Friday, June 23, 2006

A moment in time

There are some moments in life that are just flat out Kewl, and completely un-reproducable. They are evidence of the devine, or, just plain ass good luck. Either, or, they stand out in memory.

I was in the Army once. But before I joined, I had this experience. Because of an entire day spent immersed in my usual mad activities with a friend that (in this instance) involved dismantling the entire dashboard of a Ford Escort to hook up a radio that was never meant to be part of that car in any way shape or form, I realized I didn’t have any resident radio skills. That was very evident when, after getting the radio to work that night, the entire dash assembly ceased to function. I had to drive at night with a flashlight handy to tell how fast I was going. Anyway: there I am months later, with a recruiter doing his damndest to talk me into going to Fort Devons for code training. It was those asvab scores, really made the guy hot and bothered. For those of you who don’t know, Fort Devons is outside of Boston by about an hour or so, and it is really cold in the winter. AND: learning code doesn’t teach you correct installation of radios.

I said to the guy: “Look, learning to spy and catch spies via codemaking and breaking is all well and good, but I really need to learn something useful, and learn it somewhere warm.” He offered me Fort Sam, LPN training. I was planning to go to nursing school, so this was too much of a busman’s holiday. Exasperated, he points to door number three and offers me 31 Kilo: Combat Signaler, in Georgia. Nice, warm, peachy Georgia. And signalers work with radios. Give me door number three, I said, and I signed the book. Now why I wanted warmth I’ll never know because I love winter, but hey, I was young so who the hell knows what was running through my brain at that moment (or not running as the case may be).

Anyway: this MOS (military occupational specialty) doesn’t really attract many women. And it does NOT teach you how to dismantle the standard radio in the Ford Escort and install a non standard radio that was never designed to fit that car. So I wind up in Georgia learning more top secret stuff, with a ton of guys. Yep. There were about 10 females in this building of 5 platoons. So we trained at the pace of the guys, forget slowing down for us women folk. And you had to at least keep up. Which I did because I’m a stubborn one.

Anyway: the guys get there thinking all chicks want to get out of shit and are not tough. So one day when we have to do push ups for the number of questions we get wrong on this oral exam + what ever the staff sergeant multiplies them by and I bang out 58 without batting an eye lash or breaking a nail (and I turn down the offer to quit at 25 because I’d shown heart) my guys get a different opinion of females. Now I’m one of them. Which sucks, because now I need to LIVE up to that.

Time passes, and I’m on my way to meet a girlfriend at this rec hall place. I pass a bunch of my squad (yes, because I’m type A I wind up as a squad leader), and they’re racking up to shoot some stick. They ask me to break. I say only if I can play. Sure, no problem. Lots of snickers. I think: gee – other than partying I spent most of high school shooting pool on full sized tables in a dive called Julian’s. (lower east side of Manhattan). You red neck tobacco chewing commo pukes have no clue who you’re dealing with.

I rack. I break. I clear the table. All while wearing a mini-skirt and thigh high boots. It was a small, bar room sized table, so it was mildly challenging. I’d not picked up a stick, or a game, in several years, but when I heard the snickering, and saw the looks they passed between them, I sucked it up, pulled out my A game, and brought it home. Needless to say, the boys were impressed. And floored.

That was a good moment. A very good moment.

Is it any wonder, then, when I got the first tattoo, the rest of 5th platoon followed suit? An even better moment was the next week, when the head Drill told the entire building during formation that we would give blood to a blood drive, and 5th platoon’s guide announced to our drill sergeant we couldn’t. Then supplied him with the reason: we all got tattooed. And there are some very scary stories around the tattoo festival – but leave those for another time.

I fell that way about this latest book: this is A game shit. Rock hard, rock steady, roll easy. And I wonder the way I did about playing a second game: can it be as good?

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