pay her afterwards. This is what I have done. After I have got my nut on, the girl will expect for you to pay her a tip. The usual rate is 100 dollars. Now I don’t know just how cheap all of you are. But my strategy has been just to keep 60 dollars in my wallet. And then to tell the girl, thats all the money I had. I have to admit, when I gave the 60 dollars to the girls, they all gave me a dirty ass look, ,but what do I care what they think right! Hahaha. Well, that is my way of getting sex in LA for 100 bucks. Cheap and Easy, just the way I like my girls.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Sorry about the break-up, Waiter…sorry for BrownEyes, that is as it’s definitely her loss.

  54. beamer1959 says:

    First of all, I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now, and I think, if you’re going to allow comments like #51, I won’t be back.

    I was going to say something nice but now I can’t….

  55. Sabra says:

    A little off topic BUT:
    I don’t know if anyone has heard, but Oprah has announced that due to economic times, it’s okay to tip 10%! A news channel; in the tampa bay area also said that it’s okay to order togo and not tip.

    since when did I work for free?

  56. tennmom says:

    As far as waiting for the other member of our party or “camping out” for 3 hours, my husband and I make a point of leaving a 50% tip. The servers are better off having us camping than turning the table.
    We live in West TN. I have seen a table of ten leave $1 per person for the tip on a $300 check after sitting for hours & running the server ragged because, Hey, they just spent $300 so the server must be getting a part of it, right? Wrong. I’ve been a server. I know what minimum wage is for servers in our state. I would never disrespect a server with an insulting $1 per person tip.
    I suggest that people who do this stay home & order pizza or go to a cheap buffet & eat their fill of greasy fried food.

  57. Stephan says:

    what range do you go to? ive been trying to find one thats cheap in New York, if you know of one that would be nice to tell

  58. Sepia says:

    Hey Steve! I hate when shells get you. My father-in-law has a pistol I won’t shoot with any more because there’s only so much burnt cleavage I can tolerate.
    I’m so glad your book has done well. You’re an amazing writer. I’m actually trying to get my thoughts on paper for a book about my grandmother. Any suggestions?

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