Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oh my little soldier boy...


        I've been thinking about this boy I know lately. I used to work with him, he worked at the restaurant where I work now until they cut our hours, economic slowdown. He just graduated from high school, it seemed like he was on the fast track to being a fine chef one day. Now he's decided to join the military.
     He comes in sometimes to say hello, and I think he likes the attention. The ladies, the servers, we flutter around him, hug him, kiss his rosy cheeks, slap him, knock his hat off, rub his heartbreak head, tell him dirty jokes, act like his mom. He basks in our chicken fluff, our sweaty flirtation. What nineteen year old wouldn't like that? To have the attention of a full female waitstaff all moving quickly, shouting orders, hair trailing, white arms encircling his waist, we are a tornado of woman to this boy, all of us older than he.
      Chef says, "Join the military during wartime? So stupid."
        We all cajole this boy, ask him if he wants to kill, ask him if he believes in this war, beg him to stay home, go to school.
          He talks about the money. He talks up the adventure, makes me sick. He thinks he's grown, he thinks he's had all the adventure this town, this country has to offer. He's slept with the girls, the pretty high school girls, he's tried the drugs, he's played in the band, he's had the job and he thinks he knows what's what and all the whos and who cares, oh he's so bored. Thirty thousand dollars (he says he'll buy all us servers dinner out one day) and the adventure of a lifetime, my god his life is cheap.
      At what price a life not yet lived? 
        It's not just the possible loss of life or limb or skin, it's what he will see and do that can't be undone. We ship them off after training them for two years and there they see death, and there they see rape and there they see what chemicals and bombs and bullets and bravery do to a human body and maybe then they know how cheaply they sold their souls. For nothing, for a mistake, for a bloody shameful tangled mess of politics and jingoism.
         Those eyes, they kill me when they get back. They have those eyes that have too much in them to focus on what's in front of them, those eyes are broken and we do not take care of them when they come back.
       When I was his age I bought a truck and lived in my truck. I saw snow in the desert, I saw redwoods and gypsies. I jumped in hot springs naked and ice cold oceans in my long johns. I stalked an author. I joined a circus. I met my lonely. I camped with strangers. I got lost and found. I drove up, I drove down, I got tired and I slept.
        I told him all this and said that there are these adventures, that you don't have to go on someone else's preplanned war story, that you can make your own. But how can you tell a young man so full of hot blood and salty semen that the far-away look in my eyes, of what I have seen and what I have done does not make dumb the feel of soft flesh beneath my fingers and hard wood floors beneath my feet? That love is there, how do you tell him that love is there, when he will sell his soul for thirty thousand dollars and the empty promise of a gun?  

15 comments:

Ms. Moon said...

Jesus. I am speechless.

ajandmac said...

Wow.

Yes.

Speechless indeed.

honeyluna said...

That was purely amazing. I'm always in awe of how wonderful and poetic you are. I love you so much!

Human Wrecking Ball said...

That was amazing. So well written, dripping with feeling. I was thinking this has been going on since the beginning of time. These young men that can't wait to get old.
Thanks

Miss Maybelle said...

Ha HWB! I was just commenting on your blog while you were commenting on mine! The hurricane is drawing us all together....
But seriously, I think that's what it is. These days, how do boys become men? When is the cut off? How do they know? Maybe when they create life, have children of their own. If they haven't done that yet is it a sure bet that taking life away will do it? Or maybe it's a brothership they want, a common fight. But when it's over and they are strewn in amongst a society that cannot understand, isn't that the greatest alienation?
Whew, anyway. Thanks y'all. Love ya.

LoPo said...

I didn't get my comment in earlier because, I, too, was speechless. This little entry, Miss Maybelle, deserves a much wider audience. It isn't just good. It's profound. Thank you for putting it in words for us.

Miss Maybelle said...

Oh my, LoPo, thank you so much. I don't know what to say. Really, thank you.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

I can't speak for men in general because I have never been truely execpted in their ranks.
I think the moment you are a man is when you see the difference between yourself an an impulsive boy.
Some of us relapse from time to time!

downtown guy said...

I told him he was being a dumbfuck, but what can you do?

David said...

It really never occurred to you that serving one's country in the military is an honorable thing to do, and that people like him are the ones who make sure that people like you can frolic around chasing your fancies, stalking authors, skinny dipping and writing whatever nonsense you please.

Sara said...

beautiful. thank you ms. moon for sending me this way.

texino said...

Now I warned people about the dangers of turning into grumpy conservatives and coming off with pompous crap like that David guy. Perhaps you have stopped reading my stuff. So let me take a second to remind you that it is perfectly fine to pursue your "fancies" (?) while I pose a question
to our crusty patriot. Hi David, my name is Tommy. I'm 61 years old and I am a decorated combat veteran.(like a damed green Christmas tree) I served my country but in doing so I had to ask myself that in the all fighting which we have engaged in since "The Great War" (almost 100 years now)have we won anything? Have we kept, the Germans from unifying Europe? Have we kept the Japanese from becoming and industrial power? Have unified Korea? Vietnam? Well no. In fact when we are not backing up other countries with money and troops we can't seem to achieve very much at all. It seems to me that we have lost rights and become less of a power. So why not take your wolf tickets about honor and freedom and sell them someplace else?

Miss Maybelle said...

Wow, Texino, that sounded so much better coming from you than it did for me.
David- I never said that serving ones country was not honorable. I believe my point that right now it is stupid, especially when your reasons to enlist are money and adventure. Going to war should be a last resort. This war, built on false information and outright lies, is reckless endangerment of human life. Our individual lives are not numbers and the value of life is not reflected in such a tepid word as "casualty". Our government, by asking us to give up this life for what they have basically admitted is a huge mess, undermines our faith in our own system and thereby deminishes our standing as a world power. Which, if you think about it, increases the chances of future attacks and further endangers the safety of our nation. That is what bothers me.

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