I recently went to the theater to watch No Time to Die, the most recent James Bond action movie. It is not my favorite, but it reveals plans for a new 007 agent in the future. You can search the Internet for speculation on who will replace Daniel Craig, if you’re interested. My only purpose for mentioning the movie was to create a logical segue for this personal story from over twenty years ago.
In 1997 I moved from California to Austin, Texas to begin a new job as a technical trainer for a cutting-edge software company. Within months I went from low man on the totem pole to senior instructor because several of the other instructors decided to leave the company. One of the instructors working with me was a very talented Australian woman in her early twenties. She was intelligent, beautiful, and friendly, but somewhat out of place in Texas. She was adamantly anti-gun, but I was very fond of her anyway. We could go to lunch and debate the issue vociferously… and return to work without our political differences affecting our friendship. That is one of the signs of intelligence.
My friend was distressed by the fact that she was getting old. She was about to turn twenty-five! In an effort to cheer herself up she decided to throw herself a themed birthday party. The theme was James Bond, and everyone was supposed to dress as their favorite Bond character. I was invited, of course, but this aging beauty kept requesting that I come to the party dressed as James Bond. I resisted for many days, explaining that I would have to spend considerable money to rent a tuxedo for the occasion. Finally, I offered her a compromise. I told her that I would come dressed as James Bond, but… I would come “dressed as James Bond”. I never clarified what that meant, but the look on her face suggested that she understood completely.
I rented the tux. At that age I was young enough that I could still clean up nicely. However, I had created a minor dilemma for myself. I didn’t want to make my hostess or her guests nervous with a loaded weapon, but I have always felt that carrying an unloaded pistol is more dangerous than being without. If someone sees the gun they will naturally assume that it is loaded, and if they take aggressive action, you are unable to defend yourself. I decided that I would wear my “fancy” stainless steel .45 unloaded in my shoulder holster. However, to prevent the possibility of someone walking off with my gun, I placed my “ordinary” black .45 in a holster at the small of my back, fully “cocked, locked, and loaded”. As I left for the party, I was suave, debonair, and heavily armed.
I knocked on the door and presented my hostess with a dozen yellow roses, welcoming her to Texas the best way I knew how. After a big hug and a kiss I discovered I was the first person at the party. Others began arriving, and everyone knew immediately who I was supposed to be. Sadly, I look more like Pierce Brosnan than Sean Connery. Brosnan is a good looking guy, but in my mind, Sean Connery is the only “real” James Bond. Unfortunately, I was the only one who came dressed as a Bond character, which made me stand out from the crowd more than I expected. Several hours later it was time to leave. I went to the kitchen to kiss my hostess again, and say goodbye for the evening. As she hugged me she looked at me suddenly and said, “You forgot to bring your gun!”. I smiled and responded, “Sweetheart… that’s why they call it a concealed weapon.” Still smiling, and with eyebrow raised in classic Connery fashion, I reached under the jacket and retrieved my stainless .45. Everyone in the apartment took a collective GASP, and held their breaths.
Rarely have I managed to be the center of attention like I was in that moment. I removed the magazine to show that it was empty, and locked the slide back to show that there wasn’t a bullet in the chamber. Everyone started to breathe again. And then… the question. “Is that a real gun?!”
After my final good byes, I headed for my beautiful, sleek, Pontiac Trans Am GTA, with a $12,000 rebuilt racing engine, and a $1,800 racing transmission. I was wearing a tux and had two powerful handguns on my body. I smiled, knowing – this is how James Bond feels every day.