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Sergeant Masterson, M.D.
By Dan Martin

The mentally retarded, I discovered, love the military. I was unaware of this fact until it was pointed out that there were so many of us.

"What's your name, Son!"


"Jesus Christ you retard! Your last name!"

In Basic Training many of us also suffered, simultaneously, from the affliction known only to Sergeant Masterson as "Dumbassitis." In case we weren't convinced, second opinions were available. This involved a meticulous medical procedure, usually at 4:30 A.M., as a bat slammed against a garbage pail inches from our faces. If we expressed symptoms of panic and fear the diagnosis was clear:

"Dumbassitis, boy. You got it."

But day after day of standing on a cold tile floor with nothing but a pair of boxer shorts on and a grown man screaming and spitting in my face led me to believe that he was onto something. I needed no second opinion.

Although the only certificate I ever saw on the wall of Sgt. Masterson's office was the one that claimed he and his buddies finished first place in the flag football league, I was stunned by his ability as a medical professional. Without the use of any thermometer, stethoscope, or blood pressure pump, he was able to diagnose me with the rare and acute disease of homosexuality. In fact, he diagnosed twenty-seven of us, all of whom were cured by graduation. The only known treatment was a proven method that involved getting you familiar with the darkness inside of your locker until you admitted that you were in fact suffering from the disease. Quite tricky that homosexuality is, but according to Sgt. Masterson, completely curable.

Of course, he wasn't just a general practitioner. On top of dabbling in dermatology and proctology, Sergeant Masterson must have been a very well known gynecologist once as well. In times of great pain and stress, like when I fell behind in a formation run, heaving and gasping for air, he would ask me if my vagina hurt. I appreciated his concern, but politely objected, claiming that I was tired. This led to a whole world of afflictions I apparently suffered from. To start, I was a clear-cut moron. My inability to keep up the pace was a fact that I was defective, like a coffee pot that wouldn't brew. Then there was the fact that my head was in my ass, that my brain was steeped in shit, and that all hope was lost in the war against stupidity.

Later at the barracks, I discovered Sgt. Masterson was also a vocational counselor. He insisted that I must get a job in the fashion industry since every good woman knew how to sew. Or that I should stand at the edge of the driveway and hold the mailbox, since the post was too busy being smarter than me. It was also recommended that I go lay down in a garden to join the rest of the rocks, or that I might be good at wearing a target and running around the firing range. But ultimately, I was perfect for hurling myself off a cliff since the space I was occupying was desperately needed by others.

Sergeant Masterson was also a motivational speaker, excelling in the power of positive reinforcement. He was always there when you needed him most, like when it looked as if you may not be able to finish the obstacle course.

"What's your best friend's name, Son!"

"Eric, Sir!"

"And what's your girlfriend's name, Son!"

"Jennifer, Sir!"

"How does it feel that Jennifer is going down on Eric right now, Son?!"

"Not very good, Sir!"

"You're damn right you retard! Now finish the damn course!"

"Yes, Sir!"

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