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[1]. 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.

[1] 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


Yes, you've read that correctly. Today is D-27; destroying Bowl's dream's of posting "pttttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhhh" on D-69!

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!