Saturday, July 30, 2011

Time Out! Doing Time! Time to Move On! Time to Laugh

I'm taking today to recuperate from the reunions that followed our All Class Reunion.  Since everyone is in town there were a ton of get-togethers with old friends.  Some involved drives out of the area (Willits!) (Sonoma!) and all involved food, of course.
Memo to self:  I want to get that caterer's name.  I thought they did an outstanding job!

So.  We are having another drippy grey summer and that makes me rather drippy and grey also.  All American news is about the Budget, or lack thereof.  The National Charge Card which reached astronomical proportions prior to the current administration, and is even higher now.  I imagine we'll just rack up another charge and carry on: it's become the American Dream to "buy" on a charge card. 

Isn't it hard to believe that Bill Clinton left a surplus, not a debt?  That rascal Ken Starr certainly took a nice piece of that surplus home with all his dogged attention to detail.  I wonder if he paid taxes on that - or if he earned "too much" to pay taxes.   I wonder if he will when whatever happens.  It's a sorry story, and our country has been used and abused by Red White and Blue Collar Crime.  Ya know, though,  Doctor Phil says, we are in charge of teaching people how to treat us. 

I'm waiting patiently for the loooooong slumber to come to an end.  Perhaps when America awakens they will remember (Republican) President Dwight David Eisehnower's warning when he left office in 1961:  BEWARE THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!!  Well, ever since the '60s we be right in the middle of The Military as an Industrial Machine. 

I remember working for my friend's father as a teenager in the 1960s.  He owned the biggest company in our little town, a print shop.  His son, whom I grew up with was in Viet Nam fighting  for...something.  I was never too clear on what The Domino Effect was all about.   It sounds plain demeaning to think we were at war over a board game.  Today I'd say  a Board of Directors & Investors Game, but I don't think I should get politically incorrect so early  in this blog.  Anyway, my boss got a HUGE gov'ment contract:  he printed up catalogues for the military, and I got a chance to work overtime and collect some cash.  I was a wartime pofiteer also, I suppose.

Oh yes - I was horrified to see the catalogues were of arms and ammunition.  My friend, my boss's son, was shot down three times.  He was a gunner on a helicoptor.
I cringed then to think his life was all about these weapons, and the fact that both his dad and I were profiting from the war that endangered him and his friends. In truth today I wish I had kept a copy of the catalog as a reminder of the workings of wars.

my boss's son survived the war, and like so many youngsters who sacrificed their time, relationships and bodies, he came back with a habit to support and ended up in jail.  His dad gave me his prison address, and I remember writing him with town news, my news, and sending him funny clippings and such. He never came home after he'd served his time, and I lost track of him.

Twenty-five years later he came back to Calistoga and we bumped into each other at the County Fair.  Here was my old childhood friend and we hugged, maybe cried a little as he proudly showed me his darling little toddler.  And then he laughed as he pulled out his wallet, "Here, you sent this to me when I was in the slammer and I have kept it with me ever since!"  I had no idea what he referred to and was apalled when he handed me a tattered Monopoly card, the "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

"I sent you that?" I gasped.

"Yes!  You did and I could not believe you sent that to me!" he said.

I was embarassed, could feel the hot flush on my cheeks.

And he told me how that card, at that moment shifted his perspective on life, he laughed for the first time in prison.  He laughed out loud until he cried; and he knew that if he could laugh like that in prison, he could certainly finish his time and and live to laugh again.

I learned a lot from him that day:  he taught me the real meaning of that Monopoly card.  Who knew?  We can get out of jail free.

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