The Army Said

I guess it started when I was around 9. We were living in Georgia. My father was a deputy sheriff and my mother was a saleswoman at a local dress shop. My sister was 12 and going through that girl maturity thing.

In July, 1998, my father decided to join the army. Not much of a surprise to any of us since he was talking about it for over a year, but my mother didn’t want him to join and then the fighting started. “You’ll get killed. Are you mad?”. But my father insisted saying how patriotic he was and that he felt compelled to do something for our country.

In September, we moved to California, leaving my friends, who I honestly didn’t care for much anyway. I did have a girl friend, but she moved a year before us, so I was left with a certain circle of friends that weren’t much to talk about. One was obsessed with X-Box and although I did enjoy playing those games, that’s all he ever did.  Another friend was into pot although I tried it and liked it, I was never the pot head he was and I can honestly say I won’t miss it. Still another friend (if I should call him that) thought he was the leader of the pack and at times would start trouble with me. His name was Frank and maybe he got this ‘I have to be tough’ thing from his father who was one of those independent blue collar truck drivers. Sometimes his father would not come home for three days and when his wife would ask him where he was, he would say he had a long haul. I think his father beat him sometimes, but can’t say for sure. Frank was 12, 5’9 and 180 lbs and I was 5’7 and 165 lbs at the time, but one day I stood up to him and a fight broke out. My other friends pulled us apart, but not after I ended up going home with a chipped tooth. I told my parents I fell.

I thought this is the way it was going to be everytime I would run into Frank, but surprisingly he actually showed respect for me and his attitude changed. Guess you don’t have to win a fight as long as you stand up to what’s right. Still, I hated him.

Leaving school didn’t bother me either. My grades were in the B+ area, but I didn’t like any of my teachers and when it was time to leave, I got all kinds of lectures about how great my father was to decide to do this army thing and I should support him all the way.

I have a better relationship with my father then with my mother. Maybe because my father used to take me places and when I was younger, he would show me how to take apart and put together a pistol. That was interesting. Later he took me to his gun range and taught me how to shoot a rifle. He also took me to baseball games and that monster truck show when it would come to town.

Leaving home for my sister was harder. She had a lot of close friends and would whine everyday about leaving. There were boyfriends, but no one she seemed particularly attached to and she liked school and would bitch about that too. I just stayed out of it.

So in September, we left. My father did not want to pay for a moving company to go cross country, so he rented one of Frank’s father’s trucks and had it transported back to him when we arrived in California, but there was talk about the army paying for it and when I asked dad about that, he said “Don’t listen to what other people tell you Benny”.