My husband, Tom, and I married in October of 1997. We had a small, brief ceremony followed by a loud, drunken party. Just how I planned it. One thing we didn’t plan was that my maid of honor sister would be finalizing her divorce from her husband, a groomsman, pretty much exactly at the same time I was getting married. We also didn’t plan on my sister throwing her back out moving a futon the day before which meant she was high on muscle relaxers during the whole wedding. Her drugged-up state was probably a blessing as it helped diffuse any tension between her and her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Not that my sister would ever cause a scene at my wedding. She’s much too classy for that type of drama. Unlike her ex, who later would get caught testing the load bearing properties of a bathroom sink with a female wedding guest.
But, I digress . . .
The next morning, Tom and I loaded up my Honda Civic hatchback (may she rest in peace) after clearing her of shaving cream and condoms and began the nine hour drive to New Orleans where we would spend our honeymoon. It was smooth sailing as we drove out of Georgia and on through Alabama and Mississippi. However, moments after we crossed over Lake Pontchartrain, blue lights reflected in our rear-view mirror. It was hard to believe that Tom had been speeding as the Honda developed severe palsy whenever the needle edged passed 70, but he pulled over and we waited for the officer.
Here is where I should mention that Tom used to be an extremely paranoid individual. He had a concealed carry permit and would often have a loaded gun on his hip. He always had a gun in the car. He used to sleep with a gun under his pillow. Was my husband a drug lord or a member of some insidious crime ring? No. He’s just an average white guy. However, at the time he was heavily influenced by my sister’s ex (Mr. Bathroom Inspector) who, along with chain smoking and watching Star Trek, collected guns. He used to trade and buy so many guns that a couple GBI agents knocked on his door one morning to see if he was starting his own militia. He answered the door in his underwear and as soon as he found out they didn’t have a warrant, he slammed the door in their faces.
Meanwhile, back in the Honda . . .
My husband only dresses like a psychopath. Really. (photo via imdb.com)
Tom rolls down the window and the cop asks for his license and insurance card, which he hands over without hesitation. The cop gives a cursory look at the license and then asks Tom to step out of the car. Tom and I are stunned by this request. Why would the cop want him out of the car? Was it because we had an out of state license plate? Was there an APB out for a 1992 black Honda Civic hatchback with a missing hubcap? Was it because Tom was dressed exactly like Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski? Tom asks if there is a problem, but the cop just repeats the request to exit the vehicle.
Tom places both of his hands on the steering wheel and calmly says, “Officer, for your safety and mine, I need to tell you that I am carrying a concealed weapon.”
The cop takes a step back and his hand goes to his holster. He doesn’t draw his gun, but you can tell that he is just itching for an excuse to do so. His voice a little shaky, he orders Tom to raise his hands, get out and walk to the back of the car. The cop also says something along the lines of, “Why are you carrying a gun in MY state, boy?” I start to get a little worried.
The cop follows Tom behind our car and asks where he is concealing his gun. Tom, hands still raised, uses one finger to point to his right hip. The cop moves Tom’s vest aside to see the .40 caliber Glock inside my husband’s shorts. The cop tries to remove the gun from its holster, but it won’t budge. This particular holster was an inside the waistband type, which keeps it very snug against the wearer. From his angle, the cop can’t easily free the gun. Being the highly trained public servant that he is, the cop proceeds to yank on it with both hands. Tom wants to help, but he’s afraid of what the nervous cop will do if he lowers his hands. However, he is also afraid that if he doesn’t help, the cop will shoot him in the ass with his own gun.
I see all this happening from inside the car and because I can’t hear what the officer is saying, I assume the worst. Aware that there is a Ruger .357 magnum under my seat, I briefly contemplate a Bonnie and Clyde type situation. I hadn’t anticipated a gunfight with Louisiana’s finest on my honeymoon, but I hadn’t actually ever anticipated getting married in the first place, so this all was new territory for me.
Tom eventually convinces the cop to remove the whole holster. The cop does and, to keep his hands free, shoves the holstered gun down the front of his pants. Gun safety, folks. Learn it.
There is a heated discussion wherein the cop tells Tom that he can’t carry a concealed weapon in HIS state and Tom tries to explain that Louisiana recognizes Georgia’s concealed carry laws. In the end, the cop lets Tom leave with his gun and a speeding ticket.
A couple hours later, Tom and I have unpacked our luggage in our Garden District hotel room and decide to go out on the town for some dinner. We walk out the front door of our hotel and the first thing we see are police cars. We both freeze. Up and down the block cops are walking around, some of them leading German Shepherds. On the roof of the building across the street are more cops with long rifles.
I whisper to Tom, “Are you carrying your gun?”
He answers, “Of course I am.”
For a brief moment, I think about stepping back into the hotel lobby, but then I realize how suspicious that would look. Tom takes my hand and we walk, ever so slowly, down the street to where a trolly car is waiting. We board the car and take our seats. No one stops us. The trolly moves down the track and we both finally breathe.
We found out later that the then Vice President, Al Gore, had a speaking engagement at the convention center right across the street from our hotel. Security was beefed up for his visit, but luckily, we looked like a normal couple and not gun-totin’ weirdos, so we were never stopped.
We ended up having a wonderful, relaxing honeymoon in New Orleans. We ate tons of great food, wandered around the French Quarter and went on a swamp tour where I got to hold a baby alligator.
Never did pay that speeding ticket.