My 23-year-old son came strolling in to where I was lying down and dangled a handgun over my face.
"What kind is it?" I asked.
"A Glock 19," he said.
I immediately sat up.
Although I shot an M-16 rifle during a summer trip with a Birthright-type program to Israel in my teens, I never handled a handgun of any kind.
And probably like a lot of people, I always secretly wondered whether, in a terror attack (lo aleinu) if I could just pick up a gun and shoot it?
Did it involved some kind of technical know-how? What about the safety mechanism that needs to be unlocked?
Here was my chance to gain a skill I'd always wanted: handling a common handgun.
My first mini-moment of truth hit when my son showed me how to ready the gun for shooting—basically, to release its safety feature.
Since I do not know the proper terms (and couldn't immediately access the websites that might tell me), I need to rely on descriptions here.
First of all, the top part of the gun slides back.
So you grip the handle with one hand and grab the sliding-back thingy with the other, and slide back the thingy, then instantly release it so it "cha-chings!" back into place.
(Imagine not a tinkly "cha-ching!", but a growly baritone "cha-ching!"—like how a sasquatch might say "cha-ching!")
Now it's ready to shoot.
That action ("cha-ching!") is called lidroch in Hebrew, but for the life of me, I cannot remember the proper term in English. I suppose you rarely hear the term in English, but it sure comes up a lot in modern Hebrew.
(Google Translate only showed me translations for trampling & stomping, which is the correct word, but wrong usage for this context.)
On my first try, I could not even budge the thing though I wrestled with all my might to move the sliding thingy with my dominant hand (the right hand).
My son restrained himself from laughing too hard, and very nicely kept encouraging me: "Harder! Harder—yeah, like that! More! More!"
His face bright with amusement, he alternated between repeatedly showing me how to do it and calling out instructions in an encouraging tone of voice as I wrangled with the sliding thingy.
You could tell he was thinking something like, I know that with enough determination, my Ima can surely cha-ching that gun!
With his unfaltering belief in my abilities, I managed to cha-ching it on the fourth or fifth try.
(To succeed in life, you just need one person who really believes in you.)
Anyway, I practiced cha-chinging it several times until he was satisfied, but continued to find the procedure cumbersome & strenuous.
Even worse, to accomplish the process most swiftly, a right-handed shooter needs to cha-ching the sliding thingy with the weaker & clumsier left hand.
My heart plummeted as the moment-of-truth dawned in its full glory:
Any situation that ever depends on me cha-chinging a gun means all is lost.
My son reassured me that in an actual crisis situation, I could just pick up a gun that had already been cha-chinged and start shooting straight away—which isn't such good news for the owner of the gun, if you think about it.
But my newly discovered lack of skill for a basic action I hadn't realized took real skill & strength now dissipated any hero fantasies like a puff of dandelion fuzzies.
This disappointing moment-of-truth drilled in even deeper when my son took me through the second part of handling a gun: the actual shooting.
(I forgot to say the gun remained empty of bullets throughout this entire episode.)
While immediately catching on to the proper aiming of the Glock, I realized just how difficult that is to achieve with a moving target—or especially when someone is bearing down on you.
Then my son insisted that I hold my arms straight out when I shoot.
He said holding the gun too close with cozily bent arms messes up the aim and also allows too much kickback.
But the gun was so HEAVY.
How do people manage those things with one hand?
While it chirked me up to both learn a new skill & enjoy quality time with my firstborn, the reality of yet another aspect of life being MUCH harder than it looks in the movies evaporated any hero fantasies.
I guess that also living in modern-day Israel, and hearing about these situations in which a passer-by needed to use the gun of a frightened cop or a temporarily incapacitated security guard to neutralize a terrorist...it makes you wonder if you could rise to the occasion too.
Even though the actual chance of finding oneself in such a situation is so low, one really doesn't need to worry about it, but I think hearing about these situations makes people secretly wonder if they could rise to the occasion.
And now I know I can't.
Yet Again, We See that Hollywood Does Not Reflect Real Life
But it also reinforces the happy principle reiterated in Tehillim (Psalm) 20:8:
Eleh varechev v'eleh vasusim—v'anachnu b'Shem HASHEM ELOKEINU nazkir!
These trust in chariots and these trust in horses, but we—we mention the Name of the Lord our God!
And that's the best.