Some time ago (“some time” being a relative phrase given my age, and an ambiguous one given the anonymity I’m about to protect) I went on a few dates with a girl who we’ll refer to as “Karen” (“few” also being purposefully ambiguous). Karen was kind of amazing – she was tall, pretty, hilarious and genuinely smart; she was the type of girl that makes me feel dumb, and considering I think I’m the smartest motherfucker in any given room, that’s not an easy feat. As far as exes go, Karen’s tastes were the most simpatico to my own; she liked the same music and the same shitty movies as me, and she’s the person most responsible for turning me on to Woody Allen. Karen also had a scary, kind of morbid side to her. If she were a movie character she’d be a mix of Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Winona Ryder in Reality Bites, and Charlize Theron in Monster (thankfully, though, with a much prettier face). Now, I fully admit that I have a weird fascination with Jim Jones or with Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris – essentially, I’m obsessed with serial killers* – but she seemed truly captivated by the idea of suicide; it wasn’t that she wanted to commit suicide (or that I want to commit mass murder) but that she was transfixed by the idea that someone could leave everyone they loved behind (given, of course, that they actually had anyone to love, or be loved by) with one simple gunshot, or a bad night with Jack Daniels and some quaaludes. She hated a guy like Kurt Cobain, and yet was absolutely obsessed with trying to understand his mental state. It didn’t seem weird at the time; we were both, really, just curious as to how anyone – serial killers, or suicidal rock stars – could be so selfish.
*I’m also obsessed with people like Hitler, Stalin and bin Laden. It’s unclear how many women I’ve just turned off by typing that sentence.
One night we stayed up talking about the things we like to do when we’re stressed, or just generally pissed off. I told her I like to just get drunk and either read or write – it doesn’t matter what I write or what I read (I could probably read about 17th century agrarian economics and be just as happy as if I were reading about the ’98 Yankees), but merely that the idea of sentence construction and syntax is therapeutic, in my own nerdy way. I told her I loved the process of writing – of how I, or whoever I’m reading, develop our (likely) booze-addled ideas and turn them into legitimate, coherent thoughts. Putting a thought into words was my release. She told me her favorite thing to do was “go to the range” – being from the northeast, I simply figured she meant the driving range. I was very wrong. She loved to shoot guns – she was sort of like Robin Scherbatzky, but not as tall, and not as Canadian. She suggested we go shooting the next morning. Now, I’m wholly against guns on a moral basis, and under normal circumstances I would never have shot a gun in my life, but here was a girl who I was absolutely smitten with, and who was basically letting me see her in her most vulnerable place…how could I possibly say no to that and still think I could be with her?
So the next morning we drove out to some bumblefuck town and shot some guns, and, while I can see how it could be therapeutic, I would probably never do it again – not because of my moral objection to the very idea of guns, but because of what ideas holding an actual, loaded gun placed in my head. There’s something amazing and yet terrifying about physically holding a gun. And in that moment, on that Saturday morning, I felt – for the first (and only) time – homicidal. If I turned 180 degrees and simply clutched my right index finger, I could kill Karen. I started to wonder whether or not the state we were in had a death penalty (it didn’t). I had this scary, euphoric rush of power – as if, in that moment, I could do anything – and I suddenly realized why she loved coming here: guns get you high. I imagine the way I felt that morning would be pretty similar to how I’d feel if I had smoked bathsalts – I just felt invincible, and yet murderous.
Just a few hours later that same night, we were at a friend’s apartment, to which someone had brought an illegally-imported bottle of (I think) Swiss absinthe. Karen had a knack for getting me to do things I’d never done before, so, naturally, I had some. As someone who drinks quite a bit, the buzz from absinthe was unlike anything else I’d ever really felt. I didn’t hallucinate or see any green fairies like the dude in Eurotrip; I just felt clear. After a couple of shots of absinthe I had simultaneous thoughts of “Ohmygod, I really need my notebook,” and “Holy shit, I think I’m in love with Karen” (I wasn’t).
In the same night I felt two different sorts of highs – one of homicidal power, and another of what I can only describe as mental clarity mixed with an emotional rush towards a person I had only (then) known for about two weeks. Absinthe made me (momentarily) fall in love with Karen; a gun made me want to kill her. I will pay anyone $1 if they can explain to me why absinthe is illegal in this country and guns are not.