Chest Bread Continues...
or the FU Chronicles - Part II
LET US continue the discussion I had started towards the end of Chest Bread Part I. I shall begin with the first of the ridiculous living spaces I have occupied in my journey of survival through war. As you read this, let me also stress that I am writing these descriptions not to gain sympathy from readers. Nor is this a passive-aggressive effort to blame the world for my PTSD. It is an amusing (you'll see) way to provide some FU background on what makes my PTSD tick.
The Grand Gandhara Hotel and Mortar Lounge
The Grand Gandhara Hotel and Mortar Lounge from a distance
THAT DAMNED PLACE was so cold; it was a freezing desert. Every night was crystal clear. Consequently, any heat accumulated during the day escaped with levels of determination rarely found in the terrorists we held at the Hotel and Mortar Lounge. The heat surely did not listen to our pleadings, and it did not care much for the Special Forces (SF), as they considered themselves hot enough on their own. The terrorists were not all cowards either, and to present such an image to you, dear reader, would be rather churlish of me. Unfortunately for the terrorists, they had been collected after losing to our fearsome SF, bundled up by them in a chopper, and lovingly dropped off where we were. They had no inclination to escape; G-d* forbid they had to deal with our fearsome SF again.
SOMETIMES seeing the terrorists' poor mental health upon receipt, I wondered how our SF folks could be so scary for them. When we got them straight from the battlefield, the terrorists were usually incoherent with fear and appreciative of even the most diminutive small talk. You should have seen them! The poor Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists, "Tali-wackers," as we called them collectively, were reduced to a mental state that would be considered shameful for even a 2-year-old to manifest in public. The SF operators I would talk with were always matter-of-fact with me, polite, even. Admittedly, if one were to apply the scandalous Traditional Masculine Ideology (TMI) Scale** to the scenario, the SF operators would be at the very top. According to academics, the SF demi-gods "portray and maintain a specific social persona which reflects toughness, emotional invulnerability, heterosexual dominance, and success, as well as an avoidance of anything deemed 'feminine.'"
PARDON THE DISTRACTION, but the "deemed feminine" part caught my eye upon reading it in the research paper. I'll be honest with you, dear reader. Contrary to the SF, MI soldiers welcomed most things "deemed feminine," all other TMI criteria notwithstanding. Not that we wanted even accidentally to come close to any creatures "deemed feminine," considering how offensively filthy we all were. Due to a complete lack of water, none of us had taken a shower in over a month. Besides, all the "deemed feminines" were keenly aware of the ever-changing SF eye candy the chopper would bring to us every few nights. Our problem was that G-d had made us with superior intellect and made the SF guys muscle-bound samples of exquisite manhood. As the myth goes, while making the U.S. Army Soldier, He realized that it was impossible to make a being with the intelligence of MI and the SF's good looks. We had agreed, therefore, to a compromise. The mighty MI soldier voluntarily sacrificed broad shoulders and narrow waists for broad waists and narrow shoulders. The boorish SF surrendered their brain capacity to us for, well, looks.
IT WAS THUS ordained that MI soldiers could display their dominance, not over heterosexuals but over faulty tent pegs that they had to bang repeatedly into new holes. Erm... you know what I mean. But enough about MI superiority over the SF demi-gods. Let's get back to why we didn't find the demi-gods scary. Imagine this ludicrous scenario:
A Special Forces soldier in his natural habitat
The SF demi-gods had flowing long blond, red, or brown hair and matching beards. As they walked toward us in slow motion, the billowing dust from the chopper blades swirled around their heads, causing moonlit halos. It was easy to discern their exquisite, rippling musculature and notice that their winter jackets were a tad too tight around their biceps with just a glance. They sometimes carried terrorists and sometimes trash bags of captured documents. Both draped wistfully over the massive trapezoids and latissimus dorsi muscles that resembled hilly topography in the distance. In short, the SF demi-gods looked like angry Santa Clauses who had just had eaten Rudolph. As far as we were concerned, they were the Santa Forces. And they clearly were not scary. Not for us, no Sir!
EVERY MI SOLDIER worth his salt was writing fierce emails about dreadful living conditions to their Congresspersons. Indeed, the living conditions in the Grand Gandhara Hotel and Mortar Lounge were horrific.
Our Tent. I am the one faking a smile
First, it was so cold that were it not for a Korean war-era tent heater, the 20-odd people in our tent would perish in the night. That old heater worked by sipping JP-8 fuel (jet fuel) and burning it. The damn thing looked like it was right out of a M*A*S*H TV series set, but it worked like a champ. One night someone mistakenly turned up the rate of the drip-drip of the JP-8 fuel. That night as we were all jolted out of our sleep by the criminally loud bangs of illumination rounds launched from a close-by mortar tube, we realized we were all sweating. Profusely. We slowly rotated in our sleeping bags like hotdogs on a grill to see the entire heater and long exhaust tube glowing deep red. A few of us were able to theorize, due to the aforementioned superior intellect, that "f**k this f***ing thing, it will f***ing explode, f**********k!" After a few panicked calculations, we figured that a painful death by superheated liquid metal shrapnel was a better fate than stepping out of the tent into the brutal cold. We happily went back to sleep. It is, of course, noted now in MI lore that an unsung MI hero, our Savior, did get up to slow the fuel flow rate. He paid dearly for his sacrifice. We had heard him loudly cursing in pain after using muscles in his fingers and arms that were utterly unaccustomed to any manual labor. Take that, you Santa Forces!
OUR WONDERFUL PLACE of residence wasn't all exploding heaters, though. We had detonating trash heaps too! But that's for later. I'd rather talk about our famous Rose Garden first. Yes! We had a Rose Garden!
The Rose Garden
The highly gullible held their Sunday services there, and a majority would joyfully attend. As an infidel Hindoo, I would also go, the piker I became typically after a 16-hour workday. Listening to the Chaplain drone about his gracious, loving, and caring G-d was the only guaranteed available entertainment. The only other way to get that detached from reality was to smoke the opium that locals would, I am sure, bring to us happily if asked. But G-d was far less risky and had fewer withdrawal symptoms. More importantly, wasting time while appearing to worship G-d, an imaginary construct, provided an excellent "cover for status" for being unabashedly slothful.
THE OTHER oft-ignored benefit was that I could freely inhale the ammonia fumes from the garden. Largely devoid of flowers, the garden was consistently watered by high-quality American male (mostly) piss each night. Besides the stench, the only thing growing in that G-dforsaken land was the comfort levels of men swinging out their d**ks in public to piss. Of course, we didn't stop at d**ks. We had the Full Monty "excretory exercises" each morning. Taking shits in iron barrels in latrines without doors made it common to see your colleagues, male or female, during the most vulnerable and intimate moments of their adult public existence. A good outcome of our public shittery was that the full shit barrels were destined to become part of the thriving local economy. We paid local workers to come to burn our daily shit with JP8 (airplane) fuel each morning.
The Shitters and Shit Burning Barrels
They were happy to do such jobs as we paid them in US Dollars. The bad part was the stench. Try waking up to that G-ddamned unforgiving stench. My destroyed nasal passages still cannot choose between the JP8+shit burning barrel smell or the famous baked-in shit smell of the porta-potties in the excruciatingly hot desert sun that I would come to marvel later in my journeys.
Oh, and what is Chest Bread? You'll find out eventually. Just remember the FU.
* I learned this way of writing G-d from a good Jewish friend. I liked the concept, so I stuck with it.
** Tucker, Leigh & Govender, Kaymarlin. (2008). "Making a Perfect Man": Traditional Masculine Ideology and Perfectionism among Adolescent Boys. South African Journal of Psychology. 38. 551-562. 10.1177/008124630803800309.