Thursday, January 9, 2014

'An AWOL Crackerjack'

I figure it’s that time of season when it happened so many years ago! I figure I’ll tell my whimsical rendition of feel’n sorry for my happy ass after accepting a taxpayer sustained college enticement to help fill the ranks of the Ol’ Canoe Club!! Then how I took some leave of Unauthorized Absence on a week long journey from Arctic brisk winds blow’n across Lake Michigan thumbing rides and catnapp’n on a Greyhound half way through hell and Georgia to the sunshine state!!   

Rest assured I made a fine mess of things in those first six months as a Crackerjack, learn’n a hard humbled lesson in swaller’n my pride while tap dancing on my own dick! No son-of-a-bitch was dumber and more ill-advised than I at such a young age!! I remember looking longingly at the world outside, contemplating what my existence would’ve been like had I not signed my life away on that dotted line!!!

I said it once before…

“At Nineteen and right outta High School we were all young… dumb… and full of too much sexual angst to be pull’n our puds for just one gal! But what the hell did we know… I fell in love and all I could think about was that ‘Suzie Rotten Crotch’ back home!”

At this juncture it was high time I took a serious stab at going AWOL!  I’d talked to the ol’ Chaplin but he could’nt help me… I consulted with my shipmates but they didn’t understand… so unencumbered and feel’n unobligated to stand my post, I took the next big experience in my Navy Career… in subzero weather with a seabag over my shoulder and a thumb up in the air I decided to go piss’n  in the wind!! Now at a meager five foot seven inches and less than a buck fifty soak and wet… that’s a mighty long journey for a young man not preferential to the cold… In the Chicago winter… hitchhiking is mightily can freeze his balls off in those conditions!!!

It was colder than a well-digger’s ass on a brass toilet seat in the Yukon and I had three or four layers over that ass and I still felt naked as a jail bird… yet it gave me an having a super-secret code ring. The theory being,’Mr. and Mrs. Concerned Citizen’ would see me out there in the damned cold leaning helplessly into the wind…

“Oh we can't pass that cute little feller up....he's freez’n his butt off!”

Then all you had to do was struggle to reach the stopped car with an exaggerated chatter of the ol’ teeth and knees!!!

Somehow with that seabag over my shoulder and three or four piggy back rides from a few all American folks helping a young dumb sailor try to escape his own misery, I had made it from somewhere in Waukegan to somewhere downtown Chicago! With no clue what was where or if up was down… I think I was having a mental case of vertigo in that snow blizzard that was going on outside as well as inside my head!! I’d made it to the L-Train and tried to figure out how the hell to get to the Greyhound Station I knew was downtown!!!

Standing there lost and confused on the wrong side of town, some cute young black girl came over and pulled me aside…

“Honey… do you have any idea where you are or where you’re going?”

… All I knew was it was cold… somewhere in Chicago… and trying to get to the bus station! She grasped me by the arm and told me I was in a bad neighborhood with no business being there and she rode the train with me to the Greyhound terminal… you can’t find that kind’a sweetness just anywhere… not these days!!!

Once at the station I gave most of my wallet for a one way trip to Tampa… the closest stop to home at the time and looked for a place to plant my ass and rub my hands together for a little warmth! The place was pretty antiquated… looked like somewhere out of an old Hitchcock Thriller… old furniture with torn upholstery and shitty bathrooms with lights flickering overhead!! Cold, nervous & hungry… I had an unopened box of peanut M&Ms in my pocket I’d bought from the gedunk machine before I’d left!! I remember because I wrote ‘Suzie Rotten Crotch’s’ number on it so I could call her when I got back home!!!

… And so half way through hell and Georgia to the sunshine state I made it in about three days! It was a careless adventure of feel’n free without constraint!! No musters, no commitments, no early morning marches to the chow hall!! Just a testosterone loaded kid full of bullshit and emotions and a few dollars in my hip pocket!! Needless to say shit went downhill pretty fast for a fresh young lad who’d lost his way!!!

Once I made it into town I’d hooked up with my ol’ pal Joey and some Mad Dog 20/20 for some hell rais’n and hard drink’n before I found myself tankered and serenading silly love songs at ‘Suzie Rotten Crotch’s’ window 0100 hours in the morning… on a school night (she was still in high school) … don’t know why her daddy didn’t pull out the ol’ twelve gauge shotgun full of rock salt… quite the contrary as he invited me in… and I proceeded to thank him by turning his toilet and bathroom floor into a funny shade of purple!! All I remember next was waking up in an orange grove the ensuing morning in Joey’s car bent over the passenger seat with a bucket draped over my head about a quarter full of last night’s drink!!!

… That my friends is a ‘No Shitter’…

After three days of argument’s sake… a dozen phone calls from shipmates, Chief of the barracks, and my command in Great Mistakes, I was on an airplane back to NTC where I was to be awarded my punishment for my deeds as a young shitbag recruit!!! 

Our Commanding Officer, Commander Clark, was a hard ass to say the least! A no nonsense kind of fella…

“So what’s your story son?”

“I was homesick sir… and missed my girlfriend so I just left!”

“Are you over it yet?”

“No Sir… not really!”

“Well son… If you ever get finished convalescing from your illness of self-pity then I promise… shit will get better!”
The skipper didn’t consider my rather unorthodox self-loathing as any more than a cry for help and hemmed my ass up at Captain's Mast for two weeks restriction... and some session time with the Alcohol Anonymous meetings at the base chapel! Now listening to those fellas tell tales of their childhood… rape, incest, abuse… hell, that’s when I realized I was nothing more than a snot nosed spoiled brat kid!! I had no gauddamned reason to bitch or feel sorry for myself… that shit makes you wake up quick when you see how bad it is in the real world!!!

Instead of kicking my dumb ass to the curb they gave me another opportunity to get an Honorable Discharge entitling me to a free funeral plot and some VA benefits down the road when I’m an old coot wearing depends and fitt’n tennis balls to the bottom of a walker! Yet somehow I was even dumb enough to get suckered into three more enlistments and several trips around the world before calling it a day and hang’n up my anchors to be a born-again landlubber!!!

… You know, they say you could’nt of made Chief unless you’d been to Mast at least once in your career… and all the lifers became ‘Mustangs’… he-he!!!

Yeah, I walked in and out of the door of life a few times and it hit me square where the ‘Good Lord’ split me… it’s funny how the mind expunges all the bullshit in between… ain’t it?!?



  1. Great stories, awesome sight. Keep sharing! (I was dumber than you...enlisted at 17, went to mast 3 times, retired in 1998. :))

  2. As an instructor at rat center mucus (NATTC Memphis), I also was assigned to be a counselor for a duty section of a barracks. That meant I spent my duty evenings at the barracks counseling students with their problems.

    It also included accompanying any miscreants to mast. The Captain would always ask the counselor what he did to prevent this occurrence in the first place, and you had better have documentation or you'd get reamed more than the student.

    So a young charge of mine went UA. At mast, I was asked the dreaded question to which I answered "nothing sir". "Petty Officer, explain yourself" in a threatening tone from the Captain. I answered, he checked in on Saturday morning from boot leave, went to mail call and got a come fuck me letter from his girlfriend and he was gone before I could catch him.

    I got to keep my stripes and it was the first time anyone had seen that Captain laugh during a mast.