Tuesday, June 1, 2010



Tried to make an entry yesterday that didn't quite come all the way out. Started off with a barely coherent ramble on Memorial Day. As I typed, I happened to actually READ what I was saying. It didn't have anything to do with what I am FEELING. So I knew that no matter how hard I tried, that I wasn't going to get anywhere near where I intended to go.

Instead of forcing something out of me, I decided to sleep on what I was feeling and if it was still there, I'd write about it. At least put forward a better effort than I was giving it yesterday.


I hadn't mentioned any of the people that I see during my travels because I really don't feel that the separation between me and those I see each day is really all that great. People going along in with their lives. This is not to say I don't see some weird stuff going on that makes me raise my eyebrows. But there isn't a lot of room in my thoughts to consider what is observable about their mien. I can smell desperation on some, like the hustlers selling cologne and perfume, or the man I saw with his other half desperately trying to sell candy to provide something for his family.

One day the candy guy was not alone. His girlfriend and assuming Mother of their children was sitting in the shelter with him. He was talking loudly, his tone was borne of frustration with the world and with himself. I can't recall the clothes that they wore, but they had the tired look of having long served their turn and wanted for a washing. The candy man's lament is familiar in the hood, a ghetto version on the 'coulda been a contender' soliloquy, spoken to a person who has intimate knowledge of details but was not directly involved in any of the agonies that beset the speaker.

He was talking about how if he had stayed 'in the life', continued to sell drugs with his equals then he would be able to provide for his family. The rambling was edging on borders of delusion and by the tired look on the woman he was talking to face, it was one she had heard before and would rather not hear again, not out in public. The musty clothes of Value-Mart couture should have said enough. She sat there, not saying a word in response. What could she have said? I don't know how you can debate someone who is lost in another dimension where they made choices that led to their emergence as a Nino Brown from the movie 'New Jack City'. Instead of wondering why he wasn't that all-purpose hustler, she prolly was thinking why couldn't he be a fry cook or stocking shelves somewhere. Why he couldn't take whatever skills he did have and find a spot to use them to get a regular check.

She looked tired.

The trap of looking back is that the past sometimes looks better than it really was. A reason for that is under-utilization of the opportunity that came a person's way. The candy man was bemoaning his decision to or whatever it was that influenced that decision to get out of the game and the reality as I saw it was, honestly, he wasn't very good at it. He did admit in his ramble about 'catching a case' and that playing a very big part of his decline. "Well, there you go", I thought. Wouldn't be more prudent to say that because I was not as good at something as I thought I was at my chosen hustle, that is why I am selling boxes of candy at the bus stop to get money for my family? Hey, I am jus' sayin'... makes more sense to me than crying out in envy that your peers are able to make the most out of the game than you did.


The fictional 4077th Army Field Hospital is set where Camp Humphreys is located. I know because I saw the plaque commemorating the unit and I believe some of the stars of the show took a photo on post. Thought that was cool.

When I enlisted I knew that I wanted to be like Walter 'Radar' O'Reilly. Scoring about a billion on the ASVFAB test qualified me to pick out where I wanted to go first as well as what school I wanted to go for training. And I knew I wanted to make sure that I got a chance to see Korea.

Back then, my favourite Smiths song was the jaunty (to me, and that is what counts!!) 'This Charming Man'. I heard it as a coming of age story and that the opportunity to be all the things that a person didn't know they could be, was upon them. Also, it sounded cocky to me, spinning around saying to female soldiers, "Why are you wasting time with that, when you would rather be with 'this charming man' ". Also, the connotation that there was more floating around than a date on Saturday night was dismissed. That is what the line 'why ponder life's complexities when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat' symbolized for me. Those things didn't seem to matter, the complexities that people sometimes get lost in. I know that they didn't to me.

While the enmity towards my family was at low ebb, I still thought about the world at large. I remember how when leaving AIT for the Christmas holiday before I would journey over the Pacific, I told a cat I was cool with that it was better if we let the good times we had at Fort Jackson be that. No need to stretch and act like we are going to be writing back and forth, keeping up with one another. Even then, I was more focused on going forward and leaving for the Langoliers the memories of the past.

Even when I have spoken about my lack of souvenirs from my travels, it is more for OTHER people's benefit. I lived the moment... and that has always been more than enough for me. In short, good or bad, what is past for me, usually is left there.


Couldn't have been 'Hawkeye and Trapper John' because that pair was more on equal footing. Like the Celtics 'big three' of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, you couldn't pick either Hawkeye or Trapper and say they were 'the guy'. But when Trapper left and was replaced by BJ Honicutt, you could see a 'difference' between them. But nothing readily apparent. BJ was more of a sidekick who had his own identity apart from Hawkeye (did they ever say what 'BJ' stood for on the show?).

It is amazing to think that the last episode of M*A*S*H held the record for most watch show until the last Super Bowl. The end of that show has been on my mind, because that is where I met the SFC, and of all the people in my life that I have called a 'friend', along with my roomie in Greenboro, she is one that I can say is a friend without reservation.

The dynamic we had was not that different from Hawkeye and BJ's interaction with one another. We did our on goofs as well as doing goofs together. And it felt like we spent a lot of time together as people on the posts in the town we were stationed, lumped us together. I think that our names had a lot to do with it... she has a great name and mine is vanilla enough to accent it.

I don't know if we are going to remain close. While there was a wack 'After M*A*S*H' show, they essentially left what happened after the war to the viewers imgaination. Do you think that Hawkeye ever got with BJ once they were back 'in the world'?


LceeL said...

I saw that post in my reader - and you made your point. But then, a like-minded soul WOULD get it. Sarah Palin (just as a representative figure mind you), on the other hand, wouldn't have a clue.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Having a friend like either BJ or Hawkeye is priceless. You need to continue to cultivate that friendship.

Her Side said...

Big Mark, I didn't even finish reading this awesome post yet... Because I'm stuck on something you said... Something that makes me want to overflow with written word because the truth is holding me like a vice:

The trap of looking back is that the past sometimes looks better than it really was.

Biblical stories draw a picture of freed slaves who lamented their walk to freedom while salivating about "master's" food from way back when.

I remember the time I rewrote history after my divorce - thinking life would be so much better if he came back. I was miserable when he was there. But I was afraid of the unknown after he left.

Okay... Going back to reading. If your words smack me again, I'll be back with another comment. LOL

Des's big daddy said...

There was an episode toward the end of the show's run where Hawkeye was determined to find out what "BJ" stood for, because all BJ said it stood for was "BJ." At the end, he revealed that his mother's name is "Bea" and his father's "Jay" and that "BJ" was their compromise name for him.