I felt like I had hit the jackpot. Suddenly, I was reaping the benefits of small town life while having almost immediate access to an amenity usually only found in some progressive urban area.
I quickly became addicted to this bakery's fresh scones. Those scones are "to die for." Warm and buttery, they came in all kinds of flavors - chocolate espresso, sweet potato ginger, cranberry walnut. Asking me to choose a favorite would be like asking a mother to choose her favorite child. I loved them all for different reasons. Typically, my favorite flavor was whichever one was in my hand.
Like any good junkie, I needed a daily fix. I began to view this cozy corner bakery as my dealer, dishing out the only thing that could calm my intense desire for buttery scone goodness. That corner bakery was my dope peddler, and I was more than happy to dish out my hard-earned dough to purchase their deliciously flaky dough.
I am not ashamed to admit I am addicted to scones. Some people might call me nutty.
Some people might also call me a gun nut. I grew up around firearms, support the Second Amendment (Although I equally support the other amendments. "All Amendments Matter" is my motto), and am more than proficient when it comes to shooting.
I also regularly carry a firearm. Not because I think it makes me macho, or because I want to make a statement, or because I think it is a great accessory to my outfit. I carry because I want to be able to protect myself and my family. Period.
We initially moved to a small town because the low crime rate was incredibly attractive. We live in a "good" neighborhood in a statistically safe county. However, in recent months, we've seen a surge in gun crimes. A few weeks ago, a shooting occurred in the church yard right next door to our home. A few weeks before that, shots were fired at the house across the street from us, breaking our neighbor's living room window.
It has started to feel like we are caught in some inner city cross fire, only without the traffic or urban decay. I still contend, however, that we live in a "good" neighborhood. The problem is our "good" neighborhood backs up to a "bad" one and individuals are starting to cross those invisible boundaries.
Recently, two young men verbally threatened me with violence. I was simply walking in the neighborhood, minding my own business (an anomaly in a small town), and enjoying the warm weather. Two strange men crossed the street toward me, and as they approached, one yelled "BANG!"
Then the other threatened, "You're dead, Bitch."
The two of them walked past me, traveling on down the street. Both of them were doubled over, laughing hysterically at my expense.
Not my idea of fun, but I truly believe these two young people were only trying to frighten me for some twisted sadistic amusement. I am not one to take chances. That is why I carry a firearm. Luck favors the prepared, after all.
Back to the scones...
One recent Saturday, my family and I wandered up to the neighborhood bakery to stock up on some of those addictive pastries. We bought giant cookies for the girls and beautiful scones for me.
We had a pleasant exchange with the staff, smiling and making light of my very real scone problem. We talked about the weather. My husband used his teacher discount. While there, we even chatted amiably with another customer.
The whole visit was like something out of an old episode of Andy Griffith. If it had transpired in black and white, I would have been convinced we'd been lost in Mayberry. The entire encounter had been polite and charming and uncommonly neighborly. We were simply a happy family buying baked goods from a local business, coexisting in harmony and friendship and intense community. It was rather lovely.
We had been carrying our sidearms that day, because some of our other neighbors are not quite so congenial. But we had noticed another customer big time eyeing my husband's handgun while we purchased our bread products. For that patron, I suppose the sight of our weapons had somehow smashed our image of friendly, neighborhood, nuclear family.
When the bakery reopened after the weekend, there was a sign plastered to the front door.
I thought, "Well, this is new."
I couldn't help but wonder if this was in direct response to the weapons we had carried (without ill intent) into the establishment on our most recent bakery run. And because I am an individual with a rampant imagination, I worry there was a highly negative conversation after we departed with our pastries. It would have been a conversation we weren't privy to, one that painted my family as nefarious, my husband and I as monstrous and depraved. Even though we were friendly, chipper, and polite. We even held the door open for a sweet little old lady as we left and wished everyone a good day.
While I hope that the new signage had nothing to do with me or my family, I'm skeptical. The timing is just too coincidental.
Now, to set the record straight, I sincerely respect the rights of this business owner to declare his place of business a gun free zone. Have at it. This is (at least for the time being) a free country. I'm all about freedom. If that is how you want to operate your business, if guns are so evil and scary that you don't even want to see them in the hands of good people, you have the right to make sure they never enter your bakery. (No guarantees on the ones that might be in the hands of bad people, though. Those people tend to do what they want. Signs be damned.)
As long as you don't refuse to bake any wedding cakes, you should be good to go.
However, I don't have to shop there. That's the great thing about freedom, right? All of us get to exercise it. And while there are many things I'm willing to lay down my life for, scones are not particularly high on the list. Even though they are incredibly tasty.
I'm not willing to disarm myself for baked goods I could theoretically make at home. Because, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center, 98.4 percent of mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones. Meanwhile, just 1.6 percent occurring where armed citizens are allowed. So when at all possible, I'm sticking to places that care about my safety rather than how uncomfortable someone might decide to feel about the presence of a simple inanimate object.
Pelting an armed robber with healthy wholegrain breads seems ineffective. Facing violence armed with nothing but a french baguette seems comical, cartoonish in fact.
And since I'm also walking through my questionable neighborhood to get to this gun-free utopia of wholesome baked bread, the same neighborhood where I was so recently threatened by passing strangers, I don't think I can feel completely safe shopping there.
Nope. I'll be making my own scones, feeding my own buttery, gluten-rich obsession, thank you. Because while the ones from the local bakery are admittedly delicious, and I did once describe them as "to die for," I don't really think I'm willing to do that.