|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Sept. 04, 2004 - 6:15 p.m.
Ok, my big self promotion billboard has remained up long enough. Time to move on.
But don't forget: Click the Diarist.net award button over there and decide which entry you like best. Then vote for mine anyway.
Before I get to the meat of this here ramblefest, I have to discharge a debt of gratitude:
Absolute scads and bunches of you wrote e-mails offering help with my HTML woes. Several of you even refrained from reiterating what an idiot I am(!). I love you all.
However, the one who actually ended up waving her magic keyboard and making the dreaded Red X disappear was irishblueyes, so I love her the most (this week). It's funny, she's one of those talented women who seem to be good at everything (including knowing more about music than this ex-rock DJ). But since she has a kid she's confined to sitting at home changing diapers - some of them her kid's - and helping strangers with their code problems.
And don't think I'm not thankful.
Ooh! I've gotta pass on a great Jewish joke I heard years ago, but had forgotten until something reminded me of it recently. I believe I first heard it in a Jackie Mason routine.
(If you're not a New Yawker, just know that the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn has a very large population of Hasidic Jews. It may be the cleanest area of Brooklyn as a result, but it also has some of the worst fashions.)
A young Hasidic Jewish student has lived all his life in Crown Heights, never once venturing out of the borough of Brooklyn. However, shortly after his 21st birthday he found himself all alone in Manhattan running an unexpected errand. After he completes his duty he wanders around the streets a bit, marvelling at the bright lights and unfamiliar hubub.
He thinks to himself, "Here I am, a very devout Jew who has led a blameless life for 21 years. I've lived by the strictures of the Torah and I always do what my rabbi tells me. I mean, I've never even tasted pork. I don't think God would strike me dead after such a life if I were to - just once - try pork."
And so, convincing himself that he was not risking eternal damnation, he ducked into the nearest restaurant and sat down. Scanning the menu, he figured that as long as he was going to stray, he might as well go whole hog.
He ordered the whole roast suckling pig.
Twenty minutes later the waiter sets a silver platter in front of him, on top of which is a golden brown piglet surrounded by kale and with an apple stuffed in it's mouth. The smell is incredible!
The kid's eyes glaze over and he immediately begins salivating. He picks up his knife and fork and is about to dive in when the front door to the restaurant opens, and who should walk in but...
The rabbi immediately spots the kid and clutches his chest in shock. "OY! My son! Vat are you doing?!" he yells.
The kid looks up in horror at the rabbi, then down at the 8 pounds of pork in front of him, and back to the rabbi.
"I ordered a baked apple!" he says finally. "Who knew what it would come with??"
Two buddies of mine, both currently incarcerated in the Army, showed up at Dangerhouse last Monday looking for shelter while they deserted. "Sure!" I said. "Glad to help!" (Helping people be more like our President is one of my missions in life.)
It was only after I'd set them up in our guest rooms, they unpacked, and had 7 beers each that they told me they were just kidding. They were only on leave, not abandoning ship. They knew I'd never let them stay if they weren't deserting though (correct), so they felt justified in their initial deception.
I actually feel kinda bad for these guys. They both joined the service in August of 2001, having been duped by oily recruiters into believing the glossy pamphlets that showed buck Privates lounging in hot tubs in the Orient, playing golf in Palm Beach, and dining at Chuck E. Cheese's in front of animatronic mice. Plus - money for college! How do you resist that when you're 17?
Three weeks into Basic Training their Drill sergent had them all fall out of their barracks. He announced, "Ladies, the United States of America has just been attacked by terrorists. All hot tubs and golf courses have been shut down, and all animatronic animals have been destroyed as possible WMD's. We will now issue you desert gear, because that's where you'll be heading after Basic is over. Dismissed."
Two months later they were pitching tents in a sandstorm in Kuwait.
Like I said, I feel kinda bad for these guys. Aside from the shock of going to war when they'd only signed up to take monetary advantage of Uncle Sam, they were now choking on the obvious lies fed them as the reason they were out there in the first place, shaking a kilo of sand from their pubic hair every night.
And then there was Shit Duty.
No, not the generic "shitty duty" that every soldier complains of.
You may have seen reference to this elsewhere, but if you haven't, it's my pleasure to enlighten you....
See, one of the reasons the average Baghdadian was a bit miffed after the Shock and Awe wore off, and why rose petals were not strewn over the corpses to welcome the liberators, is that they were thirsty. And hot. And dirty.
It seems that unexpected "collateral damage", suffered when enough ordinance to destroy the Death Star is dropped on you, includes things like water, electricity and basic sanitation services.
That meant, among other things, no working toilets. The Iraqis literally had no place to go.
Which meant the Coalition Forces also had no place to go.
Now, this really wasn't a problem if you just had to pee. With temperatures averaging 125 degrees(f), and 0.02 % humidity, you could just whip it out and the stream of urine would evaporate before it passed your knees. (Female soldiers just peed where they stood. The stain dried within seconds, and had the added benefit of evaporative crotch cooling).
But if you had to poop, that presented a real problem. Feces - at least healthy feces - is notoriously reluctant to just disappear into thin air like its liquid cousin. It just lays there, drawing flies and fouling your water source, until your forced to move and invade a country with a working sewer system.
Well, the US Army did not want to go that route.
...at least not yet.
So, they came up with "Shit Detail".
Here's what soldiers posted to urban Baghdad had to do when they opened the bomb bay doors:
They had to take a dump in a can. Like, y'know, an empty soup can, or coffe can.
That was their toilet.
I'm sure you realize the drawback here. Coffee cans don't flush. They just lie there, dutifully holding their contents until somebody shakes it out of them.
Hundreds of thousands of hideous, poop filled coffee cans.
Everywhere. Every day.
Of course, this was not a situation the Army could allow. It was already hard enough on the guy delivering folded flags who had to explain to weeping parents that their kid was killed because at 18 he really wasn't a good enough a driver to handle a Humvee and rolled it into a ditch. If mom and dad started reading "Dysentery" and "Cholera" on the toe tag, it could become a real PR problem. They had to do something about that shit.
Did you know that shit burns?
I remember reading that Injuns used to burn "buffalo chips", the solid exhaust from that noble beast, for both warmth and cooking. From all accounts it worked pretty well, and with very little odor. Personally I don't think I'd resort to burning shit in my grill if I ran out of propane, but to each their own. The point is, the Military seems to have read the "Johnny Paleface" series also (or picked up a few pointers first hand during 19th century slaughtering runs). And if it was good enough for those redskins, it was good enough for our dogfaces.
The troops were ordered to burn all their shit.
Every day, each soldier would take his reeking can to a compound on the outskirts of camp and dump it into one of numerous 55 gallon drums. When a drum neared "full", the soldier on Shit Detail poured something like rocket fuel over the mess, lit a match, tossed it and ran, all at the same time.
"People chips" are decidely NOT "buffalo chips". The smell is ferocious. On top of that, 50 gallons of solid human waste will not stay burning on its own. The soldier on Shit Detail has to return to the mound of flaming turds and stand there stirring it with a long stick until it all burned down to ash.
Now, I've been assaulted by some bad odors in my time. My parents lived (briefly) just a mile downwind of a pork abattoir, and on humid days you had to hold a gasoline soaked rag to your face to keep from going blind. But seeing the look on these guys faces as they tried to fathom what evil they did in a past life to deserve this detail, what hateful god toyed with them for no reason, what baneful, pernicious bacteria were harbored in the guts of ordinary looking people, well, I knew I'd never be able to match them. Nor would I want to. They got visibly pale as soon as they started their description, with eyes morphing into the classic "Thousand Yard Stare" within seconds.
It was a bad smell.
And it hung in the air like a brown gauze curtain every day, every place they went, even if they weren't on Shit Detail. You just can't Fabreze away a smell like that. The entire city reeked, and it was made worse by the open sewage pits that the locals used - in that oil rich region they had no fuel for Shit Details of their own. Both these guys said that it wasn't the fighting, the heat, or even the sound of bullets snapping past their ears from snipers that they'll remember longest about their stay. It will be the the unrelenting smell of burning human shit.
I'm glad I was considered too mentally unstable to enlist now.
Anyway, they've only been here 2 days and already they've eaten 217 dollars worth of hamburger meat and emptied 5 cases of beer. And that's only because they sleep til noon every day. At least they're polite, even if Every. Fucking. Thing. must be referenced to the military somehow. Seriously. Walking through the woods with Casey the Wonder Corgi yesterday was a non-stop lecture on the value of every tree and mound for either cover or ambush. My Mighty WRX, for all its speed and handling, would provide very little protection for me if I were even to come under small arms fire, I was disturbed to find out. For christ sake, one of them even managed during a MaxiPad commercial, "You know, you could use one of those things to clean your gun barrel in an emergency." Thanks, I'll stock up. Never know when my Remington .308 might have a heavy month.
Overall though, it's been a relatively pleasant experience. Yeah, I've got a few bruises from submitting to their demonstrations of "humane prisoner chokeholds", but otherwise I can't complain. It was even funny seeing their shaved heads craning upwards at every single skyscraper, like total tourist geeks in camo, when I took them to Manhattan for the first time. And another bonus: I can't say that I've ever had this much fresh game - gutted AND skinned - stuffed into my freezer. Mmmmmm, mmmm! That's good bear!
My only complaint?
I wish they wouldn't leave their filled coffee cans all over the house.
Old habits die hard, I guess. Hooah!
Have a nice Labor Day, y'all! Hope it's not a shitty one.
ps. Don't forget to show yer love - click the button on the left. ME ME ME!!!