Saturday, July 24, 2010

Grand Central

At ground level:

I really like this woman's right leg. It looks like a tornado that's roping out in it's final death throes, albeit a very short, thin tornado that happens to be happening indoors, albeit a large indoor space but indoors nevertheless. I like how I used "albeit" twice in that sentence. That was an artistic choice.

I also like how it looks like that she has no leg going into her shoe, like she has a prosthetic leg and it's just a rod going into a ball-joint down there. It reminds me of this dude I used to sit next to in my Roman history class at Columbia. I was taking notes and looking down, I noticed that he didn't have an ankle, just a shiny rod disappearing into his sneaker. Before every class he would eat a yogurt with this special metal spoon. One day he handed it to me and said, "Guess whose spoon this was." It was heavy, and sterling silver.

"I don't know...Joey Spoons, the Spoon King of Spoonville?"

"Saddam Hussein's."

The dude was a vet. His foot got blown off by an IED in Iraq, but he got Saddam's spoon. I'm not sure that's an even trade.

There were a lot of vets of the current wars at school, and their take on their take on the situation was as varied as something that's really really varied. Take my leg-deprived acquaintance. He was completely behind the action, GWB all the way. He felt we went in there for the right reasons and were doing good. I wonder if he still feels that way four years later.

This other dude I knew, a Marine who was part of the invasion force, was probably the biggest Hillary Clinton for President supporter I ever met. He also took home some booty from one of Saddam's palaces — a tea set. We had a class together and he went M.I.A. for a month or so. When he came back he said he had a PTSD breakdown. He went straight from the battlefield to the ivy leagues without even a break.

I knew another guy who was completely indifferent to the situation. He wasn't part of any invasion force, but worked on a Marine base after things had been cleared out a bit. He said his scariest moment was when one of his fellow Marines accidentally pointed a rifle at his testicles during the confusion of a mortar shelling.

And then there was this one other dude. He was Army, also in the invasion force. We were out one night and I forgot how it came up but it was mentioned that even though he was honorably discharged, he could still be called back for combat duty. This didn't faze him too much. "If they call me back, that means I get to kill more Arabs." He then went on to describe how easy it was to kill Arabs over there, and went into detail about shooting from the hip in complete darkness with a laser sight and night vision goggles, and getting headshots every time. I still can't say whether I was more horrified or fascinated to imagine this man I had already known for two years or so as Lt. Col. Kilgore.

These are the veterans in your neighborhood...

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