Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Getting to know me, getting to know all about me...

R asked me a question last week and I’ve been meaning to blog my response, but those fascist jerks at the office have been demanding some actual work in exchange for my paycheck. How barbaric is that? It’s like living in the middle ages. Anyway, R asked “How do you feel about your military service? Since you are very rarely serious, it's hard to tell.”

One thing you should know about me is that, even when I’m kidding, I'm being serious. All my so-called humor springs from my darker side. The frustration and desire to commit carnage are really there, although I haven’t actually been on any Random Killing Sprees™ (as far as you know). I really am strongly attracted to my dentist, but I don’t plan on staging any suicide scenes a la 7:35 in the Morning (as far as you know). You see, as a published writer I’m allowed to exaggerate for humorous intent. When I do that, it’s a literary device called hyperbole. When you do it, it’s an outright fecking lie.

I once wrote an essay in the eighth grade about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I wanted to be a mafia hitman. It was written humorously enough that I was not sent to the principal’s office (or juvie hall), but I meant what I said. I really wanted to be paid to kill people. I think John Cusack said it best in Grosse Pointe Blank when he was practicing for his high school reunion in front of the mirror:

Martin Q. Blank
“I’m Martin Blank, you remember me? I’m not married, I don’t have any kids, and I’d blow your head off if someone paid me enough."

That almost sums it up for me. The missing part is that I wouldn’t blow your head off as long as there was a chance of going to jail over the matter. I like money and the brief pleasure of killing appeals to me, but you (where you = any random entity that don’t know nothin’ about nothin’) are not worth going to prison over and spending the rest of my life in a cell getting penile-kancho’d by my state-assigned roommate. You see? The system does work.

When it came time to seriously decide on a career, I took stock of matters and looked for a match between society’s needs and my predilections. I knew I wanted to have access to deadly weaponry, to blow stuff up, to kill and maim, and maybe do a little traveling on the side, but I didn’t have any mafia contacts so the hitman angle was out. Besides, those guys kept getting busted and hauled before Congress to testify, which had little appeal for me. So, what’s a healthy growing boy to do? I looked deep within myself for other skills I had to offer and I realized I look good in green (also purple, fyi). Besides, it wasn’t long after the summer of Rambo and Sly made it all look fun so I signed up for the Army infantry. I really wanted the airborne infantry, but I fell prey to one of the classic recruiter lies and thought I could volunteer for that once I was in. Actually, I really wanted the Special forces, but that was way out of my reach.

Note - this post isn’t really about my army days, so I won’t include any anecdotes at this time. Sample tales of what I did are here and here. I’ll get back to the original question, which is about how I feel about my military service.

And how do I feel about it? I don’t. I’m not proud of it, nor am I ashamed. It’s like having brown hair – it’s just there. I never did anything I regret, except a few times involving bazooka barfing and passing out, and even those memories are good for laughs. Likewise, I never did anything that makes me feel proud, except for gluing my boots to the platoon sergeant’s desk and tying the battalion’s record for best marksman with the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW).

Squad Automatic Weapon - SAW

I have to admit, I liked hearing people point me out and say “There goes our best man with the SAW.” Naturally, I pretended they were talking about my skills with a chainsaw and hockey mask, but whatever is cool.

I left after my four year stint because the military is not a job or an adventure, it’s a completely different society, and not a free one at that. Justice is often handed down by your leaders instead of a jury of your peers, and those leaders are appointed rather than elected. As for being paid to kill and blow stuff up, I got to fire a lot of rounds but I spent a lot more time waiting for orders. The one firefight I got into (not counting coming under friendly fire) was one-sided because, by the time our leaders decided it was okay to return fire, the enemy had already run away. Just as I wouldn’t fancy going to jail for blowing your head off, I didn’t care to go to the stockade for killing the enemy without permission. And before you start leaving comments saying “I would have had to fire back – that’s just how I am,” entertain the notion that maybe you don’t fully understand because you weren’t there. You might have a point if it was just me, but I was with a group of about eighty guys, none of whom fired a single shot.

I don’t know if that actually clarified anything, but there it is. Yes, I’m kidding. Yes, I meant everything I said.


Melissa said...

Some things require a certain level of "moral flexibility", that's the line your average fella can't cross. Then there are some that see no line at all...

Valkyrie said...

I thought about what a bullet hole would look like on particular people quite frequently in high school. If I had been a different kind of person....

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

You're one complicated guy, Grant. I believe you, but then again, I don't. ;)

Honestly, I often thought, if I had to do it all over again, I'd join the Army or the Air Force. Who knows where I'd be right now or what I would've learned?

Joe said...

You're kidding!

Interesting point of view, Grant. I've always wondered why people ask those questions about military service, but almost nothing else. For example, nobody has ever asked me "how do you feel about the time you spend working in maintenence at the local supermarket?"

Valkyrie said...

I've had other friends in the Army and Air Force. I like reading about different experiences.

I have one friend who was discovered to be gay and told not to come back from leave by someone who had more rank. (He got into trouble for it later on. Not as much as he could have, though. I guess they didn't want gays even in military prison. Thank goodness.)

Grant said...

melissa - I see the line, but it doesn't interest me.

r - you could have been the original Trenchcoat Mafia.

pq - yes, I can't imagine making it through life without my advanced foxhole-digging skills.

joe - I think most civilians view military service as a calling instead of just a job where you get to kill people.

r again - I've never understood why gays would want to join a close-minded organization like the military anyway, unless they were like me and didn't know or consider the negative side.

Liz said...

That’s odd, I’m the exact opposite. Even when I’m serious, I’m always kidding.

My understanding of the military is you do what they tell you, when they tell you, period. Sounds life a rough existence for someone who likes free will.

I think you should have some pride about it, for no other reason than to milk what you can out of people. Putting up with that existence should get some perks for the rest of your life, especially since in the end you are there protecting idiots like me.

Anonymous said...

Sooo... if you could kill without consequence, would you torture first or end one's life quick and painlessly?

That Girl

Grant said...

liz - okay, you've convinced me. I will pretend to be proud in order to exact sexual favors from women. :p

that girl - interesting question. If I had time and was feeling good (or really bad) and I didn't like the person involved, I think I'd go for extended torture and an ironic finish. Otherwise, I'd just make it quick and move on.

sands of time said...

That was interesting.Im not sure if your really that bad.Have to give some more thought as to that one.

april said...

I never wanted anyone dead until I dated this guy about 6 years ago who beat the shit out of me and kidnapped my son on foot for 4 hours. The fucked up part of that situation (other than he took my son) is that I ended up getting arrested too because they couldn't determine who was the victim and who was the aggressor. Yeah, I went down swinging. (charges were dropped)

Since then I have visioned physically torturing one other person, and quite often. I have lost my temper with that person several times which is why I suggest that a golf club should not be grabbed when provoked by an asshole. I speak from personal experience.

By the way, a 7 iron will not only hit a golf ball, but shatter a windshield. ;)

Grant said...

pink lady - thanks for stopping by to judge. :p

april - I may have to take up golf. Before I always viewed it as a sissy sport. I didn't consider the potential for violence.

AVA said...

Hmmm... interesting. Only I don't quite know what to say. Interesting, though ;)

Libélula said...

I always get a kick out of reading your Blog, Grant...just out of curiosity: what method(s) of torture would you use???

Anonymous said...

So is this a completely random desire or are your friends and possible future wife and kids safe from such ideas?

That Girl

Grant said...

ava - can't think of what to say? How about "Oh, Grant, I love you. Please take my money." That always works for me.

libelula - I'd try to custom fit the torture to the victim to give it an ironic slant, but in general I think I'd go for tying them up in the basement and challenging myself to see how long I could keep them alive while working on them. You know, sever a body part with a power tool, cauterize the wound, dance around and taunt them, that sort of thing.

that girl - my dark side is always there, but it doesn't define me. Remember, to have a dark side you have to have a good side as well. I haven't killed any family or friends (that you know of) so far, so the future Mrs. Psycho should be fine as long as she doesn't hack me off.

Valkyrie said...

Grant, I knew there was some underlying truth to your 'humor', I just didn't know how much. I think I didn't write that sentence as concisely as I should've.

As far as I know, I can still differentiate between reality and fantasy. I'm neurotic, not crazy.

Have a good (or in your case would bad be good?) day.

Toad734 said...

Sounds like Jarhead.