Hell of a Guy
Adventure is worthwhile - Aesop

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Military Daze


Back in 1963 serving in the United States military for a young American male was looked at as a rite of passage.  So, one day, at the tender age of 19 years, 7 months, and 6 days, I enlisted in the United States Air Force.  I was excited about what lay ahead, about the classy uniform I would wear and about the amazing training I would receive in one of the “career fields” I had chosen with the guidance of my recruiter (that son-of-a-bitch).

On September 16th at about 8pm I left the induction center at Fort Holabird, Maryland with 100 or so fellow recruits and traveled to Friendship Airport outside of Baltimore, as BWI was then called, to board a TWA Constellation for the long flight to San Antonio, Texas and Lackland Air Force Base.  Having taken an oath to “solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God,” I was ready to man up; to be the best I could be; to serve my country, and to look good in my USAF uniform.

We arrived in San Antonio in the wee hours of the next morning and immediately boarded a bus that would take us to the base and our first day of Basic Training.  I am not sure what I expected to find at the Air Force Reception Center, but what I got was 180 degrees from any expectation I might have had.  As I exited the bus with my fellow recruits and hearing the voice of some jerk yelling at the top of his lungs, I suddenly realized I had made a grievous error in judgment.  I knew within seconds of stepping off the bus this boy was never meant to be in the military.  The “Gestapo” types who were there to “welcome” us spoke only in deafening, abusive tones.  I did not enlist to be told upon my arrival that I was a useless, brainless, stupid piece of shit.  This was not what I wanted to hear at 4:30 in the morning.  It was not my best Tuesday ever, but more like the end of the world as I knew it…and it was.  It was the longest day of my life, and it is still very vivid in my memory. 

Shortly after arriving there for Basic Training I discovered a four-year calendar I could fold small enough to carry in my wallet.  For four years I took it out every day and crossed off that day with a little “x” mark.  This little action helped to make it the longest four-year period of my life.  I thought it would never end. 

My Air Force career lasted only for the time I agreed to serve with my enlistment.  The career field I ended up in was not one I had selected with the assistance of that SOB recruiter.  To say he lied through his teeth with a smile would be a gross understatement; he would have made a great politician.  My time in the military did provide me with some truly great life experiences.  Among these some were quite useful at the time, but not so much any longer - I learned how to march in step with a group of with 50-60 others, clean floors with a tooth brush, arise in the middle of the night with a smile as some idiot beat on a metal trash can lid with a stick, and to keep all of my earthly belongings in a wooden box 3’x2’x2’, and I must not forget to mention how I learned to eat some sumptuous meals like over-cooked liver and “shit on a shingle.”  My how I do not miss those days, but I must admit some good things happened to me in between my enlistment and my discharge.

To think this occurred 50 years ago this month is to me mind boggling.  Time really does fly.  In fact, 50 years ago today I would have had seven little “x” marks on calendar.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Pain in My…


So, I have a pain.  I have had this pain for about a month.  The discomfort emanates from just to the left of the spine in the small of my back.  It is most prevalent at night when I am in bed, and the dull ache often wakes me when I attempt to turn to my left or right side.

Yes, I have been to the doctor.  I went yesterday after thinking the pain was nothing more than a pulled or strained muscle, and moreover the simple fact it has been nearly a month since I first noticed it and has not gotten any better.  The end result of the visit with my favorite physician, after spending nearly two hours in his office – ex-rays, blood tests and a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and also one to treat muscle spasms and pain.  I was hoping for a simple shot of something to make it all go away, but noooo!!! 

As I picked up my meds at the pharmacy I was given two brochures with information pertinent to the medications.  The meds are easy enough; one is to be taken three times a day, the other just twice.  I can handle it.  With one I have to drink water and take it with some food.  This I can handle, two pills a day with water and not on an empty stomach.  I got this, piece of cake for sure, that is until I read the brochures and the possible side effects.

Note what this says?  “Most patients (hoping I am in this category) benefit from nabumetone and other NSAIDs with few (define ‘few,’ please?) side effects. However, serious side effects can (not ‘may’ but ‘can’) occur, and generally (rather than usually) tend to be dose-related. Therefore, it is advisable to use the lowest effective dose (without any definition as to what this might be) to minimize side effects. The most common side effects of nabumetone involve the gastrointestinal system (yippe!). Some (not all) studies have shown that nabumetone may (not ‘will’) have a lower risk of gastrointestinal side effects than the other NSAID medications. However, like the other NSAID medications, it still can (not ‘might,’ thank God) cause ulceration, abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, gastritis, even serious gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver toxicity. Sometimes, ulceration and bleeding can occur without any abdominal pain (oh, good!). Black tarry (say what?) stools, weakness, and dizziness upon standing may be the only signs of internal bleeding.”  (Additional comments in parentheses are mine, all mine, and are purely for effect on what is said as to possible side-effects by taking this medication…whatever, you get the point.) 

Having read this carefully a couple of times, I wonder if the tradeoff is worth it.  My back pain goes away but I crap myself, throw up, fart and might possibly bleed to death in a state of dizziness while cramping, but at least I “might, ””may” or “can” sleep better.  I am about to flip a coin.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Thursday, September 12, 2013

He Was Known As “Big Daddy”...


Throughout my life I have known many people but few touched my life as this man did.

I believe it was in the late summer of 1974 I began to work for Winfree H. Slater Realtors.  Mr. Slater passed away this week at 95-years of age. He was called “Win” by many and was “Big Daddy” to those of us who had the distinct pleasure of working for him.  Win Slater was an extraordinary man.

When this man entered a room he did so with a military bearing; his head held high, standing tall, and his shoulders back, he had an undeniable presence.  He was a self-made, confident leader.  His baritone voice was evidence of his confidence and his leadership.  Winfree Slater was one of a kind, and Lord, will he be missed.

For some inexplicable reason he liked me.  Over the years when he was active in his real estate business, Winfree Slater employed some top-notch real estate superstars in Richmond, Virginia.  I was not one of them, and had I been him I would have gotten rid of me after a few months.  As far as real estate acumen was concerned, I sucked.  But he allowed me to stay with his firm for six years where for the most part I merely took up desk space and struggled to maintain a bare minimum income.  Still, this man affected me and an effect of me, and I will be forever in his debt. I am more than certain many feel exactly the same as I.

I had the pleasure of spending a little time with him on his 95th birthday, and it was the last time I saw him.  Confined to a wheel chair and in an assisted living facility, he still resonated the bearing he always had and probably did to the very end.  I am certain this man is in Heaven and has assumed a leadership role.  It is the only role he knows.

God bless, my old friend Winfree Slater.  To use a father’s last words to his son at his son’s funeral, “I will see you when I see you.” 

And that is all I have to say about that…

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

I Love Me…


Nice title, eh?  And, no, this is not a narcissistic view of this Hell of a Guy.  It is actually about you.

Back in April of this year I had the very distinct pleasure of speaking to two classes at the Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland.  In the spring of 2012 I met a teacher, better described as an “Outstanding Educator,” at an event in Washington, DC.  At some point in our conversation I gave him one of the business cards I carry with name on it and my http://www.hell-of-a-guy.com  blog address.  I like handing out the cards just to hear the chuckle people utter as they read the name of it, never really thinking people might actually visit it and read my BS, let alone like it.  Mr. Shindel did, and several months later asked me to consider speaking to his philosophy classes to discuss my philosophy on life and my views on it.  I was flattered.

I must admit I was a tad uncomfortable as he and I entered the first class.  As I wrote in an early piece I posted, I seriously wondered if this soon to be 70-year old could impart anything to a class of 17- and 18-year olds could possibly relate to.  Most all of the students had, somewhat surprisingly, accessed my website and read some of my stuff.  Again, I was very flattered.  We discussed a lot of things, and both of the 45-minute classes whizzed by, and as I left that school that afternoon I had to wonder again if I said enough, too much or even too little. 

One point I hit on was “love,” and I very much hope what I said stuck.  I asked the kids when they looked in the mirror could they honestly say to the reflection they saw, “I love you?”  I went on to say I wholeheartedly believe unless you love yourself you really cannot give love truly to another, and I totally believe this to be true; I know it is true.

In his book “Conversations with God” Neale Donald Walsch wrote his description of “unconditional love” and I have to agree with him 100%.  He wrote unconditional love is given only when there is no need or expectation of the loved one.  An example of this is with my love for The Nancy which I didn’t even realize until I read this book.  After all these years The Nancy knows she doesn’t have to anything nor do I have any expectations of her in order for me to love her; she just has to be The Nancy, and I love the hell out of her for it and always will.

Now, if you can go to a mirror and look deep into your own eyes and without a shred of doubt say “I love you” to yourself, congratulations.  If you cannot it is time to begin asking yourself why not and make some changes.  Then you can be a narcissist like me and love the hell out of someone like The Nancy.

And that is all I have to say about that…