Ten Fore Good Buddy!

            I met Carrie Pierce at one of the famous parties held in the courtyard between the dorms and we quickly found several things in common. Perhaps not all things, but the differences are what truly make for a good story. As at college parties where the ubiquitous line is ‘what’s your major?’, at military functions the equivalent is ‘where you from?’ or in the south, ‘where y’alls from?” I asked Carrie where she’alls from and by one of those funny little coincidences, it turned out she was from Buffalo – I think East Otto to be exact.

            Much like childhood where existing in the same neighborhood was a strong basis for friendship, coming from the same neck of the woods was such in the Air Force. In addition, she was a cute female and I had just broken things off with Susan, had a somewhat healed shoulder, and my friends were still deployed to Saudi. One evening not long after the party I bumped into her and she invited me up to her room to watch movies, which to my disappointment meant just that. Sometimes coffee is just coffee, at least for guys like me.

            As it turned out, her initial intention was to pump me for information about a cad she knew worked in my own shop who will only be known as ‘Ski’ who used his resemblance to a popular ‘Better Off Dead’ actor to score tail at every opportunity. He had apparently paid a visit and as letches like him are prone to do, never made the promised next day courtesy call. She claimed to loath him thereafter and was constantly looking for ways to seek revenge and I quickly became her half-assed conspirator. The problem of course was maintaining the expected level of apparent outrage while gently defusing her more dangerous and legally questionable plots. She obtained some book by a revenge expert named Heyduke and we would spend long hours sifting though it seeking just the right plan.

            I become more motivated not long after what I felt was an egregious violation of male protocol when it comes to the pursuit of the fairer sex. While fair competition in a limited market can be brutal, and cockblocking other suitors is expected, the same rules don’t apply if you have already sprayed and the other cat is someone you drink with. I was in Carrie’s room, on her bed hanging out when randy old Ski came to the door as he “was in the neighborhood” and just happened to wander by. Mind you Ski was several ranks above me, lived off base, and had no real business in the Supply dorms. In any case, he saw me there and left. Nothing wrong with that; except of course for the fact that he waited in the parking lot until I left and then came back up and propositioned her.

            She came by my room directly after and let me know, which infuriated me to some degree. While it was true I had no formal claim on the territory, I had clearly called dibs to pursue and didn’t need some Cusack clone sniffing about trying to undermine any efforts I may have been making. There was nothing of course that I could do about it, though I did take every opportunity to advertise the complete lack of shop and brotherly loyalty and sneaky conduct. His nature as a man-whore though was already well known and those who knew him longest were wise enough to keep their wives and daughters distant from this tactless prick.

            Competition for any female Airman was rarely limited to just one dude on account of the heinous 10:1 ratio and Ski soon became of little worry as she hated him anyway. Instead I suddenly had an unbearable skinny fellow named Ian skulking about whom she found amusing for some reason. We all worked the same shift at that point – days – and Ian and I would race over to her room immediately after work in order to establish prominence. I have no doubt that she enjoyed the jousting match for her attention and each day the results of whom seemed to capture her momentary favor changed.

            I hate competing in such arenas and found the whole thing powerfully irritating and would have simply walked away had I really anything else to do. The base was on a skeleton crew and there was just no one else to hang out with. I employed my usual and highly effective cockblocking technique of assigning him a seemingly innocuous nickname that unconsciously introduces negative images in the female head; “Is Shortcake (he was tall) coming by today?” I did the same thing with a rival of mine when I first met my wife and drubbed ‘Prickly Pete’ quite handily. You know it’s working when they begin using the nickname as well and that the thought process of whether they see themselves with a ‘Shortcake’, ‘Prickly Pete’, or ‘Boscoe’ in the long run has already reared its ugly head. I was much more relaxed once she started referring to him that way, especially in person. He knew he had lost, yet persisted anyway.

            I give Shortcake credit for employing a highly effective counter technique soon after. One day after work when Carrie was involved in some other activity, Ian came to my door and invited me to take a ride, which I did. Despite the obvious competition and undermining, we had maintained the veneer of a jovial yet farcical friendship and I was determined not to let that crack as it would only work against me. We got into his car and drove off base and I inquired as to where we were going. He said he had an activity he thought I would find fun and that it relaxed him when stressed. We pulled into the parking lot of a gun club and he removed a metal case from his trunk that I found contained a handgun and bullets. Make no mistake, I was significantly alarmed but determined to play it cool and pray his military training would prevent him from shooting me outright.

            I’ve never been much for guns but wasn’t about to let on. It was obvious that at the very least this was a show of force and I was in no way ready to concede superior firepower. Shooting at targets taking turns we came out about even in expertise. His experience matched my superior eyesight and I managed to maintain an air of indifference throughout. Talk of Carrie was conspicuously absent and afterward I thanked him for the experience and hoped my stoic dismissal of his toy was enough to both discourage him without inspiring some need to prove the point further. Soon after he was deployed on a 2 month mission and it was the last I really had to deal with him.

            The oddness I found in common with Carrie began to manifest soon after in our many excursions here and there. Each of us had the benefit of having our own room and entered into an exercise of putting up the most outlandish décor possible while still staying within regulation with the purpose of shocking the monthly dorm inspectors who came by to ensure the premises didn’t look lived in. The efforts included your standard Spencer Gifts fare of black lights, strange posters, creepy action figures with word balloons and whatnot. My favorite piece was an action figure of Thanos perched on the back of the toilet, pointing upward, with a word balloon warning users not to piss on the seat. Carrie one upped me by removing all the contents of her fridge and setting up a whole diorama with Spawn type characters inside. A year or so later one of the inspectors, MSgt Missy Wood, became our shop chief and recalled both the outlandish displays as well as my arm incident.

            Aside from the affinity for kitschy décor, we also had a taste for exploration carrie-pierce-vietnam-memorialand resolved to go somewhere different every weekend after a payday. In anticipation of this, she bought a large floppy hat that she dubbed her ‘adventure hat’ and stuck knickknacks into the band as if to accentuate this fact. Our first jaunt was local to Virginia Beach where we enjoyed the funhouses, wax museums, seafood and chanced upon a free concert of Little Richard. The next trip was to DC and is still now the only time I have been there seeing all the usual sites and whatnot. The adventure club didn’t last much longer after that due to pursuit of other activities and my grave doubts that my car, which sheme-and-carrie-pierce-capitol named ‘Dr Doom’ for me, would make it anywhere out of the immediate area.

            Aside from the comfortable level of weirdness we shared (my cousin Ann actually used to accuse me of being a weirdness magnet), we had between us a strong love for the Buffalo area. When she discovered I had John Fogerty classic “Rock and Roll Girl” on tape, she had me rewind and replay ad nauseum just to bask in the notion of shuffling off to Buffalo and sitting by the lake. We entertained the notion of opening a restaurant called ‘Old Lake Erie’s’ that would exclusively serve authentic Buffalo fare. As a business idea, it didn’t carry a lot of merit given that we planned the location to be right on the shores of its namesake where exotic delicacies like wings didn’t raise many eyebrows.

            Carrie began, or probably continued, a tradition I noted of young female airmen and Thies of purchasing standard transmission vehicles without ever having been in one prior. It is still beyond me how one can commit to purchasing a vehicle without even test driving it first, but she did and I became tasked with teaching her how to drive the thing. Well before she could even coax the thing into first, she had already decked it out with classic redneck accoutrements including a fox tail on the antenna, fuzzy dice on the rear view, and a CB. I had not known they even made the things anymore, but she managed to procure one and it became her greatest hobby and my biggest worry.

            She had a perverse pride in being ‘country folk’ adapted any and all symbols of said status with a vigorous embrace; the CB radio being the holy grail of trailertude. I got pulled into installing it for her and thereafter had to endure endless hours of sitting in her green truck as she perused the bands and found interesting people to talk to who felt the ham radio set was too hoity toity. This in itself was bad enough, but a few weeks into it she felt she was developing some bona-fide friendships with these citified hillbillies and wanted to meet them. I expressed very adamantly that meeting anyone with a handle like ‘Chainsaw’ was just a truly bad idea, especially at night in a parking lot of Denny’s. I thus found myself standing in the parking lot of Denny’s on a cold October evening with Carrie, waiting for Chainsaw and his ‘ol’ lady’ to join us and either enter the restaurant or kill us and drag away the corpses for further use.

            I never thought I would say that I had dinner with anyone I considered to be too low class for Denny’s but by the end of that meal I certainly could. I cannot recall a more awkwardly uncomfortable meal, even dressed as an evil clown and having been kicked full force in the tuckus by Monkey-jaw. Chainsaw was exactly as I pictured him – a large Hells Angel biker type, heavyset, bearded, and perched in the cab of a rusted out pickup. I don’t remember what the woman’s name was but she didn’t say much and neither did I, content to allow him and Carrie jaw on about their mutual hobby.

            When it came time to order, Chainsaw gave very precise and adamant instructions regarding the preparation of his steak to the waitress, the likes of which could probably not be successfully implemented in a 5 star establishment much less the Denny’s on the bad side of Hampton. It arrived, he took one bite, and then called the poor waitress back and administered a long and blistering criticism of the quality of meat and cooking, reducing her almost to tears before he tossed her aside and demanded the manager. Another steak was brought and also failed to meet his lofty expectations, and this time the waitress did actually cry. The rest of us simply sat in uncomfortable silence. A third steak was brought and was apparently fit to eat so long as the entire cost of his dinner was stricken from the bill, which it was. He somehow managed to gobble down the other two as they were left at the table. When leaving he threw down a contemptuous one penny tip, which I supplemented with a twenty when he wasn’t looking. I urged Carrie not to meet this fellow again and she reluctantly agreed. Unfortunately, old Chainsaw was not the worst of the lot.

            We decided that October to actually come up with costumes and trick or treat around the dorms. We went with an obvious choice of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. I was to be the latter and simply bought a wolf man kit from Spencer’s. She wanted something better for herself and had been in contact with a CB couple where the woman liked to sew. I was subjected to a yet worse time that made me long for old Chainsaw and his erudite conversation.

            I had a bad first impression entering single story shack this couple dwelt in. She seemed nice enough but he appeared a real class act sitting perched on the edge of the ratty couch, shirtless, with a liter of cheap vodka and shot glass in front of him. The place reeked of liquor and smoke and I was loath to touch anything. By the nature of design I was relegated to keeping this fool company while Carrie and the woman disappeared into the back to speak of sewing and other niceties. I can’t remember this idiot’s name, but he looked like a real Cletus, so that’s what I’ll call him. Cletus in a burst of hospitality bustled out to the kitchen to get me my own shot glass; an item they were well stocked in if not much else. I tried to decline but he would hear none of it. The idea of drinking with this spittoon of genetic material sent alarm bells loud enough that I resisted the urge to drown the pain of his presence.

            Led Zeppelin cranked well above speaking volume, old Cletus poured shot after shot, clanked glasses with me and downed them as I dumped mine onto the floor behind the couch. I felt I was in no way causing damage that wasn’t already done and thus justified in my vandalous act. Once or twice I had to take a real one when under scrutiny, but otherwise avoided imbibing. Cletus, already well gone by the time I got there, seemed to be of a mercurial temperament that bordered on the psychotically rageful and I felt I would need my wits about me if I wished to walk away unscathed. I was very happy when the bottle neared completion and hoped it meant he would slink off to bed and allow me to escape with Carrie.

            I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my time and getting myself talked into the passenger seat of Cletus’s ride was near the top. My suggestion that we had enough was met with bitter disparaging accusations and not so veiled threats. Carrie of course was in the back room and heard none of this. Off to the liquor store we went, Cletus burning rubber down side streets as I prayed for a convenient cop or blown tire. Fortunately, the store was just a few blocks away. Despite his obvious intoxication beyond even the most redneck of statutes, they sold him another bottle of cheap stuff in clear violation of the posted signs admonishing the staff not to do such silly things. I was dismayed about being in for yet another round of faking shots and punishing the rug with alcohol abuse.

            Shortly after we returned, he finally had to hit the head and disappeared to make room for more rotgut. I sought out Carrie and made it abundantly clear we were leaving right then and there as “an emergency” came up and we were needed back at base ASAP. Cletus came out of the bathroom and looked crushed at seeing us pack up as he was under the impression that he and I were going to greet the dawn or finish the bottle, whichever came first. We gave hasty explanation and got the hell out. Moments after getting in her truck, Cletus came barreling out the back door onto his front lawn howling, spun about and mooned us while smacking his heinous buttocks with his hands. We pulled quickly away and could see him gesturing in the rear view mirror.

            On the way back to base we flipped on the CB only to hear Cletus on the band drunkenly shouting out the egregious wrong we had done to his hospitality. He followed this up with vile disgusting insults to the both of us as well as treating us to the tearing sound of fabric which he described as Carrie’s costume. She was in tears by the time we got back and I made her swear never to go back there again. Naturally she disregarded me completely and returned on her own to retrieve the costume later that week. Cletus wife or girlfriend wisely hid the costume when he started his tantrum, so it was apparently something else he tore up. His childish behavior was attributed to his feelings being hurt by our leaving; always the sign of a well bred man. I enacted an unbreakable boycott of meeting any further CB personnel.

            Soon after I moved off base and Carrie and I rapidly began to drift apart as I lived a good 45 minutes away. My friends had also come back from Saudi and didn’t end up appreciating her eclectic qualities as much as I did, forcing me to go though the burden of making separate plans which I found considerably annoying. We would get together occasionally to chat about Buffalo and “old times” and she ended up brokering a deal to have someone buy Dr Doom from me; a story for another day. Last I heard she got heavily into Wicca, a development of no surprise, and was engaged. Hopefully she threw that radio deep into the Chesapeake where it would be well at home with the rest of the bottom feeders.

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8 Responses

  1. This makes a trip to Jeff’s farm seem akin to an invite from the Queen. This was a good post, felt more like the original, college stories.

  2. Actually, you aren’t far off. I think the rest of the AF stories I have are fairly similar in nature to the college days.

  3. I’ve got a few books by Heyduke. One is “revenge” and the other is “Screw ‘Em.” Good reads.

    I’ve found guys named Ian are just bad news too. They think they’re so big with their bald heads and berrets. I also came up with a good name for a rival when I was with a girl. Of course, mime was much subtler, “fatboy.” I won her in the end by pretending that I didn’t care who she dated, while he couldn’t do enough for her.

    You know Mike, that was the worst I have ever heard from any of us. You need to cultivate a taste for the true wierdo, rather than the druken inbred.

    Still an excellent story.

  4. Unfortunately, it’s not the worst I have to share. I do have a fine palate for the true weirdo, but the problem was that in Virginia I was probably the most true to form of this type with the others being merely distasteful. It’s like having the nicest house on the block; you look out the window and think, “this is what I got to see every day?”

    I still have her Heyduke book – it’s “Make ‘Em Pay”. Back then I was still strongly in the habit of borrowing things and not returning them. It was a loathsome habit but I got a lot of free stuff that way. I have since reformed but still hear the siren call now and again.

  5. Ian is a French name, right?

  6. I think it’s Brittish, though they pronounce more like ‘een’ rather than the American ‘ean’ or Troglodyte ‘eye-an’.

  7. My mother often uses the Troglodyte version.

  8. Of course it is British which is why it is so ironic that it would be a name bestowed upon a beret-wearer.

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