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While still on the train back to Chicago I invite Blair over for dinner. The plan is to make a pot roast with the leftover turkey my mother has sent me home with, and Blair says she’ll bring a bottle of red over with her. I’m excited to prepare the roast most of the train ride home.
I’ve shot skeet only a handful of times and I’m not good at it, but after getting off of the Amtrak in downtown Chicago I receive a last minute invitation from my cousin to go to a North Shore country club to shoot. As much as I love pot roast and hanging out with girls, shooting skeet is something that I don’t get to do very often and so I tell Blair I’m going to have to audible out of our plans and tell her I’ll just call her when I’m done.
My cousin is a member at this club, and while I’m slightly peeved that I didn’t get a single invite to golf this past summer, I accept his summons and an hour later I’m drinking coffee under a heated awning and watching old white guys get kill after kill after kill and I’m starting to clam up at the thought of these aces watching my dumbass go out there and it give it a whirl.
The high house is tossing out clays that reach fifteen to twenty feet at their peak. The low house is sending them from a stand only four or five feet off of the ground, yet the clays are reaching that same peak height of about fifteen to twenty feet. I’m mesmerized watching the clays flutter through the air and get broken into a million teeny tiny pieces.
Shooting skeet isn’t unlike your first tee shot on a golf course. There’s always a small gallery if you’re golfing at a course on a Saturday afternoon. You’ve usually got a few groups and a ranger watching you from beind, and all you want to do is pipe one down the middle of the fairway. You get that same nervous energy when you’re shooting clays. There’s a bunch of dudes with cigars hanging from their mouths watching you, judging you silently. I get anxious as I get out of my chair to retrieve the shotgun my cousin was just using.
The barrel is long and intimidating. Nervous jitters and shooting skeet do not go hand in hand and I know I’m going to miss before I even step up to shoot. I try not to think about the damage that a shotgun can do as a club employee loads the gun for me. I think about Dick Cheney and that incident he had while hunting quail. I try my best to clear my head as I shout “PULL!” but I miss badly on my first go around because I’m still thinking about the former vice president of the United States.
I send Blair a picture of the range via Instagram because I think that she thinks I lied to her. She sends me a message back saying “This doesn’t look like more fun than hanging out with me” and I put my phone back in my pocket without responding because that statement couldn’t be further from the truth. This is the most fun I’ve had in weeks and like I said, I’m not even good at this.
The ground underneath my Bean Boots is soft from the industrial heaters that the country club has placed out on the range. In the distance I can see an aerated putting green – I think we’re standing on what would be a short Par 4 in the spring or summer.
I spend the next hour and a half shooting clays, but then I go back to my cousins house for several drinks and by the time I’m back at my apartment it’s close to 7:00 p.m. I don’t feel bad at all about bailing on my plans with Blair and I start to wonder if I’m a bad person.
I text Blair after I take a hot shower and she says she’ll come by despite the fact that I won’t be making that pot roast I promised her. I tell her this is like shooting skeet in a barrel and she doesn’t understand the joke. I smile and try to make my apartment look as presentable as possible for her impending arrival..