Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The head shavers were civilians—a fat fuck and his women. The women had silver-blue permanents; there were two of them and they were awful. So was the fat fuck. It wasn’t enough for them that we had to pay them money for these haircuts that we were ordered to get; they talked shit to us too. They cut a kid’s head so it was bleeding pretty good and he let on that he minded and they said he was a sissy. They wanted to know if he was from San Fran-sissy-co. Then they cut another kid and the blood was running down and they thought it was funny. They didn’t get bored of it. They had special vacuum clippers that sucked the hair up as they cut. The suction pulled the scalp up into the blades; that was how come they drew blood so much. The fat fuck and his women had to talk real loud so they could hear themselves over the sucking sounds. I wished death upon them. Then we got a hundred fucking shots. We got all our Army stuff: uniforms, boots, helmets, shit like that. We took our papers with us everywhere. They signed our papers. This was in-processing. When we weren’t in-processing we sat in an auditorium and they taught us things: left face, right face, the Army song, whatever. When it was time to eat we acted like the food was really bad even though it wasn’t that bad. One kid said, “I’m a spook. That’s counterintelligence.” Another kid said, “I’m an eleven bravo.” That was infantry. But he couldn’t be an 11B because all the 11Bs went through at Fort Benning. Now we knew he was a liar. The group I came in with was B1, as in bravo one. That night another group came in, B2. We thought the B2s were decadent children. We said, “These bravo twos are ate-the-fuck-up.” We said, “They sure are.” The B2s thought we were weird losers. The mutual enmity between B1s and B2s lasted three days; then we were redistributed at random into three platoons called Alpha Company, and no one could remember who anyone was. The universal baldness made it difficult to recognize people. They packed us into cattle cars and we rode up the hill to boot camp.
A picture hung on the wall of our parlor. In it, a woman was taking a shirt from a clothesline. She had clothespins in her teeth and it was windy and a boy was tugging at her dress. The woman looked like she was in a hurry and the whole scene gave me the idea that, just outside the frame, full, dark clouds were gathering. But that was not what it was. It was paint. So I decided right then and there to see the picture as it really was. I stared at the thing long and hard, trying to only see the paint. But it was no use. All my eyes would allow me to see was the lie. In fact, the longer I gazed at the paint, the more false detail I began to imagine. The boy was crying, as if afraid, and the woman was weaker than I had first believed. I finally gave up. I understood then that it takes a powerful imagination to see a thing for what it really is.
Death is a funny thing. Not funny haha, like a Woody Allen movie, but funny strange, like a Woody Allen marriage. When it’s unexpected, death comes fast like a ravenous wolf and tears open your throat with a merciful fury. But when it’s expected, it comes slow and patient like a snake, and the doctor tells you how far away it is and when, exactly, it will be at your door. And when it will be at the foot of your bed. And when it will be on your flesh. It’s all right there on their clipboards.
Apology letter from the brain
I’m sorry, okay? But can I say something?
Look, I admit I wasn’t perfect. No one is perfect. That’s a fact. Speaking of facts, don’t you think we all need to take a minute and decide who is right and who is wrong? Every side is different; it’s just that my side seems more right. I am not just saying that because it’s my side. I think a lot of other people would agree with me if given the chance.
If I upset you in some way, please know that wasn’t my intention. I didn’t know how sensitive you were. It’s obvious I can set you off very easily. That’s not an insult, it’s just an observation.
I think it would help if we talked about this more and argued about who is telling the truth. I would like to see you in person to tell you how this situation has affected me. I may use this opportunity to bring up other times you have hurt me in the past. If possible, I would like to hurt you back. Either way, I want to be in control.
Until then, take care and please remember I reached out first.
Poehler, Amy (2014) Yes Please.
- What's wrong?
- Did something happen at school?
- I have something that will cheer you up.
She handed me a large white envelope. It was addressed to My Biggest Fan. I tore the envelope open and pulled out a large color photograph of Steve Austin. There was handwriting across the bottom of the photo.
For Sharon, it read. Love, Lee Majors.
- Who's Sharon? I asked my mother.
- Who's Lee Majors? I asked.
- They probably got your name wrong, she said.
- Which name? I asked.—Sharon or Lee Majors?
- Sharon. Lee Majors is the actor.
- What actor?
- The actor that plays Steve Whatever His Name Is.
- But I didn't want an actor's signature. I wanted Steve Austin's signature.