By Dan Martin
mentally retarded, I discovered, love the military. I was unaware
of this fact until it was pointed out that there were so many of
"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
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!"
"And what's your girlfriend's name, Son!"
"How does it feel that Jennifer is going down on Eric right
"Not very good, Sir!"
"You're damn right you retard! Now finish the damn course!"
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