I’m coming down off the high of a mega-productive and lucid, not to mention lucrative, three days. Last night was my first full shift at a club and my body wasn’t on a vampiric enough schedule to stay sharp until almost 5AM. I went to bed on 21 hours awake, and woke up earlier than I’d prefer.
Today was my first loafing day in quite a bit, so I decided to watch Restrepo, a documentary about a Platoon’s 15 month deployment in Afghanistan.
Normally, I know better than to watch or listen to anything depressing when my mood’s low. I figured I should educate myself on how things really work over in Afghanistan without contemplating the depressing deaths and real life reactions I’d see. Although the documentary has endearing, lighthearted moments, it’s not the “truth based” fare of Generation Kill with punched up jokes and no casualties. And it got to me.
Of course, I felt for the men (boys really) who lost their friends. I don’t ask my military buddies about whether they’ve lost close pals, the way you don’t ask customers at the club about their wives and kids, so it’s easy to maintain the out of sight, out of mind approach. Until you accidentally watch a documentary where you see soldiers discover the body of a man down.
I have a good deal of self shame about my inability to handle emotional triggers. Watching a damn 90 minute documentary has thrown my mood for the whole day (I popped a Klonopin to chill out) and these guys held down a grueling dragged out deployment.
There’s a great segment in the book Generation Kill where the author, a Rolling Stone reporter, talks about anxiety pill culture and the relative weakness of his civilian peers in Los Angeles:
“We stand around looking at each other through the warping, fish-eye lenses of our gas masks. I can’t conceal my feeling of triumph. Not only am I glad that I don’t seem to be showing any symptoms of exposure the gas, but I’m also not a little proud that I’ve gotten fully MOPPed up without panicking. Unlike these Marines, I haven’t spent the last few years of my life in wars or training exercises with bombs going off, jumping out of airplanes and helicopters. In my civilian world at home in Los Angeles, half the people I kinow are on antidepressants or anti-panic attack druge because they can’t handle the stress of a mean boss or a crowd at the 7-Eleven when buying a Slurpee.
that’s my world, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if, thrust into this one, in the first moments of what we all believe to b3e a real gas attack, I’dee just flipped out and started autoinjecting myself with Valium.”
(Afforementioned injectable Valium was meant to finish the job for a man wounded beyond recovery a la Morphine.)
Most of us semi-liberal urbanites can judge questionable military engagements from a chicken shit point of view. But how many of us will freely admit they are not man (or woman) enough to handle what the guys in Restrepo did?
Another quip in Generation Kill is a guy saying “we’re the ones your moms said not to hang out with in High School. Now they put us up on pedestals as heroes.”
Readers may wonder, “where are her dry humping anecdotes? I wanna know how she dealt with that guy who whipped his dick out last night.” All I can say is, I may be an emotional basket case, but I relate to other disenfranchised people as a result. I’m a closeted mental health case, sex worker and alcoholic, I mean that’s a triple whammy, man. Does it make sense to y’all why I date military guys, now? I’m drawn in a sick way to damaged goods, which is probably unhealthy and even dangerous for my well-being. But even if I’m a pussy who literally gets panic attacks over the prospect of running out of anxiety pills, I’d like to think I can be proud of my willingness to probe retired military men for their stories when, and only when, appropriate. You can’t shove your curious agenda down someone’s throat. But if you date someone, as I have, you eventually gauge how much they are willing to open up, and even vent. Military guys tend not to judge the stripping profession as harshly and if only they weren’t so in love with their guns, I’d put my money on marrying one eventually. I got tricked into seeing my Dad last weekend (something I hesitate to mention, as it’s linkable to my real life) and when I told him I’d dated a couple Marines and was back to manhunting, he said, “whoever marries you needs to be a strong man.” And I think the only hope I have is a guy who’s been through some heavy ass shit. I respect military men by default, until they lose my respect, like the guy I dumped February 15th (that has to be some kind of unofficial dumping day of women doing the dumping following Valentine’s let-downs.)