Monday, December 10, 2012

Saving My Bacon

If you found this contribution by googling bacon forget it. This is not a blog where every other post mentions bacon in order to get hits. Go elsewhere and drool.

The national election disaster is long past. It was what it was. Both the wife and I are finally out of a deep depression. Hell, most folks our age nearing the final years should be depressed. When all of what we have worked for all our lives is in danger of being piddled away by an out of control government what is there to look forward to? She took the election results a lot harder than I did and that surprised me. On the brighter side we live in Indiana, a state that takes its economic health and traditional American values, freedoms and liberty very seriously

The election results caused me to reflect on years past, where we were, where we are and where we're going.

Back in 1970 Vietnam wasn't exactly winding down. Conscription was still in effect. There was a national lottery system to rank the order of conscription by birth date. As an art school student I was downtown the day my lottery number was being drawn. During the morning break two young ladies, interior design students with whom I was close with, were waiting for me near the stairs. One had a tear while the other asked if I heard what my number was. 18 she claimed. You are number 18 on your 18th birthday. Just my luck.

Surely I would be drafted and sent off to southeast Asia. You see, if your number was under 150 your chances of being drafted into the military was assured. 150-250 was a more comfortable number. 250-365 meant you could relax, chances for you were slim to none.

When I arrived home that evening my parents were waiting. They were more shook up than I. Dad hated hippie war protesters. He was hawkish as I recall but looked at me and told me if I wanted to try to get out of serving or go to Canada he would be behind me and help. Looking at them I simply said,"I'll take my chances, if they want me I will go."

Two months later the letter came. I was being ordered to report to the selective service office in Hammond IN where a bus would be taking myself and others to Chicago for a military physical. A friend that lived down the street, Donnie, also received the same letter.

The night before we were to report Donnie and I did our Alice's Restaurant thing. His sister was a bartender at a lounge and he said she would allow us in and serve us. We were going to get blotto the night before our physical and arrive is the worst shape possible, placing as many odds in our favor as we could. We got blotto, went to Donnie's basement bedroom at 2am and went to sleep. We awoke at 8am, one hour after the bus had left.

I woke him up and told him. He gave me the finger. I got into my '61 VW Beetle and drove to the federal courthouse where the local selective service was located and turned myself in. After getting the evil eye the Sgt. told me they would reschedule. I called Donnie and told him to do the same or he could be looking at doing some time,

A month later we went to catch the bus. We were on time. It was a school bus loaded with other potential recruits. The bus took us to a  near west side Chicago warehouse and dropped us off. Inside the Marine Corp. had the entire building turned into a huge medical and mental exam outpost where residents from all over the metro area were being processed. We filled out papers.

Marines ran the show and they were hard corps (pun intended). Many of the others we spoke with had plans to fail tests, as many as possible. Some drank strange fluids the night before that may cause a failure to pass the urine test. Others pretend to be deaf. Some pretend geniuses failed the IQ test. The Marines had no mercy. Failing a test meant you had to take it over. And over and over until you passed. I figured this out early on and just did my best to get the hell out of there. Once a test was over the potential recruit was told to follow a certain color line leading to the next station. The floor was criss-crossed with multiple colored lines going all over the place.

To make a long story short, I passed and was sent to the bus. Those that failed were locked up in a sleazy motel for the night under Marine guard (Donnie was one) and dragged in the next day to re-test.

One month later my 1-A draft card arrived with a letter notifying me that if I were to leave my address for longer than three days I needed to report to the SS where I would be located.

Other friends of mine freaked out. Some with much higher draft numbers decided to enlist. By enlisting one was assured of serving in Germany, Italy, Hawaii, Alaska or some much saner place than Vietnam. The military promised career training to those enlisting. Me? I took my chances.

One friend named Terry who had a lottery number about 150 decided to enlist in the Navy. In exchange he was given a list of careers to train in. Since he was interested in electronics he attended DeVry. He checked the box that indicated he desired a career in electronics. After basic training in San Diego Terry was told that sorry, electronics classes were full. He had to make another choice. He noticed a line item that said "Corpsman". What is a Corpsmen he inquired. A medic he was told. Sounded good to Terry so he checked the box not knowing that Corpsman was a Marine medic. Since the Marines were a branch of the Navy Terry was going to be a Marine. Shit. Not only was he required to be a Marine for four years he would be in the Marine Reserves for another four years reporting once per month for a weekend at the Armory and two weeks of summer bivouac. Dumb, dumb and dumb. Me? I took my chances.

After a month or so passed President Nixon signed a bill determining that the military would do away with conscription and be served by an all voluntary force that is in effect to this day. If I had been drafted my life would not have been the same I am sure of it. In a way I was lucky, I was blessed.

When the election came around I voted for Nixon in the first election I was legally allowed to be a part of.

At the time everyone hated Nixon. Friends at art school shunned me for a while, especially my native Navajo and Sioux Indian stoner buddies. But that's another story in itself.

What it came down to was that Nixon saved my bacon or so I believed, and it was my desire to reward him with my vote for re-election.

If I had been drafted to serve I most likely would have never seen combat in Vietnam. The war was winding down and the conservative Nixon was the one to end a war began by liberal democrats. It didn't matter, the media hated Nixon and took him down for a meaningless petty theft that he lied about. You all heard of that story.

Back then saving my bacon caused me to react. Today, giving me someone else's bacon for free is another story.

Today people want free bacon and they re-elected a failure who promises them more free bacon. Free bacon he plans on both taking from someone else and borrowing from our enemies. The man is a national disgrace and the cause or our depression because it's our bacon he's after. The bacon we personally raised, nurtured, butchered and cooked. It's the bacon we saved by denying ourselves of things I could have spent it on. A lot of that bacon paid for my kid's higher education so they would be able to leave our nest debt-free. That was our gift of bacon and we chose to give it to them, nobody else made us do it.

But I have come to understand the free bacon takers and why they wanted to reward him with their vote based on what he has promised to give them. The difference is I voted AFTER I got my bacon saved. Today's free bacon takers haven't gotten theirs yet. They voted on the promise of free bacon, my bacon that I saved dammit!

Young people want their free bacon at my expense. They may get some, they may not. Often it has been said that we should not be leaving our children with debt, we need to leave them with an America we grew up in. I have come to the conclusion they don't want to live in the America we grew up in and they proved it last November. They want free bacon so I could care less about them. I say fvckem!

My two offspring often looked at me when I was angry, yelling at the jokers on the TV news and throwing my slippers at the television set. They questioned my conservatism. They are oblivious to where their future is going to be or so it seems. I love them and pray for them but because they and others of their generation vote as if they are voting for some American Idol they may get what they are asking for, maybe not. I say go with God, if he's still listening.

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