Great Mistakes

A week after my 21st birthday, I entered Navy Bootcamp and became a RICK, then a SMURF, then a CUNT, rather, preferably a Smurfy CUNT, or I would like to think, a CUNT that has his/her shit in one sock. It is Kafka’s larval stage before earning Seaman’s stripes.

I am a Navy Brat, my father and stepfather have a combined 50-years of service, and though I was unprepared for the depth of the humor, I accept my invagination nonetheless. Others in my Company had trouble adapting to the sudden double sex change reassignment, the added psychic castration. Shit, forced transgender trauma is not in the brochure. Trading barbs such as Pussy and Bitch had profound identitary meaning, let alone the learning to clench that sphincter muscle more often than not.

Having visited the barber, one androgynous asshole looks as good as another. The gangbanger matches the boy scout. The geek smooth as the jock. The steer looks no different in the shower with the queer. East Coast blends West Coast blends Midwest. Punk is Country/Western is Grunge is HipHop is Rocker. City is rural. North is South. The white man is the black man is the yellow man is the red man is the brown man. The craniometrist would mistake the Madison Avenue Chinese Jew for the twangy northern Louisianan Taekwondo black belt. The 32 year old is as ageless as the 18 year old. The high school dropout as bookish as the college student. The misfit is no different than the dimwit. Company 071 reporting to duty. There was a certain pride, born-from-the-wrong-hole-creepy. Everyone his own Uncle Fester.

Bootcamp, also known as Great Lakes, Great Mistakes, Illinois, transforms CUNTs into Seamen. Imagine marching phlegmatically, “nut to butt”, then slipping on the ice and field fucking the pecking order, like marauding mindless sperm, to the motto, “Tough as Nails” and “Bad to the Bone.” And we didn’t have a boner to spare in the entire Ricky outfit, and yet that throbbing phantom limb. The U.S. Navy is the most powerful in the world and the highest trained.

But, until You graduate from Great Mistakes, You are a CUNT, and NOTHING else, a CUNT, a Civilian Under Naval Training.

- - -

postHumanism, a practice

Some cushion is in place to ease the defamiliarization of one’s body. It’s like a literacy test. The Navy economizes syllables, hence so many acronyms, otherwise its wasting breath. I guess the tradition abides “Loose Lips, Sink Ships.” The less said, the safer. The further away the Recruit is from his own name, the more he is owned. The Company Commander (CC) owns him. Bootcamp owns him. The Navy owns him.

So, RECRUIT is shortened to RICK, as in “eh Rick.” Get in line Rick. Do you know what the fuck you’re doing Rick? Don’t you know your left foot from your right foot, Rick? Why do you look at me like that Rick? Are you queer Rick? Do you have a hard-on for me Rick? What, you have a limp dick, Rick? Why the fuck do you think you can make it in my Navy, Rick? There are too many names to remember, and Recruit is too formal and polite, has respect invested in it. Even, the Recruit’s stenciled last name for all to see above the left pocket of working blues, or above the right rear dungarees pocket, fails to elicit a human address. Yet, moving from having a name to sharing universally, Rick, is painless, seemingly part of team building, all for one and one for all in name and spirit. Having said this, the RICK next learns of the inhuman address.

- - -

We were Smurfs

A dermatological wonder unfolds at Uniform Issue, when RICKs trade civilian clothes for Smurfy blues. As from a cocoon, though unalarmed, a RICK emerges a SMURF. Soon the dreadful mornings. Reveille involves a quick inspection of bunk and compartment in general. Smurfs leave a nasty presence. Blue Smurf Turds sneak beneath the bunk, or in the frame, in the locker, on the window sash, anywhere. Smurf Turds are the ubiquitous lint balls and pilings born from Navy sweats. They reproduce exponentially every night. Think Tribbles and the trouble they cause every morning, and every surprise inspection. Murphy’s Law says that for every clean sweep, there’s a Smurf Turd waiting to shit on your parade.

Smurf’s are known for their optimism. The opportunistic Ricks claim the popular names: Hefty Smurf, Handy Smurf, Jokey Smurf, Grouchy Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Dreamy Smurf, Lazy Smurf, Wild Smurf, Vanity Smurf, and for the oldest Rick, Papa Smurf. Baby Smurf was given to the youngest. There were several. So it was also given to the smallest and baby face of them all, a Rick from Louisiana who punctuates with, “You must be on Quaaludes.” Quaalude Smurf earned a place later. The other Ricks conger Smurfy names for themselves. Former identities or past lives resurface. Gangsta Smurf from Compton. Lumberjack Smurf from outside Medford, Oregon. Cajun Smurf from Lafayette, Louisiana. Stoner Smurf and Grunge Smurf from Seattle. Serial Killa Smurf from Waco. Boxer Smurf from NYC. Then there’s the Smurfs with outstanding physical features. Rat Smurf from Lancaster, CA. Peanut Smurf from Ft. Worth. Fat Lips Smurf from some inner-city. Then adaptations on the last name included Labby Smurf, Big Johnson Smurf, White Woody Smurf and Black Woody Smurf, Marmaduke Smurf, and Calvin Kline Smurf. Oddly, the 80 Smurfs escape the diminutive form. No one is called a Smurfette.

Now the genius. Before any Smurf Company fits comfortably in its new skin, another rapid intervention. It’s crudely surgical. But lampooning cartoon characters for a couple days is the required ambush.

Bootcamp succeeds because it provides literally, a carrot. Take something away and offer to return it. Like Freedom. Like a suspended driver’s license. Like love. That’s motivational. At first a Smurf thinks because he’s as Blue as Navy Blue, he’s as close as he can get to being officially in the Navy. He can taste his stripes. Clear sailing, right? Then, the stroke of that genius, RICK/SMURF is castrated, and furthermore, invaginated, and renamed, CUNT. The optimism is retracted, because in his CUNT name, he is reminded he’s still a Civilian Under Naval Training. That said, the Recruit learns about desire and will prove himself penis-worthy. He will despise the other penis-less CUNTs because their lack is a constant reminder of what was lost. With pun intended, a CUNT pecking order emerges. Service demands you suffer being a blue CUNT.

CC has ways to elide transvestism. He holds up the carrot. He will slip and refer to a few CUNTS as just Broke Dicks or Limp Dicks, or diseased Drip Dicks. You rely on slippage. You yearn for slippage because in dysfunction, you are given a hope of a residual maleness. Even residual maleness has a familiar name, Dead Rick, or just Rick. The optimist identifies with a broken apparatus as opposed to a phantom one. Something must be said about the call and response “Attitude Check,” another form of positive reinforcement. “Attitude Checks” are yelled at times of lethargy or resignation, when formations are about to crumble. The response: simultaneously grabbing your Rick and screaming, “Fuck You!”

CC: Attitude Check!
Company: Fuck You!
Company: FUCK YOU!

What a relief, Rick is still there between the legs.

CUNTs are not exactly amputees. That prized phantom limb comes out when you pee—I mean squatting is for sissies even amongst CUNTs. The stalls do not have doors. So it becomes public knowledge if you do number 1 in the 2-position; or, that prized phantom limb comes out when you soap your dick, nothing like good personal hygiene of a vestigial organ—careful not to advertise submissiveness—so hold on to that bar and do not relax that muscle; or, that prized phantom limb comes out in your bunk, and you’re masturbating in to a sock, just to remind yourself, you’ve got one to stroke after all. Use it or lose it.

Sadly, not all CUNTs are the same.

- - -

The anatomy of a sock party
begins with the CUNT

It is past 10pm. It is 3 weeks past my birthday. A record blizzard sweeps the Lake. I am on my top bunk staring at the ceiling. I am a Section Leader. I am responsible for the improvements and likewise shortcomings of the CUNTs in my group. I am deciding when to be part of this. The first Ninja Mission is tonight. What about tomorrow? Who leads the second Ninja Mission? Or the third? Or the fourth? How I choose will reflect on my leadership and on my initiative. My hand is where it should be, gliding on my Smurf Thigh, resting on my Smurf Cunt.

I am RICK, SMURF, or CUNT. Where am I beneath RICK, SMURF, or CUNT? In its displacement, where did “I” go? Always a form of resistance emerges from such structure. I am Labby. When I scowl, I am LDog. Still other days I am Triever. These are the names, the others CUNTs know me by. The other CUNTs have their own names too, several with names associated with dogs. There is Scrappy. There is Short Dog because he thinks he’s ghetto white badass. Other days he’s Half-a-Loaf and you just want to remove the Exit Only sign and butter his corn-fed biscuit, then on days when he’s absolutely intractable he’s fucking Chickenhawk. There is Snoop, black, Jerry Curls before the shears. There is Marmaduke because his last name sounded like the dumb dog. His pouty cheeks droop with utter amazement that he’s unwelcomed. There is YeoBitch, and though he proves he’s not gay with his Hugh Hefneresque photos with blondes timely arriving at every mail call to quiet the ranks, his silk Oriental pajamas speak fag. I was so infuriated with his photographs; I wanted to ask the strippers of North Beach’s Lusty Lady (where a close friend works) to send pics to share in the barrack’s version of show-n-tell, “Ricky TV.”

We do not share these names with the Company Commander. Although, the Company Commander contributed the name YeoBitch, aka Yeoman. We do not reveal these names outside our unit, though every Company has a YeoBitch, a secretary, otherwise known as the Company’s cocksucker. He is the Company’s attendance taker, a phantom pecker-checker. These names distinguish one CUNT from another. These names are what are left after duress of a long day. We can curl in to bed with our names when that thing between our legs fails to stir. The name is a form of resistance.

So tonight every Section Leader is awake, staring at the ceiling, licking his/her wounds, thinking about responsibility and pride, vindication and retribution, and rehearsing what needs to be done about his/her GOMER. Even YeoBitch has a GOMER. Every Company officer is also a Section Leader, though, not every Section Leader is an officer. God Smurf, the Recruit Religious Petty Officer, must be praying for his GOMER’s soul? (God Smurf kept his named. God Cunt was too indecent.) I am also the Recruit Mail Officer. I just enjoyed the pun in that, plus I get the inside scoop—who got busted and are going home for pot brownies in care packages. Then, there’s the Recruit Athletic Petty Officer, responsible for our daily PT? How’s his armor? Are they deciding which among us will follow the lead of the RPOC (formally RCPO, or Recruit Chief Petty Officer), the lead CUNT, formerly All-Star Smurf, and himself a Section Leader?

In the bunk beside mine, Oregone, formerly Lumberjack Smurf, from a declining mill town outside Medford, sleeps at the bottom. I remember what he wore before Uniform Issue. He had a red Woolrich flannel jacket. He needed to shave twice a day. He is my GOMER. A GOMER is the lowest form of CUNT. His thick fingers are unsuitable for the delicate tactile skills required to pass Departmental Material Inspection (DMI). His naval future hinges at these details. The logic, if you can’t fold your skivvies correctly, then the Navy can’t trust you with million-dollar equipment. Maybe instead, that thousand dollar toilet.

Oregone is Hobbit-built. He wears Navy-issued Birth Control Glasses (BCGs), thick-rimmed and black. There’s nothing retro about them. He’s the type who can’t be humiliated, and yet it’s a successful form of motivation. He has a wife and two kids. He is 7 years my senior. I like him because he is quiet and patient. He performs the PT superbly, better than I can sometimes, except for the run. Looking at him, he’s comfortable with a chainsaw or an axe. He’d probably shot more wild game than all of the Company combined. He is perfectly rugged for Navy stoop labor. Perhaps, a future Seabee. Despite my efforts, his 45-degree bed folds are crooked. He forgets to leave a fold on his wool blanket. His uniform is starched but creased in the wrong places. His name appears stenciled by an illiterate. Yes, he hunkers down after repeated instruction, but he doesn’t get it.

In the Company, there are at least 6 GOMERS who consistently fail DMI. The worst of them also fail PT. The eightieth sit up is a bridge to far. Gravity denies them the fortieth pushup. The mile run is one lap too long. Another 12 GOMERS are at the cusp of being identified, but they show slow and steady improvement. So at least 6 Section Leaders are awake on their bunks tonight determining the necessary disciplinary actions. The other Section Leader, ready to lend a hand—a sock.

Yes, you want to think Vincent D’Onofrio’s oafish Marine simpleton in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987). However, Oregone is better than that. He is better than most CUNTs. He is probably the best of the GOMERs, but still a GOMER. He is better behaved. He does not gossip or take part in the sex-baiting. He does not boast nor complain. He’s not squeamish. Still he is a weak link.

His naval enlistment is of economic Necessity, whereas mine, Indulgent, done on a stepfather’s dare to know “real” work, or even a writer’s lark.

As a Company, the national call to duty or patriotism did not figure into enlistment. Somalia and Serbia were lesser evils, Iraq had a No Fly Zone, Iran was Israel’s problem, the Soviet republics were realigning, and North Korea, a hollow saber. The Navy promised Oregone a high school diploma in Bootcamp, and with that certificate, job placement from sea to shining sea.

I wasn’t hurting. I was in school. I had a full-time job as a boutique hotel manager! I wore a tie. Other days, I wore turtlenecks. I had my own rent-controlled, Scandinavia Design furnished studio above Raleigh’s and Annapurna, right across the street from Cody’s Bookstore. For two years before I turned 21, three bars served me alcohol. I was putting money away for a full-body tattoo, care of Zebra. I had a good workout regimen. I didn’t need the military to stay fit. Though, I smoked two packs a week. Marlboro or Camel Filter, the occasional clove. Yet, I was restless. I was curious.

I knew I wanted to be a writer and I knew I would eventually make a subject out of my father and stepfather’s military service. I knew I was going to critique the Navy. I wanted to experience the forces that transformed, from what I was told, likable well-rounded men, into husbands with violent alcoholic outbursts.

I had entered the Navy speaking a vocabulary rooted in critical theory and in new narrative. Meconnasiance. Ressentiment. The Phantasmatic. The Phallocentric. Ambivalence. Anxiety. Disidentification. Heteronormativity. Deviance. Rupture. Indeterminacy. Fragment. Text. Metatext. Dialectic. Eternal recurrence. The Panoptic. Subjectivity. The Gaze. Identity Politics. Palimpsest. Slippage. Hybridity. Ontology. Decolonization. Gender. Otherness. Orientalism. The Subaltern.

I thank Mo Phelan for my early introduction to Judith Butler. I met the professor at UC Berkeley after her presentation on Willa Cather’s “Tommy, the Unsentimental.” Immediately, I bought Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990) and Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (1993), and quickly filled myself with Foucault, Derrida, Witting, Kristeva, de Beauvoir, Lacan, Haraway, Saussure, Barthe, Baudrillard, Chomsky and etc. No wonder, I frustrated my peers and my Company Commander. I felt unthreatened and “unmoved” by the institutional emasculation. I was not moved by (penis) envy nor moved to queer weakness. Though, it must be Mona Simpson’s Anywhere But Here (1987) and The Lost Father (1992) that gave me the narrative vision to pursue the paternal arc. She read at Cody’s months before I left, and her novels compelled me to allegorize immigrant Youth and Asia, or the conflict of Youth not Asia. Euthanasia’s homophonic pun is intentional.

Hell, because I had lived in Berkeley, half the women I knew could kick my ass. In the climate of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” my Lesbian mothers prepared me emotionally for the Navy in a way my birth mother taught me how to fold skivvies, polish belt buckles, shine boondockers, iron working blues.

I march like a CUNT. I did my push-ups like a CUNT. I was tear-gassed like a CUNT. I eat green eggs like a CUNT. I shower like a CUNT. Unlike the other 79 CUNTS in Company 071, granted, I accept CUNT as compliment, as promotion.

My minor education demonstrated forms of resistance, of subversion—how to redirect retaliation. I am not exactly a believer of Thoreauvian nonviolent civil disobedience. There’s a breaking point.

Bootcamp offers some relief. One form is Sex. The fantasy of it—to have the privilege to represent the United States at every port-of-call, and fuck from dusk till dawn. Every CUNT savors getting his cock sucked by a teen hostess while getting tattooed in a Singapore parlor. The inducements include Adelaide and Perth, the Australia call-boards. There is always a lady in waiting. Me? Do I really want to go to Thailand just to see if Bangkok deserves the title, “Fuck City of Asia?” And yes I do. The closure of Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Force Base, in the Philippines, displaced 50,000-plus prostitutes, and that’s a conservative estimate. I want to see where the jobs went. It can be my homage to Spalding Gray who once stayed at the boutique hotel when he staged Monster in a Box at Zellerbach. I will title it: Swimming to Bang Cock.

Another relief is Sunday—the opportunity to worship. I chose Temple. Temple was hosting its version of the “Jewish Film Festival.” I screened Europa, Europa (1990). It’s a penis as passport/stigma coming-of-age Holocaust film. Solomon Perel can’t afford to be nude. He appropriates the identity of a rising Aryan war-hero, but must fend off Nazi lovers. He learns he cannot reverse circumcision. He is lucky for the dormitory’s closed showers. In Bootcamp, the showerroom is communal. Length and girth, foreskin or circumcision, flaccid or boner, are public knowledge. Failure to reveal is suspect behavior. I was the only Asian CUNT in a room of 40 Jewish CUNTs. I felt closer to them than to my own Company.

- - -

The anatomy of a sock party
begins with the Gomer

The barracks is quiet. Snoring. Outside, the record winter to hit Illinois. Someone’s got to shovel that shit. The Fire Watch is awake at his post as he should be. He has been apprised of tonight’s Ninja Mission. He is the only one supposed to be awake, make sure the compartment is safe while we sleep. Should he find danger, he must sound the alarm and alert the Quarterdeck. He is expected not to sound the alarm tonight. I am still awake on the top bunk. Every Section Leader is perhaps still awake on his top bunk. We are thinking what led to this night. We are thinking of the Gomers in our Section. We are thinking of the Gomers not in our Section. We are thinking of the Gomer in the RPOC’s Section (formally RCPO, or Recruit Chief Petty Officer). The extrajudicial punishment is in motion. Nothing is stopping it. Everyone agreed; the RPOC’s Gomer has to be first.

“All-star” is in fact our second RPOC. He is quiet unlike the other black recruits. He was a star high school quarterback from Fort Worth and chose the Navy when he couldn’t secure a football scholarship. He didn’t have the size. I like his stoicism.

The first RPOC could not live up to the physical expectations despite his formal preparation. He was a boastful muffintop Sea Scout from a predominately white Minneapolis suburb. Navy enlistment has always been his dream. The CC gave him the benefit of the doubt, and awarded him the saber of leadership. The promotion was premature; he was overweight and could not keep pace. In effect it was like giving a boy scout command of the Dirty Dozen. He did not appreciate the need for coalition building. He expected the gangbangers and athletes to respect his rank, but his unfitness drew mockery. Despite his immaculate DMI and PI (personal inspection), he flunked PT. How can he lead a Company that has a star quarterback, a Crip, a golden glove, a few track stars, a black belt, a so-so linebacker, a lumberjack, when he can’t even perform himself. He didn’t know how to cope with the constant challenge to his authority, or relate to difference. In the end, the big pussy saw his inconsequence, and with a little help from CUNTs, was cussed out of Bootcamp.

If the RPOC is going to remain our leader, he must set the example to inspire the Gomers. This is my dilemma. I am on top of my bunk deliberating whether or not I should discipline my Gomer next. Yes, the RPOC needs to be first. But who needs to be second. The order, which Gomer is going to be second, third, fourth, and so on, was not decided amongst the Section Leaders? In our next meeting, there should not be any hesitation. I mean there shouldn’t be a next meeting. It needs to be fluid and automatic. For one thing, I do not want to be the last Section Leader to act. I know, in regards to leadership, I should execute the second Sock Party and leave no doubt of my own resolve.

- - -

The anatomy of a sock party begins with DMI

Earlier today, a Lieutenant visited the compartment. The Company failed the “surprise” DMI. Actually, the 6 Gomers failed. Bed linens were not tight. Quarters did not bounce. 45-degree folds were lacking. “Lockers” were dusty. The uniforms folded shoddily. Even some wool blankets lacked the 45-degree open mouth fold. A lack of a petal can look so petulant. Smurf Turds were found collected in the hollow of a bunk frame. One recruit did not stow Inspection skivvies, underwear that has been starched and ironed to a wafer, and its sole purpose is for locker display. We weren’t the shit. We were shitty.

Our CC was furious. It was my Gomer who hid a trove of Smurf Turds. Maybe he was sending it home. A fucking keepsake. After evening chow, we were introduced to the toughest CC in Great Lakes, Great Mistakes, the RAINMAN.

A RAINMAN is the worst species of Company Commander. In the law of thermodynamics, he focuses CUNT kinetic energy and raises barracks humidity until the ceiling collects enough sweat that it actually rains inside. This is how to stretch a CUNT.

Think Mr. Clean. Rumors of his existence begin in the Chow Hall, usually as a warning from a Company weeks ahead of us in its program. Fuck up and the Boogeyman will getya. Better now than later, said our CC, nip this shit soon. By now our Company is very familiar with IT, or Instructional Training, once known as Barracks Counseling or even Bulkhead Counseling—euphemisms change with the generations, the older also involved slamming the offended into the barracks wall, fisting followed. Now, IT is known as Cycling. It’s not what you think. Think, dirty laundry and there are several hours of repeat wash before becoming spotless. Think also self-mortification. The stain too deep for a simple slap on the hand.

- - -

Enter Rainman

First the Rainman screams, “Bunkbeds to the Bulkheads.” Bunkbeds are pushed to the walls, widening the space to exercise. We do this without protest.

The CUNT stands at attention by his bunk. 37 CUNTs on the left and 38 CUNTs on the right. If the Rainman had been wholesome, he would have stretched and loosened the Company with Jumping Jacks. Of course, the Jumping Jacks must be done to spec, together, in unison, and loud. Otherwise, REPEAT. Cherry pickers following. Then Wind Mills. But the Rainman gets down to business, and drop us CUNTs for 50 pushups, his way. That’s what he does instead but different. He clears his throat and orders all CUNTs who are not Section Leaders to return standing at attention. They are to watch. They are to be his extra eyes. They are to sound off every exercise. They are to snitch any deficiency of form. The roles are reversed.

The Rainman addresses the Section Leaders, and especially the RPOC. Overall Company failure is Leadership failure. The inability of a few Gomers to perform basic details mirrors the inability of the Company’s leaders to properly motivate.

“Pushups are not a race,” he clarifies. He orders our dog tags out so they dangle from the neck and became a measure of a good push up.

In the Up Position, the dog tag must stand upright from its bottom tip. It must not lose contact with the deck. Meaning, the arms never get to a full stretch. Sucks to have long arms. We hold that position until he ordered “Down.” In the Down Position, the dog tag is flat on the deck, with no slack of chain on the floor. Again, the exercise is done to spec, together, in unison, and loud. We hold that position. Feels like minutes. It is possible to complete 80 pushups in 2-minutes, but again, it’s not a race. The eyes of the Company, very critical. The CC slows the pace, inspects form, and examines who is holding form and who is not, so it is possible that the last person to be inspected will break form, and the pushups start all over with count zero. After an hour, with some struggle and restarts, 50 are done right.

Then sit-ups. 80 is usually a good number. We pair up with the Section Leader across from us and take turns anchoring. Again, everyone lifts up simultaneously and rhythmically; otherwise the count spins down to zero. This is also a snails pace.

Then leg lifts. We are on our backs, the dry ceiling above. The CC’s mood determines whether feet are elevated 6-inches or 1-foot from the deck. He eyeballs the measurement. Had he produce a ruler we will not survive the night. No knee bends unless instructed. He sets his timer. Movement in the ranks, and the clock is rewound.

Now that the CUNT is suitably stretched, the CC orders 100 Self-Destructs. A Self-Destruct is a seamless series that is in unison, loud, without breaking form, without shortcuts, and done FAST.

1. Standing position.

2. A jumping jack, with both arms fully stretched meeting above the head ending with a loud clap.

3. Bend to a crouch, hands on the ground.

4. Legs stretch to push up position.

5. A pushup.

6. Return to crouch position.

7. Return to standing position and sound off the count.

The bounce actually makes 100 attainable. The faster the exercise, the more dissimilar everyone’s form and pacing. Likewise, steps 3 to 5 blur, and a CUNT can drop to do a push up and skip the crouch. So the count returns to zero. With all the jumping around and flapping that goes on, good form is that at the end of 100 Self-Destructs, when a CUNT is standing at attention, having sounded off 100, he did not deviate too far from his starting position at the beginning of the exercise. If he starts on a square but ends on a circle, start again.

Then the last exercise relies on the strength, stamina and torque of your CUNT neighbors, and your CUNT neighbors’ CUNT neighbors, and your CUNT neighbors’ CUNT neighbors’ CUNT neighbors. The CUNTs meet in the middle and sit on the deck as if doing sit-ups, but instead of anchoring arms to legs, they lock legs with legs. The CUNT to the right hooks his left arm in your right arm. The CUNT to the left hooks his right arm in to your left arm. Then the Company leans backwards, until they are flat on the deck staring at the ceiling. It is here at this moment I realize it is raining. Why is the Rainman still here? Then he starts the ‘69 Chevy in First Gear. One slow sit-up at a time. The sit-ups pick up speed to Second Gear. By then after the 20th sit-up you can compensate for any disproportionate weight on either arm, then Third Gear. Then he accelerates, to Fourth Gear. This is the only exercise, the Rainman, allows the leaders speak to each other. He says we are an engine that is badly tuned. By Fifth Gear we need to yell encouragement. Our biceps are sticky and wet. We are skipping a beat. We are sharing in each other’s CUNT sweat and CUNT spit, and are distracted by it. The Rainman’s rhetoric, “A Company is a well-oiled machine.” Each one of you is a piston. Sparkplug. Who amongst you is going to be the gasket that blows, the sparkplug that misfires, the belt that slips. By now we enter the third hour on the deck. You’re fucked if you are unlucky enough to have someone 100-pounds heavier locked on one arm, and he’s fading. You’re fucked if your neighbor’s huge bicep is ripping your arm from its socket. The Rainman drives a road-trip. He talks about Detroit not building cars liked they used to and how Americans are complacent buying imports. He talks about how it’s now the responsibility of CCs like him to rebuild the American-made motor. I don’t know if we’ve reached cruising speed, but CUNTS are sputtering. We are twisting to stay in form. Sure enough, it is the first time I yell at another CUNT, “Don’t fucking give up!” Shit no CUNT wants to start at First Gear. Each of the leaders yells something encouraging. That’s when the Rainman completes his visit. EXIT RAINMAN.

- - -

The anatomy of a sock party begins with Soap

In that time between IT and Tattoo, perhaps in the shower, washing the humiliation, or in the huddle, actual or subconscious, to do something on our own was reaffirmed. The Section Leaders were unanimous. We were going to restore the pride. The Gomers, had to be taught a lesson, a justice served at night. Whereas individual instruction between Section Leader and Gomer was not enough, earlier talks of Sock Party had the weight of fantasy. We had always thought and hoped, the Gomers would voluntarily request Separation from Bootcamp. It has happened before. Such attrition slimmed the Company 5 CUNTS.

A tube sock has 3 uses:

1. Keeps the toes warm. Double-layered in winter.

2. A place to jack-off. In the morning, just remember which sock cum filled.

3. The vehicle of the Sock Party, like a sling. Unlike a sling, the projectile does not leave the sock. So it’s more like a cudgel or bludgeon. Sock Party is sometimes called Soap Party, when a bar of soap is inserted into the sock. So, a bar of soap is used, but anything that has weight and can fit in a sock is useful. In the end, you want to exact enough blunt-force trauma to induce internal hemorrhaging, to break bones, to bruise the muscles. The sock supposedly minimizes the evidence, bruising on the skin—surfaces later, after the fact. If we did not have the option of a sock party, would we go so far as use fists, the heels of our boondocks, or more traditional weapons like a knife from the Mess Hall?

I am on the top of my bunk waiting for it to happen. RPOC’s section has been mobilized. It’s just one of its member does not know he’s being celebrated. Tonight Marmaduke.

That’s how I sleep, thinking about what was left behind, of what’s compelling: the Old Growth Forest, the understory, where Northern Spotted Owls nest, protected from logging, the abandoned sawmills, what is no longer harvested, the Coastal Douglas Fir, Port Orford Cedar, Ponderosa Pine, Sugar Pine, Incense Cedar, White Fir, Red Fir, Mountain Hemlock, Red Cedar, Lodgepole pine, Western Hemlock, Bigleaf Maple, and Sitka Spruce. I sleep through the Sock Party. I don’t know how. But I did. I know I have to lead the second Sock Party. Tomorrow Oregone.

- - -

Note: Marmaduke was FUBAR. Rumor is the Fire Watch broke rank and notified the Quarterdeck. He was rushed to Medical. By morning, before the Company mustered on the ice, every GOMER was pulled and reassigned to repeat the first 3-weeks of Bootcamp in a younger Company. It happened so fast, no one noticed. Oregone became another Section Leader’s responsibility.