I saw it fitting to delay this season’s Remembrance Day post until after Remembrance Day so we can look back and remember Remembrance Day and all the remembering we did.
This year I took out a craigslist ad asking for real deal war stories to go with a bowl of my dad’s poppy pappardelle with chunky gun sauce. The most poignant tale came from a gentleman who survived both the Iraq War as well as a war in his neighbourhood that had something to do a very smelly cat. The solider decided to orate the story to me in person so I had to do my best to scribble the tale on my jacket using a combination of hand soap from the Tim Horton’s bathroom and strawberry goo from the Tim Horton’s white donut. What follows is my best attempt at paraphrasing the tale and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy warts on a witch.
When I turned twenty I had two things on my mind — Star Wars and the world’s tallest woman. All of that changed when I saw two small children fighting over the last autumn McIntosh at the local orchard where my uncle would take me to to strip bark to sell to a middling mobile artist. Every urge in my body told me to stop them, but I had no authority. I asked my uncle what it took to be a cop and he told me “all you need is a tolerance for bullshit and a pair of balls that don’t mind getting squished now and then”. I told him that there are a lot of female police officers and he said “Santa’s not a girl, is he?”. I ignored him and resumed stripping my last trunk when it occurred to me that maybe the armed forces was the right choice. I wasn’t totally into the idea at first because to me, the army is just a lot of bad food and toilets so clean you almost feel weird blasting them. Since my uncle had several buddies who had served at one point or another I asked him some questions:
Q: Are the haircuts really that bad?
A: How itchy is too itchy?
Q: Are all superior officers mean?
A: No, some of them are really good lickers
Q: Can I order pizza if I want?
A: Only a superior officer can, but it happens quite often
It was this answer that really sold me on enrolling because it meant I could retain one of my most treasured freedoms. A month later I was off to Cougar Pit, Ontario to begin my career.
I guess the realities of the armed forces became apparent shortly after my first assignment, which was providing underwear jokes to a high-ranking admiral stationed off the coast of Edmonton. We were in the barracks, getting ready to bleach the sheets when I felt a rumble in my tummy.
“Sir, permission to speak, sir”
“Sir we’ve been working for three hours. Can we order pizza, sir”
“You want order pizza?”
“Sir, uh, yes sir”
“Okay, Order: Pizza it is”
The admiral pushed a button on the wall, a button I’d never noticed before. Once pressed the button emitted a high, screeching alarm and every solider in each of the 13 barracks emptied into the yard. The troops formed a circle as the stable master led seven, mud-caked fillies into the ring. The cook emerged from the mess hall with an arm full of brushes and a large can of tomato sauce.
“Did they get sprayed?” asked the cook.
“Nope, but cadet (name withheld) called for Order: Pizza. I guess he thought the horses needed scrubbing.”
The rest of that afternoon was spent cleaning every one of those horses down to the last hair. The admiral gave me tail duty and I was forced to learn to braid on the spot, something most men have the luxury of learning while their little sister prepares fake fucking tea for dolly and stuffed toad. That night I couldn’t sleep, reflecting on what my uncle had told me and how initially excited I was knowing I’d be allowed to eat my favourite food in my second favourite government-funded organization, the first being public pools. But it was all either a misunderstanding or the darkest lie. I did stick with the army, saw some action and saved some lives but I’ll never forget that wake-up call. I’ll never forget Order: Pizza.
Oh MAN! What a silly story. There is one interpretation of this post where the whole thing is a dream because I ate too much poppy stew. I’ll leave you with a seasonal joke:
What’s the difference between Remembrance Day and Halloween? Nothing, they’re both about ghosts.