April 19, 2007
The tango is the dance of nihilism. – Argentinian nihilist
My brown eyes, already burning black with anger, were now red from
crying. As I sat at my makeshift desk in the living room, I could hear
him loud and clear in the bedroom. He'd been drinking Heineken all
night and was holed up in there, watching Saving Private Ryan by himself and making M-16 noises while talking excitedly to his brother on the phone.
"Bro! I'm so psyched!" he said. "I am so ready to go back! I need this!"
My boyfriend was talking about the recent decision he'd made to
re-enlist in the National Guard. It had been a subject of much
contention between us over the past few months—and one that had
generally resulted in a stalemate, until last week.
"Babe, I did it," he'd said then. "And I need you to be happy for me."
Happy? Was he kidding? We're in a war that doesn't look like it's
gonna be ending anytime soon. If he joins the National Guard, a subset
of the U.S. Army, he will surely get deployed to Iraq. He could die,
become maimed or worse, have to kill people.
"Look, I realize the irony here," he'd said. "You work for a liberal
paper and I'm about to join the army. I don't agree with the war,
either. But this is just something I have to do. They're going to train
me to become a diesel engineer! And they're going to pay me and help me
get my captain's license…"
As he went on with his long list of sparkly baits the recruiters
threw out for him to take, I found myself sinking more and more into
despair. I knew his mind was set—I've seen this look in his eyes before
and there's no reasoning with him. To argue at this point would be
futile. But I couldn't hide my woeful countenance.
"Remember when I told you," he'd said, pulling me closer to him,
"that if you should ever get an opportunity for your writing that takes
you away from Maui you should take it even though I'd be really sad?
Well, I'm asking you to do the same for me."
I didn't quite think that was the same thing and I said so, but to no avail.
Then it occurred to me that maybe he's right. Or at least, I began
to see how he'd think it was a good idea. I mean, he'd already enlisted
once, before leaving to go on a pro-circuit surfing tour. He's got tons
of energy and is addicted to adrenaline and the camaraderie of being
part of a team—a community of likewise manic nutters.
Now he's getting older and feels like he has no discernible skills. He craves a focus.
But in this moment, listening to him all drunk and keyed-up at home,
with one hand clutching the phone into which he's boasting about firing
guns, and another hand holding a half-empty bottle of beer, while
standing in front of a TV screen depicting Tom Hanks in an intense
World War II battle scene, the tears once again make long, heavy tracks
down my cheeks.
I wanted to shake him. I wanted to sober him up. But most of all, I
wanted to stop him from making a decision—one more important than I
think he understood, and the full extent of which he couldn't possibly
"But what about your kids?" I asked. "Don't you think they'll miss you?"
"I'm doing this for them," he said. "For their freedom."
Samantha Campos thinks the world would be a happier place if we all took a bath in Jello from time to time. MTW
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