Inauguration Week Observation of the Army National Guard

I’m sitting in the “Aid Station” AKA classroom at Dunbar High, on standby for the presidential inauguration. We’re watching the event itself on someone’s cell phone. There are jokes: “I can’t believe he didn’t say ‘huge’ a single time,” “He’s got like an eighth grade reading level, max,” “he looks like an American President, all old and white and crinkly,” and so forth. But not by everyone. One of the medics is beat red, flustered with the jokes about his new president. He might not be able to take it, even though his man won and there won’t be  woman in the White House, or likely a nigger ever again. He leaves the room to sulk.

Outside the aid station, in the cafeteria, there are cheers. Soldiers from all over stand up and clap at the screen; it’s the most excited they’ve been this whole time. They’re happy. They hoot when he says things like “law and order” and “protection” and “America first” and “jobs.” The lack of context feels like a necessity, whether an appeal to the reptilian brains of his supporters or a continuation of standard political lies of omission. There is a simplicity to these soldier’s happiness that I wish I could get down with. Many of them are happy because they can only be one thing. They’ve fallen so deeply into the soldier first paradigm that their eyes hurt looking at anything else.

It’s easy to see how this happens. It takes little, if any mental effort to become a soldier, to continue being one. In fact, it’s easier to get by if you consciously refuse to think. Try it, might fuck around and get promoted. Other soldiers will like you more too, it’s cray. Anyway, one of the things I’ve heard these people get excited about is that there will be a pay raise, which many of them believe to be the first in five years. Why they believe that, who knows. I imagine it’s because they really want to, must be like some Neverland shit.

 

*Hold on, the janitor is cursing me out about sitting in one of the nice chairs, just gonna write this while he talks… Okay, back.

 

Why army dudes would tout such a singular, mostly insignificant (especially for M-Day soldiers), untrue issue is part of the inability to be more than one thing, an especially depressing issue for M-Dayers, seriously. Of course there’s also the fact that they simply refuse to acknowledge issues outside of their subject positions. The intellectual and social sloth that comes with being a soldier is too tempting–not to mention the bullshit where conservative media forces people to imagine us all as heroes for existing; have you met many of these fucking soldiers?–and since you’re brainwashed and bleeding green and blah blah something like intersectionality would never occur to you, the soldier, someone given social capital, whose fragile ass masculinity is bolstered simply by putting on a uniform.

 

*Another one, this private is interrupting me to ask whether being born on March 10th makes you a Pisces. I’m just gonna write this and stare at him, should make his ass stand at parade rest… Back again.

 

The whole thing is super ironic because the slogan of the army national guard is that citizen soldier shit. Citizen AND soldier. Like both. That’s two different things. Can you think of any others? Remember when like Nickleback or Three Doors Down or whatever had that song for the recruitment commercial “Citizen Soldier”?

Dark days.

*Hold on, there’s a soldier complaining to me because he can’t watch the tear gassing live. I ignore him, imagining his little pink dick sliding from its sheathe when he finds a raunchy enough Youtube channel… Ok, back.

 

But yea, if one can’t be more than one thing (soldier) and you’re tricked into believing that everyone (liberals) hates that one thing, then you naturally align with the mortal enemy (women) of your new found cult faction, the in-group that has accepted you. (This can be applied to police officers, churches, corrections officers, more traditional cults, etc.)

You are no longer, if you’d ever considered yourself before: a woman, a POC, a teacher, a plumber, a doctor, a spouse, a clerk, a citizen, a human. Soldier, like so many other occupations where aggression as opposed to brains is lauded, accepts only one other identity. There is only one place the pent up monolith can expand–into masculinity. A musty ass, hairy nut sack having, homophobic, rapey, farting all over, play wrestling all the time, drinking shitty beer cheating on your spouse and beating her, hyper aggressive, Monster drinking, dipping and chewing and spitting ass masculine identity. A fucking hero. Now go out and be proud of your new president.

Who is in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard?

  1. White dudes who peaked in Catholic High schools and believe the cast of “It’s Always Sunny” to be representative of Philadelphia’s population.
  2. Latino/as recruited by or affiliated with SFC Guerra’s team. All of them.
  3. Niggas who went to war to buy Dodge Chargers.
  4. Medics.
  5. All of the cops and corrections officers from Philly.
  6. White girls who voted for ya’lls new president.
  7. Married dudes scouring the Earth for new pussy.
  8. Seven bougie black girls who wanted college money.
  9. The homeless.
  10. Way too many niggas that worship Lil Yachty or Uzi or whatever.
  11. White dudes who wear “Tapout” T-shirts and their tan army boots when they go out with their bros in pimped out pickup trucks.
  12. Everybody from burning crosses PA, AKA Pennsyltucky, who thinks college is a conspiracy complex for traitorous, pansy liberals.
  13. Three confuzzled feminists who don’t know how they got here.
  14. Several people who I assumed died before their 20s.
  15. Me, hatin’.

The Bright Side?

You’re supposed to look on the bright side. Sure, you’re in the military still and Donald Trump is going to be president; sure, you do have to work the detail for his inauguration and miss the first week of school; sure, it might have been eight degrees when you were hurrying up and waiting outside this morning, but hey, look on the bright side.

At least you’re a medic. You fix people (except yourself). You’re good at it too, and you enjoy it. You have several medics under you, smart guys whose company and conversation you enjoy. You are not currently lodging with your least favorite people, and, most of these motherfuckers don’t snore. You’ve sidestepped and juked and crossed over and stiff armed unwanted political talk so much–because you’re tall enough to see both sides of the fence; the army side ain’t pretty–that no one will try to tell you how much they hate hippies again for the next few weeks. Sure, you’re tired, but, and this is a big but, you’re training indoors! Whooo! Motherfucker yes. An indoor sports complex is at your unit’s disposal for riot control training and you’ve trained your ears to ignore or stomp out sidebars about wanting to maim Hillary supporters and what have you.

You’re relaxed.

There’s even a concessions stand! Awe yea son, that diarrhea from shelf stable meal packets, that bumblebee tuna in barbecue sauce with the tortillas where the only thing good inside is the fruit roll up (if you even get one) is no longer for you. You are fine dining. Hot dogs and slices of pizza. By no means the best hot dogs or pizza you’ve had but how could you even think such thoughts at this moment you ungrateful piece of shit? So you eat three hot dogs on your five minute break at ten o’clock; you’ve been up for six hours, ravenously hungry and you’re afraid they’ll run out. You’ve seen how army dudes get when the gut truck rolls up to an MRE filled range. You know. You’re ready.

What you’re not ready for, in your artificially enhanced mood, is what happens next. A group of privates walks up to the concessions stand and one says–to the adorable girl with the yoga pants behind the counter, who is too young, whether literally or mentally to really flirt with, but reminds you of Deanna in the writing center who you’ve offered to adopt–“hey, lemme get a slice of pizza.” Now, at this point she is hustling because there’s a line, a mob let’s say, of soldiers waiting or food. There isn’t anymore pizza, and the private can see that. His tone–in it’s agitation–suggests not only that he understands that there is no pizza, but that he feels entitled to the ghost of pizza past and, that he is, above all, a complete dickhead.

What you wanted him to say was (after she’d turned around to take his order): “excuse me, will you be getting in any more pizza later?” Or maybe order something else, or whatever. It’s all about the approach. Another employee, after dropping his cell phone says, “Yea, we’ll have pizza in about ten minutes,” answering the question that the private should have asked, while sporting a lovely mean mug. The yoga girl is uncomfortable, but used to it, as shown by her continuing to work and just lowering her head, making herself smaller, when she speaks to the next person in line.

The private is angry, mumbling things like, “how they ain’t gonna have no more fuckin pizza,” and is about to speak again, so you ask him–at an eight inch rising slope from the top of his head, “who the fuck are you talking to private?” You forget that you’re attached to a different troop where you know no one and no one knows you. When the private locks up, you don’t feel proud like many of the army bros you despise would; you feel kind of bad that he’s afraid of you. He doesn’t say anything else, and neither do you.

 

SSB

Back when God loved us there existed penny candy and dollar hoagies; there were two dollar cheesesteaks that would warm and soften the Frunas in plastic bags; Swedish fish, Chuckles, Mary Janes and Bits-O-Honey made sure I never had any change left; and those little hard fruit shaped jawns (the names of which I can’t remember) would go stale because I’d always forget them.

There was also quarter and fifty cent soda.

Off-brand as shit. In my neighborhood it was “Day’s,” but there are more variations than I can count now. Day’s soda though, had blue. I have no recollection of the fruit flavor it pretended to be, or if it even bothered faking it so we just called it blue. It didn’t say anything like “all natural” or “made from X% juice, etc;” it was just blue.

I knew that if I had three dollars I could get a cheesesteak, a fifty cent blue soda and a sack of candy, which–while lacking in nutritional value– was delicious and most importantly, made me happy. Happiness, that temporary and difficult as hell thing to grasp, now finds me in furtive dreams about blackened Red Snapper as I’ve mostly backed away from sweets.

When I was for real broke though, I loved that blue soda.

This is partly why I can’t get behind those defending the SSB tax. Yes, I’m aware that we should all drink more water (#Flint SSB tax?). I’m aware that our friends who get paid to make important decisions on our behalf have claimed that the money will go to education… But I’m also aware, that like most money grabs thinly wrapped in benevolence that it’s target is poor people.

I’m mostly surrounded by people with these arguments:

  1. “It’ll curb obesity and diabetes and therefore medical costs.” Soda is not the only thing contributing to obesity and diabetes, even the regularly attributed high correlation is a reach, let alone sole causation. Your medical costs are not going anywhere ever unless we adopt a single payer system no matter who changes what policy so might as well get over that.
  2. “It’s mostly welfare money that I pay for being spent on things with no nutritional value anyway.” If you believe that government benefits like welfare are seducing some significant portion of your hard earned paycheck, you are so far behind on economics and government policy that it will be hard to think/talk/read about this and your misgivings are more likely rooted in hatred for the types of people you perceive to be “getting” welfare–by that I mean bathing in vaults of Scrooge McDuck like money.
  3. “We need the money for good causes (education) and the SSB tax is the only way to help with that.” Hahahahahahahahaha. Ha.

Sure, we’d all like to toughen people up for their own good and demand they all drink more water (it’s lack of consistent availability being an interesting irony in this SSB debate), but let’s be real for a second and consider not only that that’s some totalitarian bullshit which most of us wouldn’t tolerate in our own lives, but that it simply doesn’t work.