Roger and Me ...
or, Waco Me When IFA’s Over
When you exit the plane in San Antonio, flight attendants frisk you to see if you’re packing a gun. And if you’re not, they give you one. Or so I’ve been told.
Welcome to Texas.
I lived in Texas when I was in junior high, but it was on an Air Force base near Amarillo—the panhandle, which I’ve heard is not considered to be “Texas” by true Texans. I was, however, a cheerleader, which is very Texan. Once the IFA convention in San Antonio was over, I rented a car and headed north to the real Texas—Waco, where Curves Executive Vice President Roger Schmidt has a ranch and gun preserve. His game preserve is a few hours away.
I’m not sure why I was included on the guest list for the cookout and target practice with the high-powered franchise lawyers from both the U.S. and Canada, but I’m glad I was. If Roger had known my background, he probably would have revoked my invitation.
When my son was a toddler, my father, the Colonel, almost excommunicated me from the family because I wouldn’t let him give my son Zack toy guns. I wouldn’t even let Zack use a staple gun until he was 21. Of course, Zack built guns out of Legos and shot his sisters with his pointer finger and thumb trigger, plus he hit them, but I felt I had done my duty as a child of the ‘60s in denying him the real fake thing.
I was also toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian at the time, so I felt a little like an undercover operative at the cookout. Included in the weekend package was a tour of the property, including Roger’s wine cellar, pool hall and workout room. Unlike most of us who have a treadmill and a couple of free weights at home, Roger’s gym held the entire Curves exercise circuit. The only way I knew I wasn’t in an actual Curves studio was the 30 or so deer and antelope skulls artfully displayed on the wall behind the circle of equipment.
Dinner consisted of numerous delicious sides prepared by his wife, Lana, and beef, antelope and deer, grilled à la Roger. As he grilled the meat, Roger talked about his working ranch with a plethora of common and unusual breeds of deer, antelope, etc. Some so rare, they don’t hunt them. I was touched by his story about a newborn deer whose leg had been broken. A lot of people would have shot it on the spot, but he called the vet to set the leg, the old softie explained. “Ohhhh, that is sooo nice,” I gushed. Yeah, it’s not like I won’t shoot it later, he replied, flipping the dead flesh on the grill.
I did end up eating the meat, and I enjoyed it. Sorry, Bambi.
The next day I rose early for my balloon ride with Gary Heavin, founder of Curves (see story on page 14). And then met the future sharp shooters for breakfast at a Mexican restaurant before heading out for the firing range. Once again I felt like a culinary wimp. While Gary heaped fiery, green salsa on his already spicy burrito, I ate pancakes.
It was chilly and the ground was muddy when we pulled onto a field with three hills fronted by boards at varying distances. After Andrew Perrin’s rental car was liberated from the muddy field, the shooting commenced. Andrew and his Larkin Hoffman colleague, Meredith Bauer, were headed to the airport to catch a flight, but Roger made sure Meredith had a chance to shoot at least one rifle and get her picture taken.
The guns were unbelievable—a Kentucky Derby for desk jockeys. If the battle at the Alamo had happened at Roger’s house ... well, let’s just say it would have ended differently.
The lawyers’ eyes lit up like kids in a candy store. Before turning us loose on the firing range, Roger gave the safety talk. As a certified, licensed gun instructor, Roger taught us all proper gun handling—which I’m pleased to say included not aiming your gun at people (and, yes, he was counting lawyers as people) and keeping your finger away from the trigger until you’re ready to pull it. We were not allowed to be foolish—although we were allowed to look foolish, which is why we all have photos of ourselves posed as Rambo. Guns have safeties, and I’m convinced that if I ever need to defend myself with one, I’d have to ask my attacker to please be patient while I load the gun, locate the safety and then try to remember which of my eyes was lasered for far vision and which for near, so I could focus through the gun’s sights. Is that unreasonable to ask of a wanna-be felon?
Nancy can be reached at 612-767-3200 or at email@example.com
Next Roger demonstrated a gun so large it had to have a brace to be fired. He showed me how to use the sights to line up and hit the target that would send up a smoke cloud like in war movies. I pulled the trigger three times and never came close to hitting the target. Roger, who had donned his full-Monty camos to make this look official, shook his head in amazement. “How could you miss it?” he asked.
I wasn’t alone. When we graduated from rifles to pistols and moved closer to the target, one of the lawyers remarked, “There aren’t a lot of holes in these targets.” Indeed, the paper man with the big round circles on his chest was virtually unscathed. Apparently, the only damage we, as a group, could inflict was to sue him for failure to comply—or I could have spelled his name wrong in a story.
While assault rifles are cool, there’s something really sexy about handguns. I have a picture of me wearing headphones (guns are loud), Roger’s wife’s fur-hooded jacket and black leather gloves, both arms extended while firing. I e-mailed the picture to attorney Lane Fisher, who had introduced me to Roger at the last legal symposium, and told him I wanted to use the cop phrase, “Freeze ... expletive-expletive,” but felt it wasn’t ladylike. He wrote back, “That’s an East Coast expression. I think the literal translation (for Texas) is ‘Howdy, Pardner.’” I also e-mailed the picture to a few friends, with the subject line: “Have you done anything to tick me off lately?” It seemed funny at the time, but I was immediately sorry. I wouldn’t want my yoga class to stumble upon the picture on the Web some day—or my grandchildren.
I will never be a card-carrying member of the NRA, although before I married, my initials were NRA (Nancy Ruth Angus)—which I guess is fitting for a gun-slinging, liberal, carnivore—in Texas.