Have you ever met somebody who seemed like they were born to succeed? Beautiful babies that grew into beautiful children and then beautiful adults? People blessed with naturally wonderful personalities, intelligence, athletic skills, and the ability to always be in the right place at the right time so that fortune smiles on them?
Yeah, I’m not one of those people. I’ve never seen a baby picture of myself, probably because my parents were poor and didn’t want to break their only camera taking a picture of my ugly mug. My personality can best be described as “does not play well with others.” I’ve always been just smart enough to know what not to say in a given situation, but too dumb to keep my mouth shut. The closest I ever came to being any kind of athlete is having a body roughly shaped like a football standing on end. And as for being in the right place at the right time? I’m one of those “You should have been here yesterday, the fish were almost jumping right into the boat” kind of guys. Seriously, if I have a guardian angel, I’m pretty sure he drinks. A lot.
But even so, every once in a while, the gods throw you a bone, and you get lucky.
As I have mentioned before, I spent part of my Army time as a firearms instructor at West Point, which was the perfect job for a guy who loves to shoot but has always been too poor to by a lot of ammunition. I took advantage of my position and burned up a lot of your taxpayer dollars shooting everything in our arsenal that I could get my hands on.
So when I got out of the Army I was a pretty good shot. Not good enough to make anybody think I was Annie Oakley, but I was going bald by then and could not have pulled that off anyway.
One day after I became a civilian again and moved back to Ohio, I was target shooting with my dad, my older brother Jack, and a high school friend named Dan. Now, you have to understand my family dynamics. I was the youngest of eight children and was born late in my parents’ lives. Jack actually had a son older than me. So to him, I was just another kid.
As I said, having just spent two years running a rifle range and shooting just about every day, I was pretty good back then. That day I was shooting a little .22 Ruger 10/22 carbine and nailed every tin can we had. Then my brother stood some empty 12 gauge shogun shells on end and told me to shoot them. The range was only about 25 yards and I was used to routinely shooting targets at 300 meters, so that was no challenge at all. I knocked every one over. Easy peasy. So Jack set up some empty 410 gauge shotgun shells, which were much thinner. And I did the same thing.
Frustrated that I had not missed, Jack pulled a quarter out of his pocket and said, “Hit this, smart ass” as he flipped it in the air. I was standing there with the butt of the little rifle on my hip, and I just pulled the trigger for the hell of it. In some once on a million freak occurrence of time and space, the quarter must have flown into the bullet’s path, and I hit it just slightly off of dead center. It was just pure dumb luck and had nothing to do with my shooting abilities.
It took Jack a few minutes to find the coin, and while he was looking for it, my dad and friend were looking at me grinning, knowing there was no way I actually hit the darned thing on purpose. When Jack finally found it he was amazed. So was I, but I never let that show.
Jack pulled out another quarter and dared me to do it again. Trying to act as nonchalant as possible, I said, “No. You know I can do it, and Dad knows I can do it, and Dan knows I can do it. Why waste another quarter showing off?”
Not much about me ever impressed my brother, but that did, and he talked about it for a long time. And every time, the story got better. To the point that he told one of our uncles that it was almost dark and I was walking away with the rifle over my shoulder and never even turned around, just pulled the trigger, nailed it, and kept right on walking.
Yeah, sometimes you get lucky.
I am trying to build up my presence on the BookBub website, which I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. That being the case, I would appreciate any of my readers going to my author’s page and following me there. https://www.bookbub.com/profile/nick-russell?list=author_books
Thought For The Day – I read that one of the first symptoms of COVID-19 is a lack of taste. Based upon my exes, I think I’ve had it for most of my life.