Attention Whore Seeks Audience…

Whenever we hold up the critical mirror of consciousness to do a self-check, I sometimes wish it came with a warning sticker to the effect: “The idiot in mirror might be a larger ass than they appear.

The following post is a painful acknowledgment that I am not funny as I think I am, and maybe I should seek professional help. As painful as the following confession is to read, I promise you, it was a thousand times harder to write and admit to.

***

I am a veteran. This means, among other things, that I should know better the hardships that any recruit faces while going through basic training and that I would respect boundaries and rules.

I am also a person who has relies on humor to get me through the tough times. Cracking jokes, finding funny memes, doing silly things to get a laugh is kind of a default setting. In the ordinary world, this can probably be shrugged off as me just being the middle-child, drama queen (e.g. attention-seeking whore) that I am at heart. However, sometimes, I take the joke too far. And someone gets hurt. This is one of those confessions. And, because my ridiculous behavior was no laughing matter on a large scale for someone, I feel a public apology (and personal humiliation) is the least I owe them. So here goes.

Dear Recruit:

I am sorry that I did not bother to read anywhere what was considered contraband before sending you stuff while you were going through basic training. I thought only food was to be avoided. My first package to you of bland, innocuous toiletries was truly well-intentioned. That foot powder is classified as a medical supply and therefore not allowed, I am very sorry to have included.

And, if I had known that ANY package sent early on was a problem–I’d like to think I would have waited the appropriate amount of time to save you grief. Especially the water balloons shaped like hand grenades. Truly, that was a bad, terrible, no-good idea.

Every time I wrote a letter or packaged something up, I tried to include inspirational or humorous cartoons or weird free-association based on whatever card I had picked up and mutated for basic training. If I had only put these inspirational messages on the inside of the letter, maybe you wouldn’t have been hazed so badly.

But no. I think I’m funny and the whole world should know it. So, I wrote something on the outside of every parcel, postcard, or letter.

I am so very sorry that I thought the following mail would ‘cheer you up’ because you would ‘get a laugh’ out of them. I was wrong…very, very wrong, and I am extremely sorry.

Some were banal:

I’m definitely regretting using the word ‘bomb’ as a hyperbolic expression in sending mail to a military post. Not my smartest move. Though, it is an apt description of my kitchen floors.

Some were more inventive:

Seriously, I thought this was funny. I still kind of do. I am a little afraid to visit South Carolina in the future in case they put my face on wanted posters somewhere.

Other missives crossed over the Border to Crazy Town and beyond into Psychoville. The attack of the Giant Laser Kitties from Space was one:

This was the front of a hand-made postcard. Laminated with tape so it wouldn’t be destroyed by water no matter how hard one tried.

And just in case you were curious about the message I sent along with the Laser Kitty postcard…here it is:

“No one knows what brought the laser kitties to planet Earth. Why they chose to  descend on Fort Jackson, South Carolina? No clue. However, it became apparent quite quickly that they had not counted on crack troops trained in unique methods of handling an unexpected foe. When the Drill Sergeants gave the order, they leapt to obey. The order he yelled that fateful day?

Drop and give me twenty mewing like a kitty cat!

The enemy was eating out of their hands by noon.”

[P.S. If the Drill Sgt laughs, he has to give you 20. If he is not laughing, I probably owe him 20!)

The sad truth is, I had a ball writing each and every single letter or silly poem. [The limerick dedicated to a Drill Sergeant who was quite handy with his privates, while totally innocent, probably did not sound that way out loud. I’m cringing to think how many push-ups that cost the unit.)

My ‘Masterpiece’ which likely was tossed into a round file the minute it arrived. Sigh.

But I suspect I truly crossed the line when I spent about five hours creating a poster that marked the 70 days of basic training with little cartoons and humorous insights to mark-off each day until basic ended. I worked really hard on it, but I should have stopped long enough to recognize, it was probably funnier looking back on basic training 35-years later than while actually going through it.

Here are a few of the observations I made–maybe you can decide for yourself:

Truthfully, I do care about the wellbeing of any soldier who goes off to basic. Enduring one of the most intensive training cycles you can do is no laughing matter. I was a highly unlikely recruit myself. I struggled to pass every single obstacle put in front of me. I cried when I hit a breaking point. It was the kindness of my fellow recruits that got me through. I was a chubby, glasses wearing, near-sighted emotional mess. And despite my utter lack of physical prowess, I managed to pass basic training. Even though I never turned out to be soldier material, I served and got out with an honorable discharge. I’ve always been proud to have served. But I am not proud to have caused anguish to someone who did not deserve it–all in pursuit of a laugh. It was never meant to be at his expense, but that is no excuse. Hopefully I will be forgiven–in time.

Sending mail that caused anxiety and pain–that was a dick move. And I am heartily sorry. I should have paid attention to my own words of wisdom:

One of the more ironic inspirational quotes I added to the 70-day countdown calendar I sent.

*****

You read this far bonus:

I can only hope a certain soldier is reading this someday, and that he knows how sorry I truly am. And would he please retract the curse that caused not one, but two camping disasters!?

I can only assume you prayed for the plague of insects to eat me alive, for my air mattress to deflate and for the rain to pour into the tent at 4:00 a.m. I may have to reconsider my agnostic stance as I think God heard you. Or at the very least, the universe felt compelled to get revenge on your behalf.


15 thoughts on “Attention Whore Seeks Audience…

    1. Thank you for saying that. When I do particularly idiotic things like this, I feel very alone in a cold universe. Having internet friends makes me feel I am in good company–most days. I haven’t read all the comments yet.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Martha, me too – you should know how hard I try to press a smile out of Hero Husband’s knive-thin lips some days…. I also got misunderstood more often than I care to count…. but I don’t mind looking like an imbecile – anyone can think what they like.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. When my BIL was in the Army we never sent anything to him – it was all filtered through my sister. That way there was a buffer zone to spare him any indignities… I hope your apology appeases the universe and the plague of insects passes….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been assured by his sister that I am forgiven. That said…I will probably be groveling for years to come. Thanks for reading with kindness. I felt nary a single eye roll anywhere.

      Like

  2. I seriously shouldn’t be laughing should I? But I am. I thought a lot of those were funny but I can imagine, having sent letters to friends in boarding schools that brought similar retribution on their arses, that the results were not pretty for the unit concerned. I should imagine the American military authorities take life a lot more serious than British boarding schools.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems that I can’t help myself–the title of my post isn’t entirely tongue-in-cheek. I honestly think I have some sort of ‘Attention Deficit’ in that I seek center stage and approval from others. It is also possible I have actual A.D.D. and that I act first and the thought process lags behind by a week or two. I hope I’ve learned my lesson!

      And, while I’d like to think the military is more serious that a boarding school–from watching The Crown, I’m not sure that is always the case. Boarding school looked pretty awful and awfully regimented to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I (very) often ‘decorate’ my envelopes with additional ‘material’ – usually to a rather pleasing effect. However, some get really tired over having to clean up the house after they open my Christmas card and a ton of glitter, stars, angels, and such falls out when they open the envelope…..

    Liked by 1 person

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