Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Back in college, I had a buddy who dropped out of school to go live in New Orleans and have a little adventure in his life.

It being the height of the Vietnam conflict, he was drafted about fifteen minutes after he left the campus.

That wasn't exactly the adventure he had in mind; however, he decided to make the best of a bad situation.

Like me, he was not the kind of fellow who submitted docilely to authority, especially from those he considered inferior -- which was just about everybody -- and once he got into the Army and realized that he had to do what they told him -- that disobeying orders would get his ass tossed into the stockade, he lit out. AWOL, they called it then, UA, later. Since he wasn't planning on going back, it was legally desertion, but since the war was undeclared, they couldn't shoot him, and he figured as long as he kept his military ID card, if caught, he could claim he was planning to return eventually. After he took care of some things.

That is technically true. Of course, after a month, burden of proof that you planned to go back is on you. My buddy wrote a letter to somebody telling them he was going to do that, and he thought it would be sufficient. See? I said I was going back.

Eventually, after a couple of years, he did go back. He gave himself up. The military didn't buy his excuse and found that he was past AWOL and into desertion. He served some time, was dishonorably discharged, and went on about his life.

Forty years later, he died.

But fun part is, what he told his children about his military service. I found this out when I talked to them after he passed away.

He had been, he'd said, against the war, and so vociferous in his anti-war stance that the military had thrown him out.

I almost peed myself laughing at that one. My old buddy would have happily machinegunned whole villages had it come to that. He was not anti-war, he was anti-being-ordered-around. He was a deserter, convicted of that by the military, and sent to Leavenworth. But he spun it so that he sounded heroic and virtuous to a generation that grew up with hippie parents, instead of just plain stupid, which he was.

Shading the truth to one's advantage is common enough. Putting one's self in a somewhat brighter light to shine a little more is understandable. But outright, bald-faced, never-happened lies are horses of entirely different colors ...


Viro said...

*shrug* By the time he told that spiel to his kids, maybe even he believed it.

Steve Perry said...

I know a writer who believes he was abducted by aliens, taken aboard their ship, and that they have been watching him since.

I have my doubt that this is true.

In my old pal's case, I was there, so I know the story is horse hockey. And I used to know him well enough to know he knew it was, too ...