Repatriate: Now with 40% more Vitriol!
Monday, February 23, 2004
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
The Joy of Discovery
There's a hell of a lot of things they don't tell you about raising children in books.
Like the physics of baby shit. If baby shit could be compared to any historical figure, I would have to say it most closely resembles Harry Houdini. Like Houdini, baby shit is the ultimate escape artist. It excels in finding the tiniest opening or bit of slack in a confined space and is able to contort and squirm until it bursts free. Just as Houdini shrugged off straightjackets with contemptuous ease, baby shit is equally unchallenged by today's modern diaper.
I recently took my three month-old daughter to the drug store, and not wanting to schlep her heavy baby carrier through the building, I decided to carry her in the crook of my right arm. Thirty feet into the store, Camille's butt made a mighty ripping noise. Since her behind was firmly planted on my arm, the baby shit sought a path with less resistance. It flowed up the back of her diaper and geysered out onto my arm and my shirt. Horrified, I ran back to the car and begged my wife to help me. "Honey, she shit on my arm!"
Here's a tip for all you future first-time fathers out there: do NOT appeal to your wife for sympathy if this happens to you. She deals with incidents like this all day long and is apt to deliver a short dissertation on the subject while you stand there in the parking lot with shit on your arm. Repetition doesn't help, either. I tried.
If you make the bigger mistake of telling your parents, not only will they be unsympathetic, they will actually think this is funny. Yeah, ha-ha, Mom and Dad. I get it. What goes around comes around. Very amusing. What did I ever do to them to have them take such delight in kicking me while I'm down? And covered in baby shit?
And what are YOU smirking at?
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
The Plural of "Anecdote" is not "Data"
I'll be damned if that isn't the most succint argument I've heard in a long time. To give credit where it is due, it was written by Neal (Nukevet) in the comments section of Random Nuclear Strikes in response to some lefty blogger's ravings. I had been thinking about it all week and last night it struck me why.
From 5p.m. to 7p.m. in New Orleans, I listen to the Rob Hunter Show on WTIX. He's a "Big 'L'" Libertarian in the worst sense of the word: economically conservative, socially liberal. He's been running his dicksucker for the last couple of weeks about gay marriage - how it doesn't bother him, it doesn't affect anybody, there's nothing wrong with it, blah, blah, etc. Classic liberal argument - it doesn't bother me, so it shouldn't bother you, but if it bothers me, you better fucking knock it off. Coincidentally, this is how we get "Under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer banned in public schools, while we get public funding for "Piss Christ" and sex education in the classroom, complete with instructions for oral sex and sodomy.
Anyhow, over the grinding of my teeth, I can hear this suckhole crow about how no one has been able to call and convince him that gay marriage is wrong. "You're just trying to appeal to my emotions - I need some logical argument." Fucking-A right you do. This is what most of his fawning callers sound like:
"Ya know, I know of dis couple dat's gay and dey'd make betta parents dan mosta dose aboosive fosta parents out there." Rob Hunter quickly jumps on it and says "See, that's what I'm talking about - wouldn't kids be better off with parents who'd love them and take care of them than all these abusive foster parents?"
Stop the presses, asshole. After the death of my younger brother, my parents became foster parents. We had several children come through our home and my folks showered them with love and affection. If kids could pick foster parents, the line for my mom and dad would wrap around the fucking planet. Does that mean all foster parents are great?
Say it with me - the plural of "anecdote" is not "data." I don't call in to radio shows, mostly because if your FACTS don't fit their pre-ordained judgment, they dismiss YOUR proof as anecdotal, while the fact that Jim Bakker cheated on Tammy Faye turns into "See? Those Christians are hypocrites - most of their marriages end up in divorce, but this friend of mine who's gay has been with his partner for three years!"
Man, I hate me some fucking liberals.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
It's always hard, losing a loved one. Harder still, to be the one to send them away. This past weekend I was forced to send my dog, Einstein, to live with someone else.
When I met my wife, she had just sold her house in Baton Rouge and was staying with her parents in New Orleans until she could find a new place. That's where I met her Boxer, Caesar, with whom she would leave me alone while she ran up to her third floor bedroom in a futile attempt to improve on her already perfect beauty. Caesar didn't like me. He would bark at me when I hugged his mistress, stand between us whenever he could, and growl at me when I was alone with him. I finally got tired of it, and a couple of judiciously applied ass-whippings when I was left alone with him quickly improved his attitude, and to this day all I have to do is point at the ground and he'll drop and show me his belly. But make no mistake, he's still his mama's boy. I wanted my own dog.
A year later, the three of us moved to the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada. I thought I wanted a yellow Labrador Retriever and I located a breeder in a little town named Orillia, located about an hour north of Toronto. When we got to the kennel, it appeared empty. I walked inside the enclosure and a black furball came bounding out of nowhere and slammed into me, almost knocking me over. At eight weeks old and 35 lbs., Einstein was the biggun' of his litter and the last one left. It was love at first sight and I couldn't wait to write out the check.
After a nervous initial meeting and ten minutes spent sniffing each other, Caesar and Einstein settled into a continual Punch and Judy routine, with Einstein playing the bully and Caesar the long-suffering older brother.
We were a family. Our dogs saw my wife and I get married, get pregnant, move back to New Orleans, buy our first house and welcomed our first baby, Camille, into our home. I settled into the proud papa role quite easily. Two weeks ago, I could have honestly told you that I had everything I ever wanted.
Then last week, the unspeakable happened: Einstein bared his teeth at my daughter and advanced on her. I'll never know what he would have done next, because I had swept his 85 lb. bulk aside in an instant. I was filled with white-hot fury at him for threatening my baby and fear at what could have happened to her, and it all came pouring out of my hands. I beat Einstein savagely, pummeling him to the ground as I bellowed in rage. He could have been a grizzly; it wouldn't have changed the outcome, and if he had fought back, I would have killed him where he stood. He only cringed and cowered near the floor, coughing and hacking in pain. I dragged him to the door and threw him outside.
Closing the back door, I stood silently, trembling now as I fully realized what had happened, what could have happened, and what now had to be done. I sat next to my wife on the couch, neither one of us wanting to give voice to what we knew must happen. After thirty minutes of this, I spoke out loud for both of us. "Einstein has to go."
The next two days were a struggle, as both of our hearts tried to make excuses and find solutions to a problem for which our heads knew there was only one answer. Funny how one instant can change everything. No matter how bad we felt it didn't change the fact that Einstein was no longer My Good Boy - he could no longer be trusted, and as much as I loved him, I love my daughter even more.
To make a long story a bit longer, I forced myself to place an ad in the paper offering him free to a good home. I never entertained the thought of selling him, even though he was an expensive purebred. How can you sell your friend? Besides, I felt enough like Judas Iscariot already - I didn't need the thirty pieces of silver to exacerbate my guilt.
Early the next morning, we got a call from a man who lives in the country and was looking for a companion to go fishing with - a perfect match for my boy. Einstein loves the water and I felt better knowing that he has a lifetime of outdoor adventures to look forward to.
After he was gone, my wife felt I needed some love, and held my daughter out to me. I held her to my shoulder and she snuggled in tight to my neck. Feeling the grief well up, I turned on my heel and walked to the back door, racked with sobs as I looked out into our backyard. Sometimes doing the right thing sucks so bad you could cry. And I did. But as I held my little girl, feeling her warm against my cheek and smelling her clean, new smell, I was sure we had done the right thing. She won't remember Einstein, but someday I hope she'll realize how much we love her.
And I'll still miss my dog.
Thursday, February 05, 2004
We Were Soldiers Once... And Dumb
Four M2A1 Bradley Fighting Vehicles sat perched at the top of a low ridgeline facing east, the rumbling of their Cummins turbodiesels floating out over the seemingly endless prairie of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. The day had been long, the work hard, and the food uninspiring. The soldiers of First Platoon had been out there for three weeks already and wouldn't be going home for another week. The prospect of getting back to our assembly area early only to settle into the tedium of fifty-percent security, scanning the same sector of featureless terrain over and over until first call the next morning was hardly a motivating thought. We were bored and we knew there was only one thing we could do to ease the pain.
It was time to destroy some government property.
And we were off! At the signal given over the platoon frequency, all four vehicles started racing for home. I was a buck private and the driver of "Red Two," the platoon leader's wing track. As a precaution, I lowered my seat fully into the driver's compartment, buckled my seatbelt and locked the hatch. The last thing I wanted was my head and shoulders sticking out of the vehicle if it rolled over. The noise-canceling headphones incorporated into my CVC helmet didn't quite cancel out the bitching from the six dismounted infantrymen, or "crunchies," in the back (We called them "crunchies" because that's the noise their bodies make when the Bradley's treads run over them). I had just shut off their only source of fresh air and most of their light for what was going to be a long, bumpy ride.
Fifty miles per hour may not seem very fast to you, but when you're driving over broken ground and your only view is through a 2-inch by 4-inch periscope, it feels like Warp Factor Nine. We were nosing ahead of the pack when something zipped across my field of view. We had flushed a pronghorn antelope.
"Hard left!" yelled SSG Gibbons, my Bradley Commander (BC). "Get his ass!"
Friends, if you've never thrown a 33-ton tracked combat vehicle into a bootlegger's turn, you've missed one of life's true pleasures. We jinked back and forth, trying to keep the antelope in front of us, neither gaining nor losing ground as we bled off speed with each turn. I could STILL hear muffled cursing through my headphones and over the scream of the engine one foot to my right (and over the sound of crunchies and loose equipment being tossed around in the back).
The pronghorn soon grew tired of this game, straightened his course, and turned on the jets. He quickly pulled ahead, bounding over a thicket of low vegetation. I jammed the oversized pedal to the floorboards, eager to catch up. My stomach dropped as we crashed through the thicket that the antelope had so easily leaped across and I saw that it concealed a dry creekbed that we had no hope of clearing.
My shout of "Hang on!" mingled with the cries of "Stop!" and "Oh, shit!" coming from the BC and gunner, both of whom were standing on their seats, the upper halves of their bodies fully exposed outside the turret. The prow of the Bradley dipped and then slammed into the far wall of the creekbed, bringing us from 30 mph to zero instantly. I banged off every hard surface in the driver's compartment (there are no soft ones) and felt something crash into my seatback.
I hit the fuel cutoff and yelled into the intercom to check if my crew was okay - there was no answer.Oh, shit, I've killed them, I thought. With shaking hands I dropped the ramp and popped open my hatch, flooding the vehicle interior with light. I quickly noticed two things: What had crashed into my seatback was one of the crunchies, who had been thrown through the "hell hole" all the way to the driver's seat, a tunnel about six feet long and a foot wide. He was okay, but seemed a bit upset with me. I also noticed the intercom cable had been pulled loose from my helmet, and as I took it off, I heard groans and cursing.
I ran around to the rear of the vehicle and saw crunchies pulling themselves out of the missle rack, picking themselves off the floor, untangling their equipment and all of them wanting to know "WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU DOING, ASSHOLE?!!!"
My gunner and BC were sitting on the floor of the turret, clutching their bruised stomachs and laughing like lunatics, tears rolling down SSG Gibbons' face.
Miraculously, no one was hurt. Even better, none of the Civilian Envirofags that were constantly following us around during training had been in the area. God forbid we leave a track in the grass or bruise one of their precious fucking trees - we'd get reamed out and our unit would get fined for the damage, which comes out of the training budget. We were able to back up and climb the wall of the gully, sparing us the embarassment of needing to be rescued.
Years later, I look back and think that if the taxpayers only knew what dumb shit soldiers can get up to, they'd be calling for defense cuts, even in the War on Terror. Hell, some of the more detached from reality of the liberal pantywaist set are bellowing for just that. But I think about our boys Over There, and I can't help but hope that in between the long stretches of boredom and the brief moments of fear and blood, that they get to enjoy at least of few minutes of balls-to-the-wall, high-speed, reckless fun. And if they happen to break a few things while trying to drive their Bradley up some camel's ass, so what? Put it on my tab and tell 'em I said be careful, and thanks.
That's taxpayer money well spent.
Sunday, February 01, 2004
Pearls of Ignorance
Several years ago, I worked as a bellman in a hotel in New Orleans' French Quarter. A fellow bellman named John had a habit of writing down the dumbest things he heard from other workers in the hotel, mostly the housekeepers. You could say he was a connoisseur of ignorance. He had an idea of someday putting them into a book, but didn't seem to get around to it. He had given me a few samples back then that I ran across in my desk the other day, which I'd like to share with you now:
"Some peoples don't wanna work for the l'il bit of change Mike throw atcha. So dey don' show up. Sometimes it bees that way."
You cannot make this stuff up, folks. And thanks to the New Orleans public school system, you don't have to! Not when the CLASS VALEDICTORIAN of a local high school failed the Graduate Exit Exam six times! Not to mention scoring an 11 on the ACT. But don't worry, community leaders have identified the problem: standardized tests are unfair to piss-ignorant schoolchildren. Solution? Do away with standardized tests, or at least translate them into tests that young urban kids can relate to. Maybe they should run them through Tha Shizzolator and bring dose muthafuckin' test scores up 'n shit, know what I'm sayin'?
New Orleans - come for the booze and whoring, stay for the edumacashun.