Tag Archives: honor

TLDR

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clenched-fistThis beach trip recollection wasn’t supposed to take this long to finish, but it is what it is. I’m cutting to the chase to tell the story I wanted to tell all along and you’ll see why my senior beach trip caused a sea change in my life that rolls like mighty waters to this day.

A clumsy stumbling woke me up on Thursday morning. I had a hangover stabbing pain in my neck resulting from an earring I barely remembered getting. At least it wasn’t a missing tooth or tribal facial tattoo. Then the day went to hell and pushed me a little farther down a road I had no idea I was on.

I had crashed on the couch; apparently it was as far as I could make it under a rare heavy load of Jack Daniels. Two other members of our entourage had stayed at their girlfriends’ much nicer digs. That meant the last guy sharing our room had the place to himself. Let me call him Adonis for the sake of anonymity. Just know he’s in this picture. He was pretty much perfect in every way that matters to a high school teen. I am firmly in the hetero camp and have always and forever batted from one side of the plate, but he was a gorgeous guy — tall, flowing hair, built like Michelangelo’s David but twice as cold and half as smart. He also came from money, drove an AMAZING car, and was captain of the football team and the wrestling team our senior year. His sculpted jaw line and dazzling physique cast my own self-esteem into such eclipse I told my first great love while we were still dating if she ever left me for Adonis, I would understand and wish her well to which she replied, “That’s great you feel that way ’cause if he ever asks me, I’m gone.”

Yeah, him. Pretty close likeness.

Yeah, him. Pretty close likeness.

Adonis could have whomever he wanted but he always wanted someone other than who he was currently with. Worse, he was like a grim, cruel Polynesian god who demanded a special kind of sacrifice — young virgins. He came down to the beach for a hunt with one quarry: a sophomore, sweet, naive, drop-dead gorgeous, and — like so many other girls — very into Adonis. I’m clear on this last point because she was a pretty good friend of mine then and Adonis was a frequent topic of conversation. Let’s call her Melpomene.  Adonis wanted little Melpomene in an extremely Zeus-like way. To his sorrow, however, she was a member of the “Christian promise ring wearers.” The beach can change things though. In this case, yesternight, Adonis happened upon her at a spirited gathering in another hotel room, which I too happened to attend. It’s germane to note though Mel claimed Christianity often and adamantly, like many of Southern extraction, Melpomene was a “buffet believer,” and though fornication was of the devil, the Almighty tended to wink at a little drunkenness.

Since all but the most obtuse of you see what’s coming, I need to be VERY clear about something, Adonis did nothing illegal nor strictly “wrong.” He DID NOT ply Melpomene with drink. Her cheerleader “friends” took care of that long before he showed up. Furthermore, he DID NOT “force himself” upon her. She was smitten with him and was playing an intense game of tonsil hockey by the time I took my leave of the soiree and — apparently — kept a date with a piercing parlor. Yes, Melpomene was drunk, but I’d have to say she was competent, if veeerrrryy uninhibited.

BoromirStarkStill, Eddard Stark had nothing on the idealistic boy I once was, and though crisp blacks and whites have blurred into greys on the monochromatic palette of grimdark reality, I cling to a few unshakable beliefs, and one is an honorable man sees no difference between a girl “drunk enough to say yes” and one “too drunk to say no.” Regardless after I left, the freshly minted pair went to our fleabag suite of rooms where Adonis put another v-card notch on his lipstick case. Melpomene stumbling from the room wrapped in a sheet to use our facilities woke me to my previously mentioned hangover. Our eyes met; she smiled a sheepish smile then turned away. Back then, I didn’t know what “The Walk of Shame” was.

I took the opportunity to slip into the bedroom and change clothes. The beds were pushed together and Tywin would have been satisfied had Tyrion and Sansa’s chamber been so accoutred following their wedding night. I changed clothes and pointedly ignored Adonis. While getting fresh clothes, I slid something from the bottom of my bag into my pocket. Emotion roiled my guts in a way I hadn’t felt it since I was a child when waves of impotent rage overtook me when someone bullied me, which was often.

In case you didn't know what a balisong is.

In case you didn’t know what a balisong is.

Out on the porch where the rest of the guys gathered, I sat down on the steps and tried to focus on a crack in the sidewalk. By-the-by, Adonis and Mel appeared, attired for the beach. When they reached the bottom step, I stood and drew the balisong from my pocket. I was spared a knowledge of prison life when, just as I stood up, a guy I’ll call “Big Bob” put his hand on my shoulder to gently but firmly press me back down onto the top step. He looked at me, shook his head and — as scalding rage tears wound down my blistered cheeks — quietly said, “I know, but it’s not worth the cost.”

Instead of riding back Saturday with Robby, I packed, met up with two guys from a town near home who were going back that afternoon, passed out from emotional exhaustion in the back seat by the time they left Horry County, and slept until they woke me up in front of The Little Barn. Mama saw the earring soon as I walked in, put her right index fingernail (she had such beautiful long nails) into the pyrite-plated hoop, and snatched it out with the words, “I prayed for a boy; not a girl.”

I’ve wanted to tell that story for a long time. I don’t know why.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

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An Open Letter to His Honor _____

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August 15th

The Year of Our Lord 2011

To the Honorable Judge _____

Your Honor:

Sir, I take pen (or keyboard) in hand in a state of highest dudgeon and fiercest wrath to address the grievous, near unbearable wrong you have perpetuated upon two of my dearest friends. I am speaking in regards to the mockery of justice which you — in your obvious, painful ignorance of morality, decency, and legal matters in general — handed down Friday last from the bench in family court of the capital of our fair state.

For reasons known only to God and no doubt sprung from His most rued creation, Lucifer, you have separated a caring, loving, hardworking, decent, God-fearing and law-abiding man of unimpeachable honor and impeccable upbringing from his dearly beloved son. You brought about this sorry state of affairs by granting full custody of an impressionable, naive child in the very bud of his adolescence – a time when he will need his father most of all — to a shameless hussy, inveterate liar, brazen barmaid, and unrepentant harlot.

To make matters worse — as if you in your ineptitude could manage such a feat — this Moll Flanders is recently wedded, if such “common-law attachments” are recognized in polite society, to nothing less than a slothful, n0-count, layabout sluggard unable to maintain gainful employment because he thirsts so for the waters of iniquity — Demon Rum.

Both of these pernicious and slovenly members of the dregs of society are known for wanton, unchecked consumption of opiates and narcotics gained by devious — possibly extralegal — means. Even the child is distressed by the amount and frequency with which this woman of the evening and her mewling consort take their ill-gotten “medication.” I maintain this lad is entirely too tender in years to dwell perforce in such a  chaotic state of fear and filth.

In stark contrast to the worthless, rum-addled companion of this remorseless camp follower, this young child’s father– after enduring years of loneliness spent tending only to the needs and care of his son — has but recently wooed and wed a veritable flower,  a guileless blossom of an old and distinguished Southern family. This true belle femme with education, refinement, and grace in addition to an angelic countenance has — in her brief time with the lad and his father — forged a strong and loving bond. The only logical reason for the boy’s near instant cleaving to this spotless magnolia bloom is she provides such a stark and complete foil to his opium-sotted mother.

Ever since making the young boy’s acquaintance, his stepmother has sought only his utmost good and had planned — before your imbecility of a ruling — to daily convey him to a quality school and from thence home again having never had to endure the complete lack of care he will experience in some wretched after-school day care facility. Of course, he will only be called upon to bear up under such adversity in the unlikely event his mother — if she can be called such in aught but a biological sense — and her ne’er-do-well companion manage to find someone charitable — or foolish — enough to provide either of them with employment.

You, Sir, who are sworn to protect the innocent, would rather thrust a child–  hardly more than a babe — into such a bottomless pit of perdition? And for what reason? The supposed quality of the SCHOOLS? The sex of the defendant? My good sir, it takes much more than test scores to make an excellent school and much more than a set of ovaries and breasts to make a mother! I see, however, that you are ignorant of such facts, which is all the more a shame as it is my understanding that men who sit upon Lady Justice’s bench usually possess vastly more mental acumen than you have exhibited thus far.

I press my case on by pointing out how this Corinthian woman claims to be a nurse — an angel of mercy — and yet I have seen personally a wound upon the boy’s person — obtained under her “watchful eye”  no less — infected upon the very cusp of blood poisoning. Did she avail herself of any of her “thorough and detailed medical training” to render succor and treatment to her child? No, she simply sent him off — wounded and suffering — to his father who, though not as educated in the arts of healing as this Lilith purports to be, cleansed the festering wound and bandaged it with tenderness and care so that within the weekend it was scarcely noticeable.

I allow to you that it grieves my heart to the deepest depths of my soul that this unbearable outrage, this incredible miscarriage of justice, did not occur in the halcyon antebellum days gone by. For if it had, IF IT HAD, I can assure you with utmost certainty I would forgo the posting of this missive in favor of having it delivered in person by my man with explicit instructions to closet with the suitable second of your choosing, there to make arrangements for us to settle this matter post-haste as men with implements of your choosing.

Unfortunately, decaying years and men’s callowness have robbed gentlemen — here I am generously giving you benefit of doubt as your conduct belies any notion you understand the term — of such final and effective means of gaining satisfaction when faced with such an act of reeking, ignoble dishonor as this which you have so callously foisted upon my kin and those nearest my heart. Such is the ignominy of these latter days that the only “weapons” I may use with impunity are the biting words of acerbic rhetoric.

In finality, Sir, I have no direct knowledge of your ancestry and so cannot accurately discern whether you be carpetbagger, Copperhead, or scalawag, but I am able to deduce from your actions that you are a scurrilous, low-born blackguard and a rank, base, and abject cur.

Good day to you, Sir. Good day and may Almighty God — who does not suffer the folly of the wicked but delivers true  justice in due time — reward you amply your due for this horrible, wicked act.

Sincerely,

G.S. Feet, MA, SoCV, Esq.

Flanders Field is Empty

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A very hale and hearty Mr. Buckles at the ripe old age of 106 at a veteran's function in Washington, DC.

For the United States of America, the guns of the Western Front have been silenced at last and an important period of US History passed from the realm of living memory yesterday evening. With the death of Mr. Frank Buckles at his home near Charles Towne, West Virginia, everyone who remembers the blood and the mud of the Western Front has left the battlefield. For our country, World War I — The Great War — that they said would “end all wars” now resides only on grainy film and yellowing newspaper pages.

 

I will leave Mr. Buckle’s obituary and eulogy to better writers than I can hope to be. The New York Times has an excellent write up about his life posted now. Instead, I want to speak to the passing, not of a wonderful and beloved old  warrior, but of history itself. Up until yesterday, if a thorny or ambiguous question about life in the trenches arose, a car ride to Charles Towne, West Virginia could straighten the mess out quickly once Mr. Buckles spoke five powerful words: “I know. I was there.”

Now, we only have the history books. World War I has joined the Spanish American War, the War Between the States, the Mexican War, the War of 1812, and The American Revolution as a historian’s bailiwick. The next great event in American History will most likely be the death of the last World War II veteran and at the rate those men and women — all in their 80s now — are leaving the world stage, it might not be as long.

A handsome 16 year old Cpl. Frank Buckles just before his shipping out to France.

The loss of the last living figure of an event like World War I is a huge tragedy in two ways. First is the human loss. Mr. Buckles had become quite famous in his later years (and he had PLENTY of later years) and our nation is diminished by his passing. Secondly though, is the loss of the eyewitness. Now historians can “interpret” and “reinterpret” America’s involvement in that long ago global event with impunity. No one is left who can speak for the multiplied thousands who lie beneath the white crosses in Belgium’s Flanders Field.

For now, Holocaust deniers have one insurmountable obstacle to the free spread of their cancerous message and that obstacle is the every shrinking handful of men and women with numbers tattooed on their arms and horror engraved upon their souls. For now, at least, those who would say “It never happened” must answer to the likes of my beloved friend Mrs. Marion Blumenthal-Lazan who spend years of her childhood in Bergen Belsen.

For now, those who would seek to cover up the grave tragedy that was the Cambodian Killing Fields have the survivors to answer to. The aging veterans of the Japanese army must still confront the living, breathing presence of the “comfort women” whom they abused so many years ago. War Hawks who would rush to hurl nuclear weapons at one another must still look into eyes that saw a bright flash above their two cities in 1945. Some are still among us who were there to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr tell a million people on the Washington, DC Mall that he had a dream.

In time, however, these memories, too, will fall silent — as silent as the grave.

What then? How will those events, so important to the world, our nation, and even to us, be remembered? It is said that history is written by the victors. That is not a true statement. History is written by the survivors and when they are gone, what is left is but hearsay and conjecture.

In Pace Resquiescat, Corporal Buckles. May you find your rest at long last.

Love to all of you as well.

Sincerely, G.S. Feet.

Veterans’ Day 2009

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In Flanders Fields
By: Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
.

From one who has never known the smell of battle and the stench of blood and fear to every veteran of every American war, popular and unpopular, won or lost, concluded or continuing, thank you so much for risking your lives and many times giving your lives in the service of your country. You did not ask if you believed in the cause for it was enough that you believed in the country that gave the call.

Bless you, each and every one of you.

I’d wash all y’all’s tired feet if I could.

Thank you again. Love y’all.