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Saturday, September 08, 2007

We were young once...and soldiers.

I don't want to be a soldier anymore. While this might be the most noodle-twitchingly obvious sentiment in the world to you it comes as somewhat of a shock to me for as a child growing up, that is all i wanted to be. We had toy soldiers, GI Joe's and an arsenal of plastic guns in the shed. We wore camoflage long before it was fashionable. Our favorite shows were Rat Patrol and any WWII movie that happened to be on. Star Wars wasn't our favorite because of the Star, but because of the Wars. Even Japanese Anime first caught my attention because of Star Blazers; a ship of soldier/sailors running off in a last ditch mission to save the world. My buddy Panzer and i memorized military hardware and battles,argued over tactics, went out and bought Axis and Allies as soon as we discovered it's existance. We looked up every time we heard a jet and drew enough battle machines and war scenes to fill the Library of Congress. Oh those poor trees.

You know those little aptitude tests they gave you which were designed to help you find a goal for your life and pursue it? A sluagh of questions that were just about your likes and dislikes; would you prefer to work outside or inside? What are your hobbies? What phrase most describes you: a. i like to lead, b. i prefer to be told what to do, c. people suck, i prefer to work alone, or d. work?

i used to flunk those. Yeah, i know, you can't flunk them, they're not being graded. Well, believe it sister, i flunked 'em. Everyone would be eagerly reading and comparing what three choices the computer had spat back at them based upon the numeric data that represented their souls and the teacher would come over to me and say something along the lines of, "Yours didn't turn out. You filled out the questions wrong. Did you not understand how this worked? In one place you said you wanted to work outside and over here you talk about working at a desk? You can't do both? Which do you prefer?" i'd snifflingly explain that i loved to draw so i figured that had to be at a desk, but i hated being inside and loved the outdoors, the more wild the better. She would shake her head as if i was somehow a strange little bone that didn't fit her theory of evolution but a bone that she couldn't ignore and was messing up her thesis and then she'd ask, "well, what do you want to be when you grow up?" And i'd invariably answer, "i dunno. i'll probably just go in the army." i can still see her shaking her head with that pursed little grimace.

Coincidentally, i am writing this from my laptop on the deck overlooking my rather woodsy backyard where as we digitally converse, a red tail hawk is preening itself not twenty feet away. And if i wanted to, i could get a cellular card for this puppy and write to you from the back country of Hardtaggithere, Montana! i wasn't backwards, Mrs. Clewliss, i was ahead of the technology! So pblpblat!

It was true, i didn't know what i wanted to do with my life but the military always beckoned. It seemed like the only sure bet. And when highschool started winding to it's inevitably longed-for yet somehow disappointing end, i started realizing that i had to do something about whatever it was i was going to do when no one was telling me what to do anymore. And turning my life over to people who would tell me what to do again seemed to make sense, particularly if they would give me a gun to carry.

Now, i grew up the sailor's son of a soldier's son of a soldier's son. i had no delusions about military service. i'd seen it. Heck, i went to sea with my dad for a week when i was twelve. i had seen the chiseled jarheads that guarded the ship and i had talked to the greasy line cooks. Both had once been wide-eyed kids who had enlisted in military service but somewhere along the line their paths diverged. And i figured the only way i was going to get to wield a rifle instead of a spatula was if i joined the most elite force i could. So i set my sights on the marines. Figuring, they're smaller so the soldier to line cook ratio was probably better to start with and they had really, really high standards still whereas the army was beginning it's trend of watering itself down in order to meet some sort of meat quota. My mom would be holy disappointed if i didn't go to college so i tried to get in on an ROTC type scholarship. They send me to school and when i'm done, i sign up as an officer for the rest of whatever. Well, the school rejected me. Apparently you have to have good grades and stuff for that. Who knew?

So, sorry mom, i tried and now there's nothing left to do but enlist. So i signed up. Aced my ASVABs which hauntingly reminded me of aptitude tests. Sailed through the physical. Told the recruiter i wanted to be a line soldier. "You don't want to learn electronics or some other trade related skill that you can barter into a career when you get out?" He asked, probably with the results of my ASVAB in his hands. Nope. Unless the Marines start driving tanks. That looks cool. So he shook his head like i was some sort of thesis on evolution that didn't come with pictures and was too long to read for him and filled out my paperwork. Barring the medical, i was in. i was a marine.

Turns out that the marines won't take you if you've had a major head injury in the last five years. Who knew?

So, wiser about what to admit to and what to gloss over i started talking to the Army.

After two pointless conversations with the same Pennslobvian State Trooper, a speeding ticket and an I.O.U. for twenty-five cents to the state of New Jersey all on the way to take some sort of entrance exam for the Army, i decided that i flat out wasn't meant to be a soldier.

Life happened after that, as did time. My little brother joined the marines, made Marksman, got made an airplane mechanic and went off to the Persian Gulf, twice. i'm glad he is a mechanic, he's much safer that way and my three adorable little nieces still have their daddy. All my friends that wished they had been soldiers too still play Axis and Allies every now and then. They almost always kick my butt, i have the strategizing capabilites of a dollop of mashed potatoes. We all got too old to play 'guns.'

And then we discovered paintball.

1 comment:

Mynk said...

I thank the Lord all the time that the Marines were stupid enough to not want you, because I so much did!! Their loss.