25 December 2005

a christmas carol

This is, I'm sure, representative of an average Joe's xmas pretty much deployed anywhere. On duty or off, far away from pretty much everything, you're either stuck working, which is to say, killing, readying to kill, hoping not to get killed, or doing a thousand-and-one widget jobbies in support of killing and the like. Peace on FUCKING earth citizen, is what that is called. Booyeah. Orrrrrrrrrrrrrr, you're one of them lucky sumsabitches that gets to steal off post and flea to some den of vice in shitholes from K-town to TDC and a hundred bumblefuck third world villes in between serving pretty much the same old special: escape and relief in pints and quarts and gallons and bowls and bottles and steins and mugs and cartons. On spoons and needles and pipes and wads. In gulps and sips and tokes and chokes. To be had for free or cheap or not. Short time or long time or overnighter. Handjobs and blowjobs and nutjobs. Teabags. A sit-on-my-face twofur special. Ecstasy and sodomy and anarchy. And, beg the pardon and such, but save that little baby Jesus shit for the folks back home. Out on freedom's frontiers, takes a little more than bible-goddamned-thumping to shake the shit loose if you catch my drifting.

On that happy note, I share with you gentle kind sweet folk this fuzzy warm hazy remembrance of my first xmas away from home in the warm cozy kind compassionate sweet embrace of us army.

THEY gave us a choice. Work through Christmas, or work through New Year's. Why work at all? It was reported the North Koreans were planning a smashout knockdown World War Three-like offensive. Suicide puppies with satchel charges strapped to their bellies, four thousand sarin-spitting pieces of artillery, one-hundred thousand suicide commandos and one million starved to death tiny little angry Korean guys lusting after decadent hot South Korean ass and a violent tour of Seoul's noraebang carry-oaky music rooms.

This pathetic militarist wetdream had been predicted the last five thousand weekends without fail and had proven false and nonsensical and bullshit and none of it mattered in the slightest or leastest. The essence of soldiering is after all absorbing senseless flaglation and baring one's vulnerable parts and taking the pointlessness and senselessness smilingly and willingly for very little and the better and quieter and uncomplainingly you take it the more highly you are regarded for becoming the embodiment of servitude and sacrifice and selflessness.

I escaped for Christmas and stole off on a kimchi bus to Seoul and hooked up with my buddy for this most special of holidays. We crashed at his girlfriend's place. He helped her in her tiny kitchen marinate the squid. Nakji bokkum. For Christmas. How fucking more holidaysy than that can you get? Squid in enough red pepper sauce to burn a hole through little baby Jesus' gut.

They wrestled squidy at the sink and I was on her couch staring at this fifth of peppermint shnapps my buddy had liberated for the occasion. Peppermint shnapps and rot gut red peppered squid... it must be Christmas...

"What's this shit?"


"Shnapps," I echoed. Din't look like no shnapps I had ever seen back in Die Heimat, but booze is booze and when it gets down to the partikurlurs of boozing I'm not very. Partikurlur that is.

So while my bud and his girl wrestled the squid and debated marinating the sucker raw or throwing it in the pan, I sipped my first thimble of shnapps.

"This is some good shit," I reported to my bud.

"Have at it man," he said more or less preoccupied with squidy, squirming and wriggling pink asslessness futily in the clutches of my bud and his babe plotting sweet marination and the likes.

The shnapps was going down smoothly in the mean time and I poured myself another, then another and within twenty minutes had emptied the entire bottle all social and thoughtful-like without giving the matter much thought.

When the squid was ready so was the shnapps. I was well on my way to wherever it is you go when you down a bottle of shnapps in such manner and my bud's tirade floated right on past. Now I realize at once this reeks of the vilest asocial assholia and under normal circumstances I would concur, unfortunately there are no such critters as 'normal' circumstances in the military, unless you are inclined to debate the position that the military itself is a 'normal' circumstance under any circumstances, and all fluctuations of this mere temperature variances. Fine by me. In the mean time, the context to this apparent severe breech of manners was quite simply I had not merely stolen off for the holidays but returned from fourteen days in the field, and friend, let me assure you, no sensible person in-the-know puts down a pristine unopened bottle of delectable booze in front of someone who has just spent the last fourteen days molding his underwear to his ass like so much soggy cardboard and suggest to have at it and not expect said bottle of said booze to not be all there, shortly. Especially when said someone is an unabashed and confirmed boozer and whoremonger of the worst caliber.

The next thing I remember is us stumbling through the frozen night and Seoul, me in my shirt, leaning against my friend and him leaning against me. And us both chattering away and swearing and cussing and that kinda thing and it could be he was waiving a bottle of soju, a sad but necessary short-cut to enjoining me in my mindless state and I remember every now and then some well-intending Koreans would shout 'Melly Koorismassuuuu" at us which evoked nothing but a string of FUCK YOU's and FUCK OFF and DIE COCKSUCKERS and more of such, ambassadors mind you, and us two ambassadors, me and the vice-consul, swerving through the street looking for trouble, something readily found in Seoul for G.I.'s most any time at any rate.

We ended up in some pool hall, my buddy and me, with about twenty Korean thugs, true gangster types, and somehow my bud had gotten into a wager and I was lolling against a wall and barely conscious and for some reason I was like ah screw this joint and told my buddy I was getting outta there and dragged him with me and this mob of thugs closed on us and we got into a stand off and it was getting ugly but we were too drunk to do any proper math on our prospects of getting our asses kicked but good by these guys as we were slowly backing off toward the stairs and at some point in the shouting and pointing and threatening that tends to preceed butt stompings I lost my footing and tumbled ass over gut down six flights of stairs, never stopping on my way down and when I crashed at the bottom at last the fight was off cause the concensus was I had died of some sort of breakage or rupturage or maybe lots of both and my buddy and the thugs were standing over me surveying my remains when I realized I was surrounded and sufficiently startled from this dizzy aching stupor remembered something about shoving and shouting and us about to get it on and I jumped to my feet and started swinging at once and maybe the thugs were thinking if three-hundred steps and a boatload of gravity run amuck can't kick this drunk fuck's ass what are we gonna do but kill him to keep him down and somehow my buddy managed to drag me outta there and we were in the street again and to make matters more pathetic a stage-perfect snowfall drifted lazily down reminding us what had driven us to pursue our present course of self-imolation and the next thing I knew my buddy had dragged us both to the very middle of the Hannam Bridge and climbed atop it and was screaming into the wind and the traffic sloshing past and the dark water below and the Christmas spirit gently wafting down from the orange sky overhead and my buddy resolved to jump into the Han River some 200 feet below and me struggling with him to get him down from the goddamned thing and then finally, like some hostage negotiator type I had talked him into 'symbolically' jumping by offering clothing items to the goddess of Cold Black Water Death and this somehow satisfied his urge to be done with it all sufficiently and so in short order his scarf, shoes, socks, gloves and jacket went sailing into the night in a sincere tribute to the darkness below and he was ready to strip his pants off but the cold of the bridge had communicated sufficiently with his bared feet to convince him to call it a night and so him in his bare feet and me in my shirt the whole time leaning against each other shouting and crying all out, waddled back to his girlfriend's place, screaming and crying and cussing, my barefooted buddy and me. And little tiny snowflakes lazily drifted down on that Siberian breeze walloping Seoul, wholy indifferent to any of it.

By one or two in the morning I was on my back after a few hours of crawling back and forth to and from the bathroom and violent puking all the livelong merry way. The room was spinning and U2's Unforgettable Fire came to me and I thought I was hallucinating cause a young girl was next to me working my pants open and the best I could muster was what.... the... awesome! and now I know I'm dreaming and she kept glancing off toward the bedroom and the sound of serious hard sex mixed in easily with that U2 and this chick working my pants open more furiously hiked up her skirt and worked off her panties and threw herself atop me and started grinding away and me just lying there deader and sicker than fuck And if the mountain should crumble, Or disappear into the sea, Not a tear, no not I and ever louder groaning from the bedroom and this chick riding me getting into the act and me still flat on my back in a complete aching stupor. Helluva dream I thought and passed out promptly.

When I came to the place reaked of sweat and socks and stale vomit and every joint and bone in my body ached and I discovered a rich collection of bruises and when I had finally propped myself upright against the protestations of my back I realized a young girl sleeping on the couch and the whole hallucination from mere hours before had all been deliciously real.

And much later you'll be on the phone talking to your mom and she'll ask, how did you spend Christmas and you'll draw a complete blank. Ah... you know... stuff... which is really how you feel most times about this place when pressed to explain it... cause what's to explain...

It could be Tuesday, or Saturday, or Laundry Day, or Easter, or Labor Day. Christmas maybe, or so they say. Autumnal Equinox, Election Day, the first day of Spring... Thursday? I have no clue. I catch myself sometimes, midthought... is this it? Or this? Today? Is this the last of these? Does it all end here? Or here? Then I tell myself to shut the fuck up and knock that shit off and that shit gets shoved to the back, out of sight out of mindlike and I turn to weighter issues, like, are my mags stacked racked and packed and squared away and is all my shit good to go and are the batteries good and I din't furget my knife and a hundred little things of this nature, any one which might end it for you, or worse, a buddy.

Frankly, I don't know what day it is and I don't much care. There's only one day that matters, I'll be far away from here and turn my back on this shit once and for all, for good. I write it down now cause I have a sense I won't much have the stomach to return to this later. Ever.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi AST. And a Happy Christmas to you, wherever you happen to be at any given moment :o) I'd like to congratulate you, first off, for constructing blogworld's longest sentence - I am full of admiration! And I also wish you peace and safety and shit like that in the future, you tragi-comic fucker (that's a term of endearment, btw)

25 December, 2005 04:08  
Anonymous Janie said...

Future = Tomarrow

Great post.

25 December, 2005 08:14  
Blogger Sara said...

Thank you, once again for your Korea stories. I spent a Christmas away from home there, too! Too bad this one isn't as exciting, eh? Take care, bro.

25 December, 2005 17:21  
Blogger Diane S. said...

A fifth of peppermint schnapps??? I did that once and puked peppermint for three days solid. Thought about suicide.

Now I can't even stand the smell of peppermint scope anymore.

Merry fucking Christmas. Come home soon.

26 December, 2005 18:23  
Blogger One Veteran said...

Ho ho ho, merry deployment. Good post, Korea sounds slightly more fun than Baghdad, but it's all pretty shitty. At least in Korea you can get shitty. Then your state of sobriety and being are one and the same, and it's all good.

28 December, 2005 01:04  
Blogger The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

Snow or sand... snow or sand... hrm...

Well, either way, Merry F'ing Christmas, man.

28 December, 2005 06:28  
Anonymous April said...

Wow. It's like "On the Road," only in the Army, in Korea.

Jack Kerouac would be proud.

28 December, 2005 10:04  
Blogger Puma said...

Boozer. Whoremonger. You and your Ambassador ways. They will make you Secretary of State when you return :)

28 December, 2005 12:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey ST, this is going to be one of those posts that you probably hate but I hope you have a good holiday, christmas, new year and whatever else. I'll be thinkin about ya. You've got my e-mail if you need something let me know, the offer still stands. lata ho-monger ;)

29 December, 2005 06:16  
Anonymous Greg said...

I read somewhere that deployment in Iraq is a stress test for American soldiers: to see if we can deploy soldiers and give them none of the perks of previous wars. Hell, they give the British soldiers 2 cans of beer a day.

Throughout history, commanders have known that soldiers will fight if given the benefit of the spoils of war: women, booze, trophies, land...

Hang in there short-timer.

29 December, 2005 12:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Greg, women aren't exactly "spoils of war". They may have been treated as such before, but honestly, that's one of those things I'm glad has changed.

Being a feckless cad is one thing. Being a rapist is another.

03 January, 2006 00:35  
Anonymous greg said...

I was thinking about many, many years ago when women were spoils and the men would be killed--even the boys.

However, even in Vietnam the men could go to Saigon and have all manner of sexual desires met. (Like it or not, that is one of our top desires--I'd say in the top three. After air but before water.)

Where do our soldiers go? Baghdad?

08 January, 2006 02:08  

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