As one gets along in years, and comes to the realization that one’s time on Earth is not only limited, but foreseeable in terms of its ending, certain idle thoughts come to mind. In my case, of course, this resolves itself inevitably into a list — in this case, loosely defined as follows:
Assuming that my health would remain more or less as it is, what would be the things I would get now that would last me the rest of my life, and give me pleasure in the use thereof?
For the sake of argument, let me also assume that I’d pare down all the crap I currently possess — sell almost all of it, really — and would have only the things on this list to keep me amused. Unlike my normal flights of fantasy, this would not involve a lottery win, so economics will play a part. It’s a tough question to answer, but I’ll give it a shot, so to speak, and start with the easiest ones.
Car — almost without question, the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF:
…because it combines fun, performance, fuel economy and reliability in equal measure and compromise. As for space, the only cargo [sic] I’d carry would be New Wife, or my guns to the range, or groceries back from the supermarket, and for the latter two, even the Miata’s little trunk would be adequate (long-gun cases could be carried in the front). The top comes down for the occasional en plein air experience, and I would be perfectly happy to tour the country in it as well. Color is irrelevant, although I kinda like the gunmetal blue as pictured, for obvious reasons. And speaking of gunmetal:
Rifle — it’s a tough one, but to me the Miata of rifles is the Marlin 336 in .30-30 (with a scope because of my shitty eyesight):
Light, handy, reliable, enough punch for most situations, acceptable recoil and the ammo is pretty much ubiquitous in the U.S.A. Realistically, I’m never going to have to make any long shots, and the lever action works quickly enough for those (shall we say) social occasions.
Plinker Rifle — this is an even tougher choice, but I’d choose the Ruger 10-22:
I don’t think I need to explain or justify this choice, do I?
Now on to the handguns:
Self-defense — no choice; my Springfield 1911 in .45 ACP:
Once again, no explanation is necessary.
Revolver — this is a little more difficult, but I think I’d pick the (new) Colt Python 6″ in .357 Mag:
Why the new one? Why not? It’s new, it’s a Python, and every gunsmith I’ve spoken to on the topic says the action is far better than the old one’s, and will likely be more reliable. Of course, I’d prefer it in Colt’s original Royal Blue, but them’s the breaks.
Plinker Handgun — easy enough choice, here: the Browning Buckmark:
Best trigger of any .22 handgun (possibly of any handgun, period), and very reliable. I’ve owned several, and never had a bad experience with any of them. We’re talking hours and hours of plinking fun.
Finally on guns, a shotgun, mostly for clays — I’m going to go with something a little more indulgent, i.e. the Chapuis Chasseur Classic in 20ga:
It’s different enough — not part of the Beretta / Browning / Remington / Winchester matrix, and not insanely priced like the premiums — and of course the side-by-side barrels are mandatory. (I have a 20ga SxS already, but I keep it at Free Market Towers, for obvious reasons. The Chapuis would be my domestic gun.)
That’s enough guns. On to other stuff.
Camera — I’ve done the large SLR thing, and I don’t need that anymore. My current criteria, based on years of travel, are that the camera be small enough to fit into a coat pocket, and must take AA batteries. Hence, the Canon Powershot SX100 IS:
I’ve owned this little sucker for well over a decade, and have no quibbles — except that when shooting in low-light situations, you absolutely have to pop it onto a tripod because its lens stabilization is not that great. Fortunately, I have a mini tripod which travels with the Canon, and fits into the other coat pocket. (My backup camera — a Nikon Coolpix 4300 — is much better in this regard, but it only takes Nikon’s rechargeable battery which means you have to be close to a power source to recharge it — the reason I replaced it with the Canon. Like .30-30 and .22 LR, AA batteries are ubiquitous.)
Books — I couldn’t trim my library down any more than I already have, and it’s creeping up again (to the consternation of New Wife, who reminds me constantly that we barely have enough room extant). Still, I intend to read and re-read several non-classic books for the rest of my life, most notably John Sandford’s Prey and Virgil Flowers novels, as well as any derivatives thereof. Also P.G. Wodehouse, of whose works I have many, and various Ken Follett novels as well. It’s all about the style when it comes to novels, and I love all the above in equal measure. Of non-fiction — history — books we shall not speak.
Binoculars — I don’t use them often, but I always travel with a pair, this being my Steiner AX830 (8×30):
…and while these do okay, especially for their size, I really need something a little more powerful (10x or more, with a tripod mount if necessary, because size is not really a problem). All suggestions are welcome.
Watch — for me, the thought of having only one watch is akin to having only one gun: almost a fate worse than death, but if I’m going to have a couple of watches to see out my shift, they’re not going to be automatic, nor need batteries. Hence, the Longines Master and the Tissot Heritage (depending on whether I need a black- or white face):
Nice big numbers to accommodate my (did I already say?) crappy eyes. The Longines is twice the price of the Tissot, but still under the magic $1,000 mark. Both are wonderfully rugged and acceptably accurate.
Music — forget about it. My music library is quite adequate, not to say extensive, and unless I were forced to sell all of it, I could see my days out with the collected works of Valentina Lisitsa and Genesis (and maybe my Beatles boxed set).
I’m trying to think of what else qualifies under the question at the top, but other than perhaps knives (of which I have many, and just can’t think of any I’d even think of buying today), none come to mind.
As with all exercises of this genre, feel free to participate in Comments. I look forward to your thoughts, as always.