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Al Capone of the Yoga Mat

Second Amendment joys: Only in the United States could an exercise mat be mistaken for a gun.

May 17, 2014

Rifle case — or hiding a yoga mat?

As a springtime gift to myself, I bought a bright green cover for my yoga mat to sling over my shoulder. Conically shaped and easily tucked under the shoulder, it’s about 25 inches long (64 cm) and 15 inches (38 cm) round.

With it, I can jauntily hoof it the half-mile to the yoga studio where I submit myself to the torture of Pilates and yoga at least twice a week. The bag puts a spring in my step as I go forth to conquer the aches and pains of Boomer arthritis.

Yet something about the United States recently spoiled this idyllic picture. After Pilates, I decided to walk about 50 yards to the corner Citibank branch to get some cash. As I approached the corner, I noticed the Dunbar Armored vehicle with its motors running.

Hardened by the gun culture

Being an American hardened by the United States’ gun culture, I actually thought to myself, “Woops, maybe I should wait until they are finished. After all, they might think I have an AK-47 in that yoga pouch.”

Silly thought, I said to myself. Probably been watching too much “House of Cards.” This is not the movies – this is just my suburb!

So I went toward the door of the bank, trying to look as innocent as possible – and definitely not like Patty Hearst or Al Capone preparing to empty the vaults at gunpoint. Unfortunately, I know my culture all too well: the Dunbar guard, exiting with a big heavy bag of cash, came to a halt, looking startled at me and my “concealed” mat!

Then the bank manager, with whom I have passed pleasantries in the past, furrowed his brow and looked at my yoga mat. Poor fellow – I know he is originally from Spain, but he has evidently become just as cynical as my initial train of thought, after living in our gun culture for a while.

An “exceptional” country?

I deemed it advisable to move slowly and coolly – sideways – toward the automatic tellers on the sidewall of the room. I reached for my ATM card. At that point, the guard hightailed it out of the bank – and the manager went back to his desk.

Obviously relieved, he sat at his desk and looked down. One of his colleagues, a young woman with a strong accent and dressed to a tee, smiled and asked me if I did yoga. Yes, I replied, pointing to the opposite corner of the block where the well-know yoga studio sits.

Aren’t we an “exceptional” country? A mere fitness aficionado, I was momentarily suspected of packing “heat” inside my yoga mat cover!

But hey, that’s no more strange than a country that manages to twist a constitutional provision intended to strengthen 18th century local militias for the common defense into a modern individual’s right to bear military-grade arms at all times. How perverse.


Being an American hardened by the US gun culture, I actually asked myself if I looked like a bank robber.

The Dunbar guard, exiting with a big heavy bag of cash, came to a halt, looking startled at me.

The country twists a provision on 18th century local militias into a modern individual’s right to bear military guns.