I honestly don’t remember much about it; I’ve slept since then. But I do remember the Army had some people come by to tell us about what they do. This group had a whole classroom to themselves. To this day, I have no idea why I walked into that classroom. I guess I decided that I needed to know what it was all about. I didn’t get all the details, but I got the main key point, which was, I am in no way, shape, or form, fit to be all I can be.
I’d like to make it clear that I have the highest respect for those in the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force. They’re the reason we have and keep our freedom. You Sir(s) and Madam(s), and even the pups and other animals that are within your organizations, are heroes.
But I’m also an honest person. So, believe me when I say, we’re both better off with me staying out of the service. There is nothing I can do for you, unless you need someone to lay in the fetal position and cry.
When I walked in, there was a group of men and women there talking amongst themselves. There was a man and woman who stood outside the group, I guess they were the leaders? I don’t know what you call them. And then, there was this elderly gentleman, all decorated with shiny pins and buttons on his uniform. His salt and pepper hair was combed back and he reminded me of someone’s grandfather.
When the class filled up with about twenty students, they started their spill. I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember them saying the Army wanted us. I had no idea what for. And that, these people were in something called Boot Camp. The next thing I knew, they had huddled us into a crowd and were now telling us to stand next to each other in rows. Our feet had to be a part, hands behind our back, don’t slouch (I didn’t even know what that meant), and keep your head up.
The older gentlemen looked us over real quick and then pointed to me.
“You,” he said, “You’re going to be the leader.
The woman that I mentioned earlier, who stood away from the crowd, came up to me. She bent down and began to give me instructions, almost as if, she didn’t have a lot of time.
“You’re going to say about face,” she told me.
Then she told me three other things that I needed to say, but by the time we got to the fourth one, I had already forgotten the first.
Uh—could you repeat that? But before I could ask, she stepped back away from me and assumed the position of feet apart, hands behind your back, and looking straight ahead. So, you’re just going to leave me hanging like that? Then the elderly gentlemen walked up to me.
“Are you the leader,” he asked.
I had no idea what was going on. I was still trying to figure out why all these people looked so unhappy and nervous.
“I guess,” I answered honestly.
Ladies and gentlemen, that was the wrong answer.
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T KNOW,” he shouted, “YOU EITHER ARE OR YOU AREN’T!”
Well, I was five.
I was still trying to figure out other things, like—why we needed math in our lives and what the teachers’ lounge really looks like. Someone said it was a game room. Those were the questions I needed answered. But you didn’t see me yelling at people about it. Might I suggest decaf, sir?
I stood there, silently, still reeling back from being shouted at.
“SO, ARE YOU THE LEADER,” he shouted again.
“Yes,” I managed.
Why are we shouting?
“Alright, turn around and look at your platoon,” he told me.
I turned and looked at my classmates, who were just as shocked.
“You’re going to tell them what to do,” the man told me.
Okay, fine. What’s a platoon?
“Repeat after me,” he told me.
You guys are all about people’s faces, aren’t you?
All those people that were huddled together in a group, were now fanned out in the group of students. They showed each one what ‘about face’ was and the students had to copy.
“Now,” the guy told me, “say, RIGHT FACE.”
Sir, do you need a hearing aid?
Then we went onto left face, and a whole bunch of other things. We were there for only a couple of minutes, but I realized why all these people (who were apparently called soldiers) seemed so unhappy.
My kingdom for a Xanax. I didn’t even know what a Xanax was, they hadn’t created the DARE classes yet.
“Alright,” he told me, after everyone’s ears were ringing, “Tell them to drop and give you ten.”
When I said it, the other soldiers proceeded to show my classmates how to do ten push-ups. I looked over at the older gentlemen as he watched everyone struggle to do one push up.
You’re just drunk with the power, aren’t you, Sir? Should I go get a teacher?
After everyone was gasping for air and upright again, the guy took a step-in front of me and spoke to us all.
“Alright, soldiers, this was your first Boot Camp. We’ll resume again at 1300 hours.”
Sir, we just started our times tables. But, if I happen to figure out what that means, I’ll make it a point not to avoid it at all costs.