Thursday, December 4, 2008
D-0: I am leaving Iraq
Unfortunately, I will be stuck in Kuwait for about 6 days, but that is one step closer to home.
Can you dig it?
Friday, November 21, 2008
D-10: Things are Getting Weird
Anyone who has ever served in the military knows this; bored men are their own worst enemy. With only 10 days left before I begin my journey home, and my duties nearly completely turned over to my relief, I took upon myself to gallantly drive this point home.
It started with someone telling a tale of a fight they once participated in, in which they learned what it felt like to get punched in the face. Due to the competitive nature of story-telling, the remaining four men in the room took turns telling their stories of pain. I contributed my timeless classic of getting pepper-sprayed machine-gun style by the State College P.D. in Beaver Canyon following the Nittany Lions’ defeat of Miami in 1999. I was counter by my friend Matt, who was twice tasered in the same night by a bouncer at a bar.
That story trumped us all, and we asked a myriad of question about the physical sensations of being tased. Obviously, one thing led to another, and I realized that I was in an Army infantry battalion and had access to virtually every weapon known to man. No sooner than my friend mentioned that his Platoon Sergeant once allowed his troops to tase him, did that very Sergeant walk in the door. I took this as fate, and without thinking (as is my custom), I asked “Hey, Sergeant P, you wanna tase me?”
Well, good old Sergeant P didn’t need much convincing; he said “why?”
I answered, “Because I want to know what it feels like.”
“I’ll go get my gun.”
I gathered up an audience and a video camera, and we staged some dirty mattresses and blankets around the front porch. My buddy Nate, like a good buddy ought to, decided that no one should be tased alone, and agreed to join me.
I wanted to go first, but as I was showing someone how to operate the camera, he stood in front of the mattresses and declared himself ready. I aimed the camera at him, and Sergeant P raised his weapon, and fired his first shot. Somehow, he missed, and the two barbs sailed over Nate’s shoulder, narrowly missing his neck (which would have been excruciating), and falling just short of hitting a spectator in the leg.
He reloaded, and his second shot hit Nate square in the back; he screamed and immediately fell backward with his body frozen, hands pinned to his sides, and chin tucked into his chest. Unfortunately, the soft mattress landing zone was in front of him, and he landed on the hard tile with a dull thud, his head just missing the door-jam of the open front door. Gasps of horror and roars of laughter filled the air.
Learning from Nate’s mistake, we re-arranged the mattresses, so that I had a landing pad both in front of me and behind me. With my back to Sergeant P, I stood in the middle; I was terrified.
I heard the loud electric pop of the gun just an instant before pain coursed through my entire body, my vision flashing white. Like Nate, I fell straight back, unlike Nate, I landed on a Mattress. My neck snapped as my head bounced, and Sergeant P shut the gun down and I was instantly relieved. I rolled around in pain, my whole body was sore from the combination of the tasing and the fall, and my back was screaming where the two fishhook-like barbs penetrated – about two inches left of my spine, half way up my back. I rolled over until I was on all fours, laughing and groaning, begging anyone to pull the barbs out.
Nate’s shot hit him right on the spine, which while extremely uncomfortable, at least prevented very deep penetration, allowing the barbs to be pulled out effortlessly. I was less fortunate, my shot landed in the meatiest part of my back, and the barbs buried themselves as deep as they would go. My friends yanked them out without much bedside manner, and I felt the blood trickle down my back as soon as I stood up.
That all took place about an hour ago, my back still hurts where it was pierced, my neck is a little bit sore, and I have a small headache. But I proved that I am extremely cool, and I have an awesome video to prove it. Totally worth it.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
D-26: A Wedding Story
The night before my wedding I shared a room with my cousin Matt, who was the best man, in a corner room on the fourth floor of the Radisson Hotel where the reception was going to be. The Radisson is a tall atrium style hotel, in which all the rooms on each floor are arranged in square around a large open space that overlooks the hotels picturesque lobby; so that by standing outside the door of the hotel room, you can lean over the rail and gawk at all the busy people far below and vice versa.
The days leading up to the wedding are a blur of activity, each capped off with an inordinate amount of irresponsible drinking. Thursday was a bachelor party in Atlantic City, followed Friday by the reception dinner and a long night of sitting at the bar with all my family and friends. Saturday was the big day; it began with picture taking, followed by a church wedding, during which my bride was scolded by the priest for the uninterrupted flow of chatter she was delivering while he was trying to conduct the service – a service which included an impromptu tirade against gay marriage, much to the chagrin of my wife’s lesbian bridesmaid – and highlighted by a lovely version of “I like to Move It” being performed (with several encore performances) by our 3 year old flower girl in the front pew.
The reception at the hotel was fantastic; everyone present agreed that it was the most fun wedding of all time. We had a kick-ass band and a ton of people, and my wife and I circuited the tables to greet all of our guests; a seemingly simple pleasantry, which in my mind would only take about five minutes. My timing was off, and it actually took about four hours, leaving my wife and me woefully below the median level of drunkenness in the room. Later in the evening, we would make an aggressive effort to close that gap.
With the band wrapping up and the bar closed, my Jewish groomsman was given the honor of one last dance with my new sister-in-law, which he gratefully accepted with both hands gripped firmly on her ass, presumably for balance, as neither one was having any luck standing up straight. This “touching” moment (get it?) was thankfully caught on camera by our fantastic videographer, who also captured said sister-in-law losing her bout with gravity, and landing firmly on her ass in the middle of the dance floor. This whole sequence makes for a phenomenal wedding video, but also caused a bit of a stir amongst some of my wife’s Aunts – the confrontation has since been smoothed over, but my poor Jewish friend, feeling terrible about the incident, made a heartfelt, slurring and staggering apology for it. An apology that I still refuse to accept because I don’t find anything inappropriate about his behavior, as drunken groping was as much a part of that particular wedding as cake and rings. The tales of gossip and scandal that took place in the Radisson Hotel that evening continue to be shared and embellished.
I retreated up to the bridal suite with my new bride, where we relaxed, changed clothes, congratulated ourselves on how wonderful everything had been and enjoyed each other’s company. I thumbed at my finger to evaluate the strange sensation of wearing a ring, only to realize that it wasn’t there. I panicked for a brief moment, and then decided to come clean. I informed my lovely wife that I had lost my sacred wedding ring just a few hours after I had received it. In my defense, I was never properly fitted for the ring, having been at sea or at a training exercise in Fallon, NV for the months leading up to the wedding, leaving me with a ring that was several sizes too big. I was a bit surprised that she was not even a little upset about it, and simply laughed and remarked about how quickly I had fucked that up. We ran into Best Man Matt and informed him of the problem, and he vowed to find the ring. My cousin is the type to make solemn vows when drunk, so I decided to leave him to it and head to the bar.
Upon returning to the hotel bar, our guests sensed our relative sobriety, and everyone rushed us drinks. We drank plenty and enjoyed the company of all our family and friends. That is when we realized that it is likely that you will never again have a chance to gather all of your friends from all stages of your life, your family, and your new family in-law all together for one big party. Your wedding is a very special party, and we do not regret taking full advantage of it, despite the way the night ultimately ends for me.
The good times were rolling, people were pairing up and disappearing together, and my wife and I, both very titillated by gossip, were enjoying watching some of the very surprising match-ups wander off. Another interesting dynamic, was watching our families interact, as they had previously resided each in their own separate universe, with the two of us being the only link. At one point, my brother marched up to me, either annoyed, amused or drunk or some combination thereof, and exclaimed “that woman just bit me!,” in the tone of a seven year old tattle-tale, pointing accusingly at one of my wife’s aunts, who I know to be capable of such action. I was not shocked, having been privy to the drunken antics of these women for over 6 year, so I just shrugged and replied “their fucking crazy, what do you me to do?” He rubbed his face and just mumbled “she bit me…” trailing off a bit at the end and shaking his head in bewilderment. I have no idea why she would bite him, but I believe he was telling the truth.
Matt rolled in with my ring, for which he scoured the entire ballroom floor and somehow recovered. He proclaimed himself the greatest Best Man of all time, and promptly got on with his partying. He had no idea just how much he would eventually have to prove whether or not he deserved that moniker.
After the bar closed we continued the party in the big open cocktail lounge area of the bridal suite, and drank until there was not a single drop of liquor to be found, at which point everyone’s enthusiasm faded and the party finally broke up. My wife and I, utterly exhausted from the week long excitement, collapsed in our bed.
Having stayed in a different room the previous night, I was unfamiliar with the floor-plan of this particular room. I would later learn that the two rooms, situated on opposite corners of a square hotel, were actually mirror images of each other; I would learn this, by hearing the door latch behind me in the middle of the night, and snapping out of my drunken stupor to find that I was not in the hotel bathroom as I had been my intent, but was instead locked outside the room in the hotel hallway – I was also completely naked!
I became instantly sober and started banging on the hotel door in an all-out panic. I banged as hard as I could, I even kicked a little, but my wife was sleeping off the stress of months of wedding planning and hours of heavy drinking, and would not wake up. The woman in the next room however, not having been newly married or drinking heavily, did wake up, and opened the door just a crack – enough to see me, naked as the day I was born, heaving my hairy body against the door of the bridal suite. I ceased all motion, and tried not to make eye contact, as if that would prevent her from noticing a 190 pound naked man standing three feet away in a well lit hallway. Unfortunately, that trick only works on Predator, and she closed the door without so much as throwing me a towel or a newspaper to cover myself up. I cursed her silently, but quickly forgave her, as I realized that she and I had not been properly introduced as neighbors, and to her I was just a naked man in the hotel hallway at 4:00AM.
At this point I was really stuck; I could no longer bang on the door, and my neighbor was likely calling security – also, I had not yet tackled the issue of my being naked. Suddenly terrified, I ran for the stairwell.
There was only one guest whose room I knew I could find – Cousin Matt. Unfortunately, his room was on the opposite corner and two flights down. The stairs were no problem, as I was already there, but the hallways were an imposing obstacle. I would have to cover a distance of two full hallways to get there, each hallway entirely exposed to the whole of the Radisson hotel. I mentally scrolled through my options, and realizing that I only had one, I had no choice but to go for it.
I ran down the two flights of stairs and poked my head out into the hall. All clear. Good. Now it was decision making time again, I could cover my most sensitive parts with my hands, but that would severely slow my progress, or I could make a run for it! I settled on the latter, cleared the hall one last time, and took off at a sprint. My junk bounced painfully around as I ran, and I nearly broke my neck taking the right turn at the corner. I wanted to take a look around, to see if anyone was watching, but was ashamed and afraid I would make eye contact with someone, so I focused on the prize.
I got to my cousin’s door and banged as hard as I could. It took a moment, but I heard him start to rustle around and mutter a short “what the fuck?” He turned the knob, but only got the door opened an inch before I practically kicked it down and ran into the room – “I need some pants!” were the only words I got out before I heard a mousy little “Hi Augmentee” come from the bed. I had not thought about this, but my cousin was not alone. Good for him, too bad for me, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have made any difference if I had known, as I was a desperate man. I threw on my suit pants from the previous evening, and sat down by the phone to call my wife. I called – no answer. Again – no answer. And again, and again, and again – still, no answer. I called another 10 million times, and although my wife’s head was only about six inches from the ringing phone, she did not wake up.
I threw on the jacket and walked shamefully down to the front desk. I approached wearing a suit, without a shirt or shoes, and informed them that I was the groom, and that I needed a key to the bridal suite. The woman behind the desk looked me over, and handed me a new key, no questions asked – I suppose this kind of thing happens all the time.
 The chronology of the lost ring incident is blurred in my memory; I decided to insert it here for the sake of the narrative, and come clean in the footnotes for the sake of the stories integrity.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I have received early parole. I am super excited to get out of here, but there are much preparations to be made, leaving me with little time; however, I have been working extra hard on something special for you all. I expect it's release on D-26 or D-25.
Let's go State!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I got an e-mail from a reader recently, who is at Fort McCoy getting ready to start his IA, and he told me that my relief has been identified, and will be in theater no later than November. This rumor was confirmed by my boss. This is very, very good news. First, it means that there is no plan in place for me to perform any in-theater moves, making cryptic “McLovin’” even more of a douche than originally suspected. Second, November is not far away, and the chance exists, and in fact is being talked about at high levels, of sending one Mr. Augmentee home a little early! Christmas is a long shot, but perhaps I’ll be home in time to watch a Penn State National Championship Game? Hmmm? Maybe blow my savings on a trip to Miami to see it? Who knows.
So, everything is gravy. Plus, I returned to the FOB today; deciding that the conditions at the COP were not dignified enough for a man of my stature, I caught the first train out of there and came back here to change out the old underpants. All things told, a pretty good day.
Monday, October 20, 2008
D-101: Flies and Underpants
Life out here, while void of some of the more lavish "creature comforts" of the FOB, is actually pretty enjoyable in it's hassle-free simplicity. There are no meetings, aside from a few taking place on the FOB which I am required to teleconference in to, leaving my schedule wide open to engage in my many leisurely pursuits. These consisted mainly of football watching during the weekend, but there was also ample time to watch Platoon and read about 300 pages worth of Zinn's A People's History of the United States. There is a tent with workout equipment, and I can run around the perimeter (9 laps = 1 mile). The shower facilities didn't work for the first few days, but are now back online, and a line of very stinky porta-johns serve as toilets, and double as a breeding ground for a race of super-flies that are unmatched in speed or tenacity by any fly I have here-to-fore encountered in my lifetime.
The flies are everywhere on the tiny COP, but are highly concentrated in the bathroom area, where they torment and frustrate you to the point of tears while you try to brush your teeth. Ten or twelve will position themselves on various parts of your body, and will respond to being brushed off by simply flying a short loop and returning immediately to their original position. Their entire route never takes them more than two inches away from your body, and provides absolutely no relief. Invariably, one or two will choose to take residence on your head or face, and when brushed off, they fly directly through your field of vision before returning, just to let you know that they are still there, and that they will not be leaving any time soon. Your only defense is to continuously pace the length of the bathroom while you brush (an option unavailable while shaving), constantly shaking and kicking your legs and arms around like Michael J. Fox in a vain effort to shake off flies.
Their is rarely a fruit or vegetable to be found, so the meals consist of a meat and a starch, and of course their is always plenty of cookies, muffins, and other assorted crap lying around - so the food is nutritionally terrible but on the whole it tastes okay. All in all, I have no complaints; in fact, I rather like it here.
When I first arrived at my Non-Air Conditioned tent, I was a little grumpy about the disparaging accommodations, and once again wondered if the Army was ever made aware of what a "High Valued Asset" that I am. I unpacked my sea-bag, and arranged my items in neat little piles on the floor under my bed, and to my horror, realized that I forgot to pack underpants! I was riddled with anxiety when I thought of spending 10 days without underpants AND without air conditioning. The sum of which is far worse than either part taken individually.
The only solution I could manage was this; I would take my underpants into the shower and thoroughly rinse and ring them out, then hang them on a bed post to dry out. I considered perhaps using shampoo to supplement the cleansing process, which would certainly improve the scent, but I worried that this might lead to some uncomfortable itchiness should I fail to rinse it out completely enough so ultimately settled against it. This system allows me to wear them on alternating days, and go commando on the between days. This is day five of the cycle, making today an "underpants day," and I have realized that going without undies is not nearly as catastrophic as I had originally made out. It feels good to be free of this unnatural dependence on underpants - I am not advocating this as a lifestyle choice, and by no means to I intend to boycott underwear altogether, I just simply am not reliant on it anymore.
Underwear is a crutch. Hooah.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
D-105: Blog Silence = 10 Days
Once a month or so, I receive an e-mail from someone who happened upon the blog, thanking me for giving them some insight as to what their upcoming IA deployment will be like. While I’m happy that people are enjoying it, it is kind of depressing that Sailors are forced to turn to the world of ego-bloggers to get any information on what their upcoming deployment will be like. I think that shows that although the Navy has been in the IA business for about five years, they aren’t getting any better at it.
While I was home on leave, I spoke with my CO, and he asked me some specific questions about the IA because he was hosting some muckity-muck from the CNOs office that happened to have a heavy hand in IA tasking. Listing my grievances, I realized that the most stressful part of this whole deployment so far was the disorganization of the Navy on the front end. It seems the Navy pre-deployment support policy is still “Good luck, let us know how it goes!” That’s disappointing.
More disappointing still, AFN will not be airing the Penn State game this week. I understand that Michigan is having a pretty shitty year, but ask anyone who went to PSU how big this game is. If Penn State doesn’t win this week, I am likely to have a breakdown of Brittany-esque magnitude. It’s for the harvest – you know what I mean? Let’s Go State!
MAJ X: You’re boss is really starting to piss me off.
Augmentee: You’re my boss sir, that doesn’t make sense.
Monday, October 13, 2008
D-108: Navy Birthday
I have two bosses. In fact, I have two entirely separate chains of command; one Navy, one Army. The Army chain, most immediately led by the venerable Major X, has been the most influential thus far – they write my FITREP and my tour award but most importantly, they rule by proximity; I sleep here, work here and eat here. They are the proverbial “alligator closest to the canoe,” or more aptly “hands closest to my throat.” The Navy chain of command has thus far been of very little help or usefulness, the only thing they could provide would be to step in on my behalf, should I choose to tattle-tale on Major X for some perceived mistreatment – but one need look no further than my previous blogs (or previous sentence) to uncover ample reasons why tattling on the X-Man is not an attractive option.
Recently however, the balance of power has shifted slightly, in what seems to be no more than a petty inter-service rivalry that pits yours-truly in the middle of opposing forces of evil and evil. The one thing that the Navy side of the house has ultimate control over is my “tasking.” Meaning, they have the power to yank me from this unit at any moment and assign me to another one, or worse, assign me to Headquarters where I can valorously finish my deployment making coffee and powerpoint presentations, in the end, making me wish I had ate the Hadj food and subsequently shit myself to death.
The cause of this sudden tumult of my otherwise peaceful (relatively speaking of course) existence is not entirely understood by me or any of my immediate supervisors, but the gist is as follows:
NAVY: We told you to prepare for the departure of your EWO, and you failed to so. So, prepare for the departure of your EWO.
ARMY: Why should we prepare for the EWO’s departure, when the EWO is still here? Is the EWO, in fact, departing?
NAVY: I am not at liberty to say, but you must make preparations.
This exact flavor of bickering pops up every two months or so, in which the Navy proclaims that they are getting out of the EWO business, and that the Army needs to settle its affairs. The Navy seems to have put very little thought into when it is actually retiring from the EWO game, or in what manner it will employ the individuals currently serving as EWO - although, it should be noted, they specifically stated that we would not be getting sent home.
So with the dream of being home for Christmas preemptively shattered, the alternatives to this FOB, where I have made many friends, have my own room, and have fine-tuned my program to a such a degree that maintaining it requires minimum effort (and maximum Battlestar Galactica time), do not seem appealing. I can go to another unit, make new friends, inherit a potentially much fucked up program, and roll the bones on accommodations; or I can be relegated to the horrible world that is the Victory Base Complex, where I can see to the aforementioned coffee. So as guilty as I feel by saying it, especially today, on the 233rd birthday of the noble sea-going service, I am on team Army on this one – and will do all in my power (which is not much) to keep from being relocated.
My personal preferences aside, no one can seem to offer any rational explanation on why I would be pulled from a unit, so close to the end of their deployment and mine, other than “well, we told them to prepare.”
It seems to me that the best thing for this Battalion (obviously), is that I stay – I am the morale officer for Christ’s sake! Therefore, the best thing for the war effort is for me to stay. There-fooooooore, it is my duty as a patriot and as an officer to sabotage any attempt to remove me from my post. God Bless America – and happy birthday Navy!
Quote of the Day:
MAJ X: I don’t give a fuck what his hair looks like, he’s in the Navy.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
D-112: Augmentee, Don't Eat That.
Yesterday, in honor of the end of Ramadan, the XO ordered some kind of feast of local fair, presumably in some sort of display of “cultural sensitivity.” The thing was catered by some Hadj company that one of the Hadji shop owners found, and it looked very suspect from the get-go. It consisted of various parts of a goat’s body still attached to shards of bone that looked like they were smashed apart with a sledge hammer rather than cut with any kind of blade, sitting atop a giant plate of rice-a-roni, accompanied of course by pita bread and several dishes of green, brown, and yellow mashed up baby vomit to dip the bread in. As you could have probably guessed, the whole thing smelled like “Sex Panther.”
Having learned this lesson the hard way back in June, when some local goat filled hot-pocket liquefied my intestines and had me running to the toilet for three days, I bolted from the building the second this meal was brought through the door. Had I stayed behind, I would have had Iraqi’s begging me to eat for three hours; “You’re not going to eat?” Why don’t you eat?” “Won’t you try it?” If they only knew how much they had in common with Jewish mothers, I think the Mid-East crisis would have been over decades ago. Maybe we should just have the Israelis and Palestinians sit down and guilt each other into eating Matzo balls and Goat Kebobs for a few hours and see what happens.
They would all have their feeling generally hurt when I offered my series of excuses for not eating; “No thanks, I just ate yesterday.” “It’s against my religion to eat goat.” Likewise, the truth would hurt their feelings even more; “you’re un-clean food makes my asshole explode.” Then all the Army guys with the iron stomachs would call me a pussy and shake their heads in disapproval.
Today, the bathroom was jam packed with soldiers paying the price for their cultural awareness. Looks like I win again.
Quote of the Day:
MAJ X: “Every two weeks we all devour a giant bowl of stupid soup!”
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
D-113: Easing back into it.
I’m definitely back in Iraq; things really got into full swing today, and it all of the sudden feels like I never left. I was so relaxed and refreshed after my Puerto Rican vacation, but 24 hours worth of Army bullshit later and I’m more tense than a wigwam and a teepee (sorry, couldn’t resist). The latest is that they may move me to a different unit; which will be really nice, getting to pack up all the shit that I’ve accumulated and start over making new friends and learning a new job. I don’t want to go; I am comfortable with the status quo. I can’t even call this Army bullshit, as it is just as much the Navy’s fault as the Army, and I am just a pawn in this game. Dust in the wind dude… dust in the wind.
Well, I’m not interested in talking about my vacation. The trip back here took 6 days and was hellish; I occupied my time with NCAA ’09 on PSP and Ambien plus a bed so I could sleep away the horror that is Kuwait. The only positive of the journey was that I was actually looking forward to getting back to my base because I hated it so much. When I finally arrived here the electricity was out, and while the team of 125 Pakistanis tried to fix it by digging holes and climbing ladders and otherwise acting like they were in a Benny Hill episode, we treated it as a snow day and found a place with power to play Call of Duty IV all day.
Yesterday I started getting caught up on all the work that I left behind, and today I found out about the possibility of moving and spent the better part of the day whining about it and pouting; “No Fair.” Just sitting in my room and looking around at all the shit I have everywhere between things I brought, things I bought, and things that were sent to me in generous care packages, I am having a little anxiety attack. I will have to end up just giving all this stuff away.
I’m not sure if anyone still looks at the blog, considering how I have posted almost nothing for over a month. The truth is, I have very little to say these days. Iraq is Groundhog Day – it is beating the funny out of me.Important Note: I adjusted the D-Number to reflect how many days until I am released from theater - that number is more important to me because life is easy-breezy from there. Also, that number is smaller.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I am stuck in Kuwait, and have just been informed that my time is up on this PC; FUCK! More to follow.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
D-152: Return of the Augmentee
I have been neglecting this blog; I know. I have been completely wrapped up in a storm of fantasy football drafts, football games, and getting everything here squared away before I go on leave.
I can’t wait to go on leave! My wife has promised that the fridge will contain a case each of Hoegaarten and Sam Adams Octoberfest – which I will merrily drink while watching football at a normal hour, sitting on a couch with my dog, eating something delicious that has never been in a can or a freezer, and studying up on the lavish Hotel and Casino where I will spend a week in Puerto Rico.
Most of you already know this, but after pestering the guys here for the last several months, one of them relented and risked his career by allowing me to drive a multi-million dollar, sixty ton, M1A2 Abrams tank. It was so much fun, that I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I had an honest-to-Jesus good time. The tank actually has a modification of the same turbine engine used in the H-60 (Blackhawk, Seahawk) helicopters; the controls resembled those of a snowmobile, with the throttle on the handle of a T-style set of handlebars. The throttle was extremely responsive, and I nearly gave my tour guide a heart attack a few times by laying in to it too much, though nowhere near its full capability. The handling was amazing; having never driven a tracked vehicle before, I was taken by surprise by how quickly the thing made its turns, as the turn is provided by a speed differential between the two tracks rather than by an axle and column, so it basically just pivots around its center.
Big thanks to CPT M for allowing that little field trip, and for pointing out that the tank is “designed to destroy; it has no secondary mission.” The whole thing was very, very awesome; and it marks the first time that I ever thought being in the Army might be pretty cool.
Penn State players continue to piss off both JoePa and I; this time it’s Maurice Evans, the All-American Defensive End, and two other guys who are considered critical to the team. This worries me; in my opinion, guys who think highly of their team wouldn’t jeopardize their season by smoking weed in an on-campus apartment like some God damned hippy – which leads me to believe that these guys don’t think much of their team. Naturally, JoePa is going to mete out a fair punishment, which begs the question – “what are these cops thinking?” You know what JoePa is going to do – you are a fucking campus cop, why would you endanger the Defense by reporting two starters for smoking a little weed. Just steal the weed and give them a warning idiot – if anything goes wrong today against Oregon State, I am going to hate the campus cops. Well, I already do, but I can hate them more.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
D-162: Bowl Homage Deux - Return of the Throw-Up Ninja
All right, we’re talking football on the message boards! That is most welcome, even if it was instigated by my cousin’s embarrassing ignorance. That man gave me pants, when it was pants that I needed the most, so all is forgiven – I will have to share that story sometime, but for now let’s stick with football.
This will be my second football season “underway,” and I am pleased to say that AFN football coverage is actually very good. Sadly, I will not be getting the PSU game (I will likely get next week’s game against Oregon State) but AFN will show many other games, followed by replays of yet more games throughout the week, including abbreviated versions in which they just play from snap to down and cut out all the other shit. It is pretty great, and once NFL kicks off, you can more or less watch a football game at all times, day or night. Brett Favre is a Jet and I am very excited.
I have four fantasy football teams, one of which has already drafted and I the proud owner of PSU legend (and Pop Tart pal – another story for another time) Larry Johnson of Kansas City. I know many people argue that Fantasy Football is akin to Dungeons and Dragons for jocks; but those derogatory statements are usually made by nerds who play Dungeons and Dragons and mistakenly think they are finally going to receive the inclusion that they have so desperately sought throughout their lifetime. Sad news dork, fantasy football is still football related and therefore still awesome; you are still a social pariah.
Hey! Speaking of social pariahs, how about another Bowl story?
Recently, the Jewish Giants fan lucked into the Jets season tickets of which I am the rightful heir; they actually belong to my in-laws, but they are very generous with the distribution and my friends and I have long been very grateful, as we have sat in those amazing eighteenth row seats at the Meadowlands more times than I can count. One time stands out; vaguely.
There are gaps in this story, as they correlate to alcohol induced gaps in my memory, so try to stay with me. I want to say it was one of the last home games of the 2005 season, but according to the internet, that would make it a December 26th game against the Patriots or a January 1st game versus Buffalo. I don’t remember it being that close to a major holiday, but it is plausible that I spent the holiday in Philly, then picked up Bowl-Knockers in Manhattan and busted a U-Turn back to East Rutherford. I am leaning towards that Pats game, because I remember laughing my ass off at a bunch of rowdy Jets fans who were throwing hot dogs at clueless sorority girl wearing one of those pink on pink Tom Brady jerseys; hilarious. However, for some reason I want to say that I was with Bowl the day before the game watching Texas play Oklahoma at a bar and subsequently being kicked out of a cigar store… whatever, two things are certain; we drink too much and I went to a Jets game with Bowl.
Naturally, Bowl and I thought the time “TBD” on our tickets meant 1:00PM, because football starts at 1:00PM… right? Well, it made sense to both of us because we left early enough to get a good spot in the lot, and showed up at Giants Stadium around 11:00AM. We were the first people to show, and I mean the first, there were not even people at the gate to the lot to collect the outrageous $10 parking fee! The place was deserted!
If Bowl and I are anything, we are flexible – this was a minor setback; determined to make the best of it, we turned around and set off to find a New Jersey supermarket in which to purchase beer. East Rutherford is a barren shithole, so we were having a devil of a time finding one. We stopped for an egg sandwich, and then finally found an establishment that sold beer. Bowl rejoiced, “Commerce does exist here, we will have beer!” Knowing we had a lot of time to kill, and determined to not ever have to repeat this trip (confident we would never find our way back), we thought it prudent to buy a lot of beer.
Ask yourself this; what is bigger than a can of beer? If you answered “a pounder,” you are right! Now ask yourself; what delicious beer is most often found in this magnificent 16-ounce brother of the can? If you answered “Busch Lite,” you are either a redneck, or have been to college.
Well, just how many 16-ounce Busch Pounders does it take for two people to kill five hours? If you answered “24,” congratulations – you may be eligible to party with the champs!
By the time we returned to the parking lot, we were armed with a case of Busch Pounders, a Styrofoam cooler, and over four hours until kickoff. Things were looking good. I donned my ceremonial Curtis “My Favorite” Martin replica Jersey (still in use) and Ole’ Bowl chose his #88 Wayne Chrebet home jersey – an excellent choice. We went to work on the Busch.
Well, the next few hours are blurry. Once other people started to arrive, we met up with some friends and got some much need barbecue. Not only did we kill all of our Busch, but we had a few Miller Lites as well. It goes without saying, that by the time we navigated our way to our seats, we were good and hammered drunk. We ordered our first $8.00 plastic bottle of Miller Lite, and settled in for some football.
About four minutes into the first quarter, the Jets looked horrible and so did Bowl. His head was hanging low in the half passed out position, and there was clearly nobody home; I ignored him and went on watching the game. Finally, Bowl would not be ignored; his head snapped upright, and then bent back down quickly. I stared in absolute astonishment as Bowl projectile vomited a wide stream of disgusting liquid at an uncanny force. It hit the cement beneath his seat and splattered in every direction. The fans in the surrounding seats jumped and trampled over each other to escape the fragmentation area of Bowl’s regurgitated Busch. Fans from other sections and upper levels were pointing over the side and laughing, fans from our section were not laughing.
I just sat there and gawked; I was drunk and up to my knees in puke. What I thought was going to be an eternal geyser of barf finally ceased; Bowl recovered, stood up as if to take a bow, looked me directly in the eyes, turned and left the stadium. What he left behind, the English language is far too limited to describe. All eyes were now on me – these are aisle seats, so I couldn’t even try to blend in with a different group, everyone was pissed, and everyone wanted to know what “the puker’s friend,” as I was now known to 70,000 people, was going to do about this disaster. I took out my wallet, bought two $6.00 Aquafinas to wash away some of the more disgusting chunks, and 5 $8.00 beers, one for myself and one for the four people who were most adversely affected by the “incident.” This diffused the situation temporarily, although I did continue to buy beer for the two gentlemen sitting directly in front of me for the rest of the evening, but what really won their hearts was that I spent the next several hours telling everyone embarrassing stories about Bowl and assuring them that he did this kind of thing all the time, and that yes, he likely has a very small penis.
Major X addresses the Company XOs at a meeting, regarding their inability to accurately report their vehicles mileage:
“These are exactly the kinds of little ass hamsters that can morph into big problems later on!”
Monday, August 25, 2008
D-164: Playing a Little "Catch Up"
First, I was making a totally awesome video for Bosk’s wedding. I planned it with his brother so that it would look like we were having a live conversation during the Best Man speech. I shot it through NVGs, and added a few effects for extra coolness. I bantered with the Best Man for a little, pretended like I could see the bride and groom, and made a little toast. Everyone said it was smash hit! I was so happy to have been able to steal some attention for myself even from way over here. I laid awake almost the whole night Saturday feeling sorry for myself – I wanted to be at that wedding so much, and even now it makes my stomach turn to know I missed a kick-ass party. I am happy for Bosk and Lady Bosk though; I guess.
Second, I have really buckled down and taken my role as Morale Officer very seriously. After an extremely successful series of twelve Olympic babes, I have shifted my focus to the upcoming football season and started a new Football Match-up series of morning e-mails. They are wildly popular – an example is below.
AAFES has begun wiring the FOB for high speed internet access. It is expensive, but it is fast, so I can’t wait until they reach my building. Once I am set up with some decent internet, I’ll post my daily morale pictures on another page with a link (Pride, I need another page with a link – sans the naked men if possible). The morale picture takes up a lot more time than ought to, but I like it and so does everyone else, so it’s worth it. The problem is, I can google “Cheerleaders,” and I will get a lot of decent images, but I don’t want to pigeon-hole the thing into just “cheerleaders of the day,” but more of a celebration of the entire female student body. If you google the word “coed,” you are directed to 3 million porn sites – which while entertaining, are unfit for official U.S. Government e-mail, and is actually a violation of General Order #1 along with no drinking. I would be worried that Army authorities would be kicking down my door any second now for all the “accidental” porn hits, but they’re busy trying to catch Hadjies. Anyway, it takes a lot of searching to put together a product of that quality.
Third, the thing that takes up the most of my time away from work is the gym. I have leave coming up, and I want to be shredded like mother-fucking Bruce Lee when I get home. I’ve been working out pretty hard for five months, and I am very studly; but not quite Bruce Lee territory. Someone sent me a box of delicious baked goods today, which set my progress back several days as I greedily consumed a massive amount of brownies and cookies.
To help me along, I ordered a cool $240 worth of supplements today, despite the advice of the Jewish friend, who is in fact a doctor although just being Jewish is good enough for me as far as medical advice is concerned. He is actually the only Doctor I ever consult (unless I need drugs); I routinely disregard his counsel in flagrant and fantastic ways. The $240 is mostly protein, which I ordered a three month supply of, but also includes a bunch of Hydroxy-Cut and the like, which will lead to the realization of my fitness goals, or kill me – only time will tell. I am really hoping not get kidney stones.
Well, I hope you found my excuses satisfactory. I apologize for neglecting you, and I will come through with another story this week.
Actual Conversations: Recent dinner conversation concerning dreams.
The Augmentee: I dream about being on an Aircraft Carrier.
Army 1LT: Is being on an Aircraft Carrier better than being home?
The Augmentee: (Pause, confused look) No Idiot, it’s just better than being here with you.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
D-170: An Homage to Bowl: Worst Party Guest
One football Saturday Senior year, we were throwing a party that we had billed as the biggest party ever for the previous two weeks. Two weeks was an eternity in terms of party promotion at our house, often giving notice any earlier than a day or two prior to the party date led to an unmanageable crowd showing up and kicking the kegs by midnight, so we intended for this one to be a blowout.
In preparation, we obtained seven kegs and three taps; the idea was to have a keg flowing on each floor of the house to minimize waiting time. The upstairs kitchen was set up for beer-pong, the living room had the kegerator and was cleared of all furniture save the stereo to facilitate dancing, with ambiance generated from the gaudiest colored light disco ball that Spencer Gifts had to offer. The full, unfurnished basement, our traditional party venue, held yet another beer-pong table and stereo, and some odd remnants of old couches and chairs. We were ready to jam.
Typically, the guests at these sorts of affairs began to pore in around 10:00PM, and the place was filled to a capacity that was a slap in the face to the Fire Marshall by 11:00. I was just finishing up my shower when big Golden Girls loving bowl arrived at 8:30. I have known Bowl many a year, and have seen him in every stage of drunkenness, but this particular evening he was in the rarest of form. He proudly informed us that unlike we pussies, he had not stopped drinking since the football game! And not only had he kept it going, but he singlehandedly put away an ungodly amount of some whiskey or something – I cannot recall exactly because his speech was already slurred beyond comprehension.
I went into my bedroom to get dressed, while Bowl informed me once again that I was a pussy, and pulled a beer from the kegerator. He sat down on one of the kitchen chairs that were scattered around the house. When I emerged from my room approximately eight minutes later, he was slumped in the chair, head hanging low over his nearly untouched beer. I laughed, and shouted “Bowl!” to wake him up. Upon waking, he calmly set down his beer, got up, and staggered into the bathroom, where he remained for quite some time.
I thought nothing of it, and continued helping my five roommates with the party preparations. I left the room briefly, and when I came back, I started to wonder about Bowl. I rapped a few times on the bathroom door, and heard no answer so assumed he had fallen asleep on the can. I opened the door – nothing in my life had prepared me for what I saw at that point.
Predictably, Bowl had puked. Not only did he puke, but he literally covered every surface in the room with his vomit. There was a trail of bright pink slime from the door to the toilet, it covered the outside of the toilet, it was in the tub, it was on the walls. There were footprints all over the floor, and handprints on the sink, and on the mirror. It appeared as if girl from the exorcist had visited our bathroom. Bowl was no longer present; he painted the room in barf and vanished like a throw-up ninja.
I was dumbfounded; the magnitude of the disaster left me in a state of catatonic shock. The stench alone took my breath away. I just stared, until Schwartz came over, took one look, and walked away laughing. But not haha laughing; laughing with despair.
The only solution I could manage was to close the door and walk away. I was content with just locking it, maybe putting some police caution tape across the door, and never using that room again. There was another bathroom upstairs, and we encouraged guests to pee in the large laundry sink in the basement; surely that would be sufficient for the five hundred party-goers who would be arriving in less than an hour. What else could I do?
Unsatisfied with this solution, Schwartz’s girlfriend took one for the team, gripped a mop, and cleaned the whole room. If she hadn’t, I assure you no one would have.
Thanks for coming to our party Bowl, and bringing with you a hurricane of disgusting destruction.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
D-173: On Tape
I woke up in the middle of the night because I had to pee; I had to pee real badly! My head was still a little groggy; it felt heavier than normal when I lifted it. It was at that moment that I realized that my head was in fact heavier; it was not just an illusion from a long night. It was heavier because it was firmly fastened to my pillow with Duct Tape.
I attempted to remove it, but immediately realized that my arms were fixed to the bed. I looked myself over as best as I could, by lifting my head and pillow, and peering downward to the point that my eyeballs hurt from the strain; what I saw was a lot of Duct Tape; a thousand feet of it to be exact.
I contorted my body so that I was slightly on my side, and worked the tape connected to my right wrist with my thumb and index finger. Patience was required, but I really had to take a leak. I managed a little tear in the side of the restraining strand, and with all my strength was able to pull that arm free. The violent motion made me acutely aware that I was also suffering from a severe hangover. I mentally categorized my misfortunes in order of precedence; taped to a bed, about to pee my pants, badly hung-over.
With my liberated right hand, I pulled my head free of the pillow – my stomach turned with sound of the tape ripping out my hair and the stinging pain that accompanied it. I started working the tape around my torso, and initially I’d made it somehow worse by twisting and knotting the tape, and getting it all stuck to itself. I was amazed at the sheer quantity of tape that I was pulling off; it seemed endless, it was alternately wrapped fully around my chest, sometimes including my arm, sometimes not, and then wrapped completely around the bed, box-spring and frame with no pattern that I was able to discover. My legs were completely immobile, limiting the amount of force I could apply to any one pull, and reducing my available means of escape to one; I had to meticulously remove each line of tape, and with it whole tufts of chest hair until I was free.
When I was finally finished, I had collected a ball of used silver Duct Tape the size of a large yoga ball, roughly weighing seven or eight pounds. I hurried out into the living room towards the bathroom to solve my second most urgent problem and saw the one we know as Stillborn asleep on the fold-out, and the Jewish one asleep in a chair, tenderly cuddling a maple Louisville Slugger. I lifted the ball of tape high over my head, and slammed it down into the face of Stillborn, and stomped my way toward the bathroom. He laughed heartily for a few minutes and went back to sleep.
On my way back to bed, I kicked the ottoman away from Jewish, and despite nearly falling to the floor, he neither woke up nor let go of the bat. Good hands.
I took a few Advil, chugged a glass of water, and went back to sleep for several hours.
It’s happened again; some idiot lost another pair of NVGs, so once again I find myself on “lockdown.” The only authorized reasons to leave the building are for showers and chow, and to conduct normal business. So basically, that leaves the PX and the gym off limits.
It’s not as if we are locked in here to furiously search for the NVGs; they weren’t even lost in the building. We are just being collectively punished. I don’t understand it one bit. This is just the Army way – I hate the Army way. Why they can’t just punish the people responsible and be done with it, I’ll never understand, but I’m told this “lockdown” may drag on for weeks, as it appears both the Major and the Colonel are extremely pissed off. Punishing the entire battalion by taking away gym privileges is the most arbitrary and ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard – first off, accounting for sensitive items and working out are not even remotely related; second, physical fitness is supposed to be important to the Army; and third, half of these people are fat pigs, who could care less about the gym being off limits and therefore are not being punished at all, except that now they can’t go buy Ding Dongs and Cheetos at the PX anymore.
I really don’t have enough to do here. Occasionally I get very busy, but for the most part, I complete all of my actual “work” in less than two hours a day, and read magazines and do crosswords with the remainder of my time. To most people that sounds like a good deal, but I hate it. It makes the days drag on forever and makes me depressed to be here. The Army could really handle this job if they were forced to.
I usually go to the gym at 1600 every day. I like it because it cuts the day up into two manageable parts. Not being able to go is frustrating.
We have been warned not to ask when we will be allowed to use the gym again. In fact, there was a whole oration on the subject at the morning meeting during which MAJ X threatened to “take our souls.” Something in his tone convinced me that he has the ability to carry out that threat, and I have prudently decided not to poke that bear.
I am in the worst mood imaginable, I’m 28 years old, I am stuck in Iraq for another 6 months, and I am essentially “grounded.” It is just so fucking stupid. If this tour serves one purpose, it is this: My appreciation for all things Navy is at an all time high, excluding, of course, the individual augmentee program.
As if things weren’t bad enough, the DVD drive on my brand new laptop is now broken; it last five months. Now I don’t even have a way to watch movies.
Quote of the Day:
MAJ X: “I will take your souls.”
Friday, August 15, 2008
D-174 - The Morale Officer
In fact, I did nothing today. Seriously, not one stitch of meaningful work – sometimes, when I’m screwing off during the day, I’ll at least turn to my computer and click the mouse a few times when Major X rolls through; today I even quit doing that. I did the crossword, opened a package from my wife, read most of this month’s GQ, and went to the gym. At one point, Major X said “I don’t know about you EWO.” In response, I momentarily looked up from my magazine, decided I had no idea what he was talking about, and looked back down. He is a confusing person.
A few days ago, he told me I was supposed to be the morale officer; I replied “really, I had no idea.” I don’t know why he thought I was supposed to know that; in fact, I have been under the impression that the Army is completely opposed to morale. Regardless, I have embraced my role, and as my first order of business, have instituted a daily mass, morale-spewing e-mail: in honor of the 2008 Olympic Games, I have chosen to make the theme “Olympian of the Day,” and have been sending out pictures of Olympians, past and present, which happen to be extremely hot. Tomorrows Olympian is Ana Paula Connelly, a magnificent beach volleyball player from Brazil. Picture included.
The Olympian shtick has been very well received by the Battalion; I take pride in my work.
This bickering on the message boards amuses me; especially since I know the true identities of all the participants, though they are anonymous to one another. I feel so God-like and powerful.
I did get my leave chit in today; I had been trying hard not to think too much about leave, but now that I put in the request, it is the only thing I think about. I ache for it, I can’t wait to go home – wife, dogs, beer, regular clothes, comfortable bed, real food; in that order. Some of the guys have gone on their leave already, and as they come back, refreshed yet more depressed than ever, full of stories of drunkenness and fornication, I want to punch them. How dare they enjoy themselves whilst the rest of us are stuck here with the sandstorms and the stinky Muj?
Quote of the Day:
“Yep, thar goes ole hand-job Pete… best darn hand-jobs this side the YU-FRATE-EES!”
Thursday, August 14, 2008
D-175: Reader Appreciation - I'll Give You A Topic
Wow! It is pandemonium on the message boards! Sorry for the media blackout, but I have been working on another project, and it is sapping all of my creative energy.
I am drafting another full length “feature” story, but I haven’t had the time to write it properly, so I refuse to rush it out. Besides, it is clear that you all enjoy posting nonsensical garbage on the message boards more than you really enjoy my writing, so I am going to give you some fodder to post about for the next 24 hours, until I can have something properly prepared.
The following is a list of places I have peed since my introduction to irresponsible drinking:
1. On the back deck of an abandoned house to put out a fire that I may have been partly responsible for (1997)
2. In Ivan the Lumberjack’s closet (1998)
3. In my own closet (1999)
4. Out the door of a moving “short” bus (2000)
5. In a bush on the front lawn of a frat house – ticketed by State College Police. When I asked my Dad for the money to pay the $100 fine, he replied: “well I’ve done it enough times, I suppose we were due.” (2000)
6. Almost in the oven of a stranger’s house – redirected to the bathroom by Jewish friend (2001)
7. In my bed (1980-1988), In "our" bed (2002)
8. Off the side of the bridge to the beach in Pensacola; in front bumper-to-bumper traffic (2003)
9. On a puppy (2007)
10. In bottles in my room (2008, on-going)
P.S. Seriously Pride - fix this issue with the text. It is aggravating the shit out of me. I don't care how many shirtless dudes you put in the banner - just make the god damn thing readable.
Quote of the Day:
MAJ X: “I’m telling you; you have sex with a Brazilian, you’ll be pulling the bed sheets out of your ass the next day!”
Everyone Else: (silence)
Sunday, August 10, 2008
D-179: Little Pills
I went to the doctor, which is something I rarely do, and he gave me Aleve and some blue Ben-Gay like bullshit; reinforcing my belief that going to the doctor is a waste of time (sorry Jewish friend). Instead, I found a different doctor who was able to give me some low grade muscle relaxer called Robaxen, which is doing the trick. I’m sure I’ll be fine in a few days, but in the mean time this is making me fucking miserable.
Outside, we are enjoying an average temperature of 113⁰F; while inside, we are flipping back and forth between the Olympic Games and Russia’s merciless pummeling of Georgia.
The Olympics are sometimes interesting, that is, until the horse dancing event comes on. For reason beyond my understanding, a large chunk of the afternoon programming is dedicated to this ridiculous equestrian event. I don’t know what actual title of it is, but it is an event wherein a rider, dressed up as Mr. Peanut, rides around on a horse. The horse does not run nor does it jump; it just walks around. At some point people clap, and the announcer remark at how the rider should be very pleased with that performance.
Perhaps, if they were riding a rhinoceros, I would be impressed, but horses are well known for their ability to be ridden around, I rode one around upstate one time when I was twelve – I was unaware that the addition of a silly coat with shiny buttons would have made me an Olympian.
As for the Russian invasion of Georgia; that is uncomfortably close to here. I am not a history major, but I do recall some instances where a bunch of little wars and grudges turned into very big wars. Couple that with the fact that a large number of Georgian troops have been giving us a hand here in Iraq, likely buttering us up for just such an occasion. It looks as if the rest of the world is content on sitting this one out – and I really don’t care what happens as long as I am safe and sound and on my way home in February. Anyway, I used to really kick the Russian’s asses when I was playing guns with my cousin, and I’ve seen Spies Like Us like thirty times, so I am prepared for anything that comes my way.
I received a very nice care package from A.G. + C.G., which was billed as care package competition between them and Schwartz + Underpants. Although the latter has failed to deliver, these sorts of competitions are encouraged. I am going to refrain from commenting on the contents of the G’s package, but it was very good and will be tough to compete with. Should S + U ever get off their asses and mail me something, the grading will be done by panel. The panel will include one female, because we only have one female, and her inclusion will help balance the inflated scores that any pornographic content is likely to receive from the gentlemen. Also, it is rumored that AAFES will finally be offering a high speed wireless internet here for only $25 per month; could this be an initial response to C.G.’s harassment of elected officials (I assume NH elects its officials, although it could just be whoever lives closest to the highway)? Who knows, but it sure beats paying $50 to Hadj for slow, shitty internet – plus, I have no doubt that all or part of that $50 helps fund the insurgency.
As pointed out by Golden Girls fan, I now have less than six months to go. While one might think this would make me happy, I am reminded that Navy deployments are only six months, so it's as if I have just started. So right now in Navy world, I am off the coast of Norfolk completing that final CQ. I am hoping that my aircraft breaks, so I have cause to go back to the beach for one night ashore. Tomorrow begins eight days of no-fly as we complete a Trans-Lant, where we will just sleep and attend boring intel briefs until it is time for another CQ around the Azores.
Before I retire with my little muscle pills, I would like to commend Pride for finally defending himself, the beating he has been taking with respect to the shirtless sailor banner has been brutal. Good for you Pride. I apologize if this entry is disjointed or poorly written, I took 3 pills before I started and I’m beginning to get sleepy.
Friday, August 8, 2008
D-181: Useless Filler
The VBC sucks; it is too big, and the majority of the people there are not “war-fighters,” they are logisticians and bureaucrats; they work nine to five, they write speeding tickets and cry about eye protection and reflective belts. They worry about having Sundays off, and making it to their kick-boxing class on time. Not to mention, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an O-6 or above.
There were two things about VBC I was looking forward to; first, they have water, so I thought I might see some colorful birds, I did not. I saw a lot of bats though. Second, they have a Cinnabon, which is delicious; but Cinnabon was closed.
I did get to see a bunch of my Navy and Air Force friends from my original class, and that was a blast. I had people to console me about the Cinnabon being closed and it was really fun to bitch about my job and bitch about the Army to people who really understand. So it was not a total loss.
I am not feeling terrible funny right now, my back hurts. I try to avoid posting when I am not funny. The end.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
You know, one of my best friends is Jewish. Everyone needs at least one close Jewish friend, because then you will always have someone to get drunk with on major holidays.
My Jewish friend’s first Irish Catholic holiday (by no means his last) was an Easter dinner; it was 1999. He sat next to me at my parents’ dining room table, prompting my Grandma, who was around 90 at the time, to ask bluntly, “who is that?” Gesturing over toward my friend with her fork, in case there was any doubt as to whom exactly she did not recognize.
“That’s the Augmentee’s friend Grandma,” my Mother gently replied.
“Oh yeah, why isn’t he with his own family?” She asked flatly. It was a valid question.
“He’s Jewish Grandma; his family doesn’t have a big dinner on Easter.” Again the answer came from my Mother, who was seated closest to Grandma, thereby giving her the best chance to hear.
We all considered the matter settled, and went back to our delicious meals; Grandma, however, was still taking the issue into consideration. She took a moment, shrugged, and concluded;
“Well, Jews gotta eat too.” And that settled it.
Later that same year, my Jewish friend and I are roommates in Porter Hall; our room is the very definition of dorm room hip; a lofted bed housed a futon couch, which faced a 27” TV, complete with a Sony Playstation. We had a George Foreman grill on which we made grilled cheese sandwiches, and five foot wide Scarface poster. It was by far the coolest room on our floor, and we had many visitors.
Aside from our undeniably sweet dormitory, something else very special was happening on campus that year. The mighty Nittany Lions, behind the strength of the most incredible defensive front seven ever assembled, were one of the best teams in the country, with pre-season number one rankings from both Sports Illustrated and the Sporting News. When Lee Corso and the college game day crowd showed up to Happy Valley for the opener against Arizona, PSU was #3 in the USAToday, and Arizona was #4. The Lions trounced the Wildcats 41-7, kicking off the most electrifying nine weeks of football I had ever witnessed (we will never speak of what happened in week 10; seriously, never).
After a laugher over Akron, the campus was charged up for a showdown with unranked Pittsburgh, which many viewed as a warm-up for the following week’s road opener at Miami; The Nittany Lions second out of conference top ten match-up of the season.
State College is always a party town, but on a home football weekend, it is absolute hysteria. We went out Friday night, like we did every Friday night (along with Saturday and Thursday, and sometime every other day) for our entire four year career. I don’t remember what we did, but if I had to guess, I would say we went to a frat party, followed by another frat party, likely followed by an apartment party, followed by throwing up, followed by another party, followed by going home around three or four in the morning.
I distinctly remember waking up at 7:30AM. One of the more gruesome of punishments one had to endure as a member of NROTC at Penn State, was selling three dollar Pepsi’s at the football home games in order to raise money for the unit. I was a sophomore at the time, so I only had to work two games; Pitt was one of those two. Misery ensued for the next several hours, as we sat in an empty Beaver stadium with our blinding hang-overs, participating in whatever hazing exercise the Seniors had cooked up for us that morning. A popular one was a race up to the top of the stadium, back down, over the fence and across the 50 yard line, 50 push-ups at the “S,” up the stadium stairs on the opposite side, and back. Typing that, just now, I suffered a heat stroke and vomited.
The pain subsided as the stadium began to fill up, and watching the teams warm up erased it completely. As always, Beaver Stadium was filled to capacity; I raced around to sell as many sodas as possible before the game, allowing me to slack off later and watch as much of the game as possible.
I don’t know how the Pepsi sales went; I do know that I dropped a full one squarely on a lady’s head. Those cups hold about a liter of cola, and it was hot. To make matters worse, I did not have a single napkin to offer her, and I imagine she curses me to this very day when she remembers sitting out in that sun, covered in sticky fountain soda (or pop as the retards from Pittsburgh call it).
The Pitt Panthers showed up to play ball, and the atmosphere was very tense. In the fourth quarter, with the score tied at 17-17; PSU managed a field goal with under 2:00 on the clock. We were on the edge of our seats as the Panthers drove up the field. They marched to the Lions’ 35 yard line, and with four seconds left lined up for a 52 yard game tying field goal. You could have heard a pin drop as Pitt snapped the ball; we held our breath as the kicker got his leg into the ball. Then Penn State’s #11, Lavar Arrington flew into the sky – I swear he was 10 feet off the ground if he was a foot – and firmly blocked the kick! PSU wins 20-17.
It was without a doubt, the most exciting thing that had ever happened. The place erupted, it was so loud! I could not stop screaming, I could not stop jumping up and down, and I needed to hug everyone. In fact, everyone needed to hug everyone – like the part of church where everyone shakes hands, and you anxiously look around for someone who’s hand you haven’t shook yet, desperate to shake one more before time is up and the boring part starts again – it was like that except the fun part was never going to stop, and instead of shaking hands it was high fives and chest bumps! It was the happiest environment imaginable!
I have no idea how long the euphoria lasted, but I hustled back to my dorm room to get showered and head back out into the town, where the party was certain to continue indefinitely. I bounded up the stairs, and charged into my room, only to see the saddest moping Jewish face; staring at the highlights of the game on the TV. Lavar’s dramatic blocked kick playing over and over again. It was very clear that he had just woken up to find that he had slept through one of the greatest of great times – he was wearing just his boxers; with the brains of the operation peeking out of the leg.
Stunned and filled with pity, I said only the first thing that came to mind;
“Dude, your balls are showing.”
“I don’t even care,” he said without bothering to put away his nuts.
Quote of the Day: On picking on a 1LT about his hot sisters:
MAJ X: Come on, have you guys even seen his sisters?
CPT: Almost sir, but I didn’t want to put in my credit card number.
Friday, August 1, 2008
D-188: Major X
You see, everyone at Brigade fears Major X; everyone everywhere does. He is a terrifying man, he is the Chuck Norris of the U.S. Army.
When he sees the bullshit that Brigade is giving his JOs, he will immediately blast a "Go Fuck Yourself" right back to them, and they will cower. In the business, we call that top cover - Major X does not want you to destroy his JOs, Major X destroys his own JOs, the way Ike Turner would kick another man's ass if he just walked up and slapped Tina.
Major X makes Army Lieutenants wet their pants with a single hard look. Their are a handful of Captains that make up his inner circle; but he doesn't take any shit from them, he will just sometimes spare them the savage face-shots; sometimes.
On top of his ferocity, this guy is on it; always on it. He knows ops, targeting, intel, maintenance, supply; sometimes it seems like he could run this thing by himself. He has a photographic memory - I am half convinced that he is a robot.
He never bothers me, I am just the Navy guy, I do my job and in return he does not breath down my neck or verbally assault me. Also, he's pretty funny when he's not pissed off - besides, as I learned from the world's worst hinge I would much rather have an abrasive boss than an incompetent one.
Quote of the Day: Battalion Terp
“It is the ‘whorehouse effect,’ the better you are at your job, the more they want to fuck you!”
Thursday, July 31, 2008
D-189: Big K Loses His Ass; Cookie Monster Loses His Legs; The Augmentee Loses Two Friends
The summer between junior and senior year at college, those of us who remained on campus occasionally got together for a friendly card game, before going out for the evening. This was before Texas Hold’em really took off, and most poker gathering were generally “dealer’s choice;” this is a fine arrangement, as long as each player at the table possesses a large arsenal of games from which to choose. No such luck at our games, we generally bounced around between dull draw games, where the pot was never able to grow past $0.90 (this was nickel/dime poker after all), and ridiculous stud games with multiple wild cards and five or six rounds of betting, i.e. “seven card stud, follow the queen, slap the bitch, deuces and fours are wild.” We hadn’t yet grasped the concept of Hold’em, or any of its terrific offspring such as Tic-Tac-Toe.
The bets were nickel ante, with a max raise of a quarter; nothing fancy. These games generally got very boring, very fast; and were really just an excuse to get together and drink while we waited for the bars to fill up. The boredom combined with the dealers’ lack of creativity, inevitably led to some kind of “pot” game, where a large pot develop and everyone takes turns competing for it. Two popular pot games come to mind; “Guts” and “Acey Ducey.” This story is about the latter.
In Acey Ducey, everyone antes up a quarter to the pot, then each player is dealt two cards face down that he may not look at. Starting to the left of the dealer, the player reveals his two card hand, and then chooses to bet anything from $0.25 up to the amount of money in the pot – he is betting that the next card in the deck will be between the two cards he has on the table, hence the name “Acey Ducey,” since an Ace and a deuce are the pair that give you your best shot at winning.
Here is the big kick-in-the-balls; if you show a pair, you pay double. Meaning, if you have an Ace/Deuce; and the dealer turns over an Ace or a two, you now have pair in your three-card hand and you owe double. Read it again if you need to; it is essential that you understand. If this seems rare or unlikely to you, try it right now. Go get a deck of cards, and deal out a few hands – how often did a pair come up? So in our game, with just $1.50 worth of antes in the pot, someone had a decent hand, let’s say King/Three, so he bet “the pot,” and another three comes out; now he owes not $1.50, but $3.00! And now the pot is $4.50 to the next player.
I challenge every one of you to play this game with 5 friends – with 25 cent stakes; I guarantee you achieve a pot of over $40 in your first three games.
It is evil, this game. It is the devil’s work.
One night during our poker game, I was getting bored and I was way ahead, so I threw down the Acey Ducey. The pot was $1.50; the very first hand was a double loser – Boom! Just like that, $4.50 in the pot. Two unlikely losses later, it was finally my first turn, with the pot already at $18.00; I flipped my cards and revealed an ace/four. I bet the pot, convinced there was no way it could happen again; predictably, it happened again. When I turned over the four, the room erupted in cheers! Everyone who had lost already still had a chance to win their money back, along with the $36.00 that I just lost to the pot.
I didn’t have enough money on hand to pay it, so I went into my room and retrieved my adorable Cookie Monster Cookie Jar. Cookie Monster was about ten inches high, ceramic and hand painted with a glossy finish. His head detached from his pudgy body around his shoulder, revealing the cavernous belly meant to hide your cookies and keep them fresh. I do not remember exactly how I came into the possession of Cookie, but I know he originated at Ralph Rotten’s Fabulous Fudge Factory on Portion Road where a friend of mine in high school worked. I believe he was left in my car. At the time of this story, I had been hiding my money in Cookie Monster’s Belly for over five years, and I was very fond of him.
The game continued; desperate to win some of the loot before it went all the way around the table again, possibly to be won by someone else, people began betting recklessly; and the pot grew. I was broke, and my $36 loss really stung. With my ability to buy beer in jeopardy, I adjusted tactics, and tightened up – refusing to bet on anything that was not a very probable win, and even then betting small amounts. I achieved a few small victories to chip away at my losses, but others kept feeding the pot, with loud whooping and hollering from the rest each time someone lost another chunk. The game was turning into a regular slaughter; I don’t think anyone was having fun anymore. Pot games always come up, because everyone want to let a big prize build up, for a chance to win some decent money; say, $20 in two seconds instead of winning $2.75 on a hand of poker that took 15 minutes. But therein lies the rub; once the pot grows, it needs to be dealt with. It sits in the middle of the table, it mocks you for not having the courage to go for it, and it reminds you that you cannot leave until the money has been fairly won.
It was $235 when Big K was dealt an Ace Deuce.
He asked if we would allow him to bet the pot, even though he didn’t have the dough – he swore he would go straight to the ATM if he lost. Wanting it to end, we agreed, although IOU’s are generally taboo at poker games.
The noise that escaped Big K’s mouth when the second ace was flipped was something between a yelp and a whimper. It was the sound a dog makes when you step on its tail; but with the volume turned way down. For once, there was no cheering at this loss – this was devastating, and we all knew it. In a way, we were disappointed that the game wasn’t over, terrified over the prospect of dealing with a pot of nearly $700, and baffled over what to do in the likely event that Big K could not pay. The room was silent; we all stared at the pair of aces on the table, cursing them for the trouble they had caused.
To his credit, Big K marched straight to the ATM and with a $70 loan from his friend, came back and laid $470 on the table. He shook his head, screamed every swear word he knew, turned around, and walked out. It was so awkward; if there was a way I could have let him off the hook for it, I would have done it in an instant, but there were still four people left, all with stakes in the pot, and all having paid up fairly when they lost, so it was impossible.
I slowly took about $100 back out of the giant pot, but the big prize was taken down by “N.O.R Lee,” a wild-haired hippie frat-boy, who had the balls to take on a $400+ dollar pot, just an hour after witnessing Big K’s ruin. I deposited my $100 into my beloved Cookie Monster Jar, and we went out to the bar without Big K. It was $2 Miller Lite pitcher night, so it didn’t take much, and N.O.R. Lee was buying drinks for everyone in the spirit of a good winner.
Two days later, I woke up after a long night of drinking, and Cookie Monster was gone. Actually, only his body was gone, his little blue ceramic head was still there, still joyously gobbling down his cookie as if nothing was wrong. I know Big K was still in the living room when I went to bed; I also know that he is one of about seven people that know where I keep my money, and one of exactly five people aware of the extra bit of poker winnings that Cookie Monster was housing. I asked him directly, he denied it, and I was faced with a difficult situation – I could take him at his word, but the situation was a little too suspicious and my brain would just not allow it; I could pitch a fit about it, but that would serve no purpose; what I did was this – I accepted the lost money, I believed that it was taken by Big K, and I just made it perfectly clear several times that I only wanted Cookie Monster back. Big K adamantly denied any knowledge of the money or the jar, but I continued to mention it – often.
About a year later, Big K’s best friend, let’s call him Little M, confessed the theft, and admitted that the Cookie Monster body was discarded immediately after the money was taken. I asked why, that these two people, whom I had been friends with for three years, would choose to steal from me for $60. His answer; “we really needed it.” Which I knew was true – I said “I would have given it to you,” which I think he knew was true.
They needed it because they drank every night, and they needed it because they had acquired a taste for expensive drugs, and they needed it because Big K lost his rent in an Acey Ducey game. Whatever the reason, I could never really stomach being around either one of them after that, and they more or less faded out of my life.