The point of this post, if there is one, is that I have applied for no less than ten jobs in Saudi Arab today.
Some nine or so in various other shit holes, er, “Developing Countries,” just looking for my next war zone to make me famous, not unlike Hemmingway. At this point in life, I must admit: prolly ain’t gonna happen. All I can hope for is some good monies and some decent health insurance (and maybe some ESOP), but Hell! At this point, I’ll work for room and board…but never bored.
Me? Bored? Never.
Again, when do I get to get outraged? Ppl in Ferguson get to be outraged. I share their outrage, but I just want a small piece of that pie. I have more than one decade experience working in dangerous desolate places, yet, I find it so very difficult to find a job in same. I am feeling some outrage here! I should be entitled. I did my time. Hell! I served my country.
To quote some not so famous line from the movie, “The Right Stuff,” “Where is my parade with Jackie? I wanna meet Jackie. They owe me!” I want to meet Jackie. Or at the very least I want a window… into my golden years. End of Rant…
And of course, as y’all know, this was all ‘tongue-in-cheek’
“Hook ’em Horns!”
(That’s ‘Texan’ for ‘Suck it up and move that ball on down the field.’ Boys.)
Or, even better, to quote Dan Jenkins: “Y’all knew it was gonna be semi-tough, eh?”
And this “trailer” is semi-tough to watch, but it was as advertised: semi tough, as we were growing up in The Seventies.
And of course, as usual, this last link is the important one.
Months before the events inked here, here, here, and here, I found myself in Paris (actually two Paris’s—One Texan—One French). Confus’d yet? Stand by: it grows worse(r)
Let’s back up a mite (mites are hard to back up by the way, militarily that is: damn small and damn slippery, them mites… and they tend to mite-bite one, usually on one’s ass)
We call that “Green on Blue” and if you are following the recent news cycle, you will surely know that, that is inappropriate. But that is just how I roll. Screw Afghanistan and their pretended bullshit “We gonna take over security of our country…” Won’t happen. But after ten plus years there (and some several months there by me, after Iraq–got ‘liberated’–now there is yet another joke. I can speak to the idiocy that is ‘our’ foreign fallacy.
I was in Sinai, 1978 and I received a letter from my step-sis. This was not unusual back in those days, as we were still ‘speaking’. She sent me a rather long and boring letter regarding Honey Grove and all the ‘Happenings’ thereabouts. The letter was indeed ‘boring’ until I got to her ‘PS’. It read and I quote (loosely), “By the way, R is marrying J. Jesus-Beezus!”
This was, to me, devastation by way of bad.
‘How could she?! She was MINE. Mine to mine and to have and to hold… just as soon as I finished with my wanderlust. How dare she?!” How DARE she?!
What to do?
Well, I had some R&R time ‘on the books’ so I hopped on a freighter (airplane), and flew back to Texas, ostensibly to break up the marriage, just like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Problem was, was that I screwed up the dates and the logistics, and arrived not in time to bust up the wedding, but just in time to see the happy couple speeding off fast to Waco and their honeymoon.
Never having been more depressed at missing a rendezvous, what to do? Rebound Son! Rebound!
So, I sought out Janet. Let’s call it a ‘bank shot rebound.’ I knew she was working at the Hopkins Lamar (See? To this day, I never know which county I am in) County Courthouse as a probation officer, so I timed (this time, my timing was spot on) my entrance during her lunch break: Intercepted her coming down the stairs of the courthouse.
“C’est moi! How’s Trix?”
“You are supposed to be in Egypt,” she said.
“I escaped,” I said. “Wanna have lunch?”
“Uh… Sure. Why not?” (Why not indeed)
We went to lunch. Then she took the rest of the day. We went to her apartment and drank gin. Later that eve, after I had regaled her with fantastical tales of the Middle of the East, she took a drag from her Virginia Slim and asked, “So are you gonna f*#k me tonight, or what?”
I said, “No Ma’am; I am gonna make love to you—something I should have done five years ago.”
So we did—I did—make love to her.
The problem now became that I had a plane to catch to that other Paris: that one in France. The other part of the problem was that my plane was waiting in Houston. I was about five hours at seventy miles per hour away from my Air France plane at Houston Intercontinental. I had to go. Now.
I hit the road to Houston, not really wanting to go, but I had promised my buddy Bart, Black Bart, that I would meet him in Paris on such and such a day. Naturally, I ended up missing my flight and arrived Paree a day late. On the taxi ride from Charles de Gaulle airport we drove under a bridge and the taxi car lost its windshield to a lone rifle shot. (my theory) “Terrorist?” I asked the cabby? (en français).
“Merde!” Was all he said, as he dodged the flying glass. I did not care anyhow, but this rather happenstance occurrence did not bode well for my first day in Gay Paree.
“There’s my hotel!” I exclaimed as he had managed to (somehow) keep driving.
I paid him off, got out of his now mangled, windshield-less cab and made my way into the cheap hotel lobby. Went up to my room, dropped my shit; then went looking for my buddy. Found him at last sitting on his rack, rather sullen in mood. I checked out his room. It had a wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower.
“So Bart,” I asked finally, “What have you done here in The City of Light for twenty-four hours?”
“You see that tower there?” he asked, pointing to the window.
“Yep,” I said. “That would be the Eiffel Tower.”
“Well, since you didn’t show, I went out on my own… and hey! Ya know what, they don’t speak English here? I went out on my own. (You mentioned that) Walked over to that tower, looked up at it—kicked it—and said to myself, ‘Yep. That there Bartamus, that there is the Eiffel Tower. Then I came back here and took a nap. And would you please tell that France Maid that I do not want no f*#kin’ breakfast? She wakes me up in the f*#king morning with her biscuits (‘croissants’ Asshole) and lousy coffee.”
“Sure Bart,” I said. “I will post a note, en français on yer door.”
“You speak France?”
“Well Hot Damn then! You be Bogey. I’ll be Bacall.” (of course)
“I weren’t able to bust up the wedding.”
“Oh you mean between R and J?”
“Yep. That one, you moron.”
“Yer better off,” he said.
“OK. Then why am I so depressed?”
“Dunno. Did you have any other adventures while you were back In-The-World?”
“Matter of fact, I did. I hooked up with Janet.”
“Nope. No bullshit. Why I missed my flight, in fact.”
“Well, I was just about pissed off at you, but now I unnerstand.”
“Thanks for that,” I said.
“Hey!” he said. “Let’s smoke a bowl and you can tell me all about it while we go and kick this town in the ass.”
“Light her up,” I said. We smoked and drank and then off we went stoned and semi-drunk and in Paris (France) Just two more ugly Americans (Texans)
I hesitated while choosing the vid to represent this post. Then I swerved onto this one below. It is somewhat depressing, yeah. But, but… This is how I see my life ending up. I hope you will take the time to watch, listen, and comment.
I sped off still heading south. I observed her fade fast in my rearview mirror, but not before I saw her mouth hanging open in wide disbelief (As if I were actually calling her bluff). After about a half-mile and her no longer in sight, I stopped, opened a beer, popped in a Joni Mitchell–Hejira–cranked it up, lit a Marlboro and waited.
Presently I could make out her petite form marching through the sandy haze, her skinny arms flailing back and forth, not unlike a power-walker. As I watched her approach I snuffed out my second cigarette, tossed the empty beer bottle onto the back floorboard, turned down the volume on Joni’s Black Crow, and waited to see if she was getting back in the car.
She opened the door, threw herself in and off we drove, not saying a word until we got within about five clicks of Sharm el Sheikh. Her face was dirty with trails of sweat running down, making small rivers of mud, her hair windblown and looking to have absorbed quite some substantial part of the Sinai.
She did not look happy.
“Are you sorry?” she finally blurted out.
“Sorry? Sorry for what?”
“Sorry for being an asshole,” she said.
“Oh, that… What!?” I was genuinely confused.
“For refusing to have sex with me this morning after that Israeli dude left.”
Now I am laughing. She wasn’t.
“Are you fucking serious Janet?” I asked after I had regained some composure. “You heard the man. We had tovacate. Did you think I was in the mood for love? With the IDF watching us? Shit Woman! It was time to go.”
“There was time enough… in the tent,” she said somewhat between clenched teeth and somewhat subdued—at the same time—a talent she had perfected over some years. (Ed. Note: Janet had five years on me)
“You are unbelievable. Okay, ‘I’m sorry for not fucking you’. Gimme another go? Right here. Right now. In this fuckin’ heat and in this fuckin’ sardine can of a car? Or would you prefer it on the burning sand with the scorpions and spiders?! For Chrissake Janet!”
“There was a time when you’d never refuse me, no matter where or what,” she said and then clammed up, starring out the window.
Fine! I thought as I gave the volume back up to Joni.
Just on the outskirts of Sharm (The whole Sinai Pennisula was ‘Outskirts’) we came upon a Bedioun ‘roadside do drop in’ sort of place.
“Hey Janet! Let’s check this out.”
“Can’t we just go in to Sharm?”
“No. I wanna talk to these folks. Besides they may have some stuff we need.”
“Fine.” (And then someday too soon, this woman would be my wife…)
I parked the car and got out. Janet cleaned her sunglasses and remained behind. I walked up to the ramshackle place and was greeted by an old grizzled Bedouin.
“Salaam alaikum,” I said.
“Salaam alaikum,” he said back. Then, “Amer-ca?”
“Yes,” said. “English? Speak?”
(I spoke just enough Arabic (and Hebrew) to get me into trouble back then.)
“Sodas? Coke-a-cola?” I asked.
I gave him a pack of Marlboros. He gave me two cokes. Apparently inflation had set in here. I smiled though and shook his hand, happy to have made some cultural advancement. Jimmy Carter shoulda seen me that day. Got back in the car. Janet, still incogneto, remarked,
“Was that worth it?”
“Yes. It was. Thank you. We are reps of the State Department. WE are suppose to be ambassadors. Don’t you git it?’
“Yeah. I ‘git’ it. I get that I want this trip to end soon. I am tired and hot and sweaty and thirsty and hungry and horny. And I see no end in sight for me.”
We drove on into Sharm.
As I have reported, Sharm back then was not much. There was one hotel, but who had money (or desire) for that? It had a tentative look about it anyhow. This was ‘Israeli-Occupied Egypt’ after all and finding investors to pump money into a region, however beautiful, must have been difficult, given the volatility of the times and the probability that Israel would eventually give the desert back to Egypt (even though Israel had ‘held’ the Sinai for more than ten years at this point)
Past the hotel was a small ‘camping ground’ of sorts. There were ‘bird houses’ for rent: ten bucks per night and a communal shower/latrine area. I say ‘bird houses’, because that is exactly what they resembled: Thatched roof, two wooden ‘bunks’ side-by-side, and too small for a six-foot-one cowboy to sleep on. I lay down and test-drove one. I discovered that by leaving the door open I could be fine with the sleeping arrangements, letting my feet hang out, though if Janet and I were to have some privacy for any ‘Woo-Hoo’ / ‘Whoopee’, we would have to pretend we were in the back seat of a compact car and make due. (Unless we opted to keep the door open: an option my shyness would never allow me to consider)
At this point I must admit Janet was always a trooper during such times. She was of course a soldier, albeit a weekend one, and had previous experience with less-than-pristine habiliments. After we had decided to spend the night at this place, taken our showers, had some drink and sandwiches, her mood (and mine) improved as the sun went down and the heat subsided. Behind us were the mountains. In front of us, the sea, and ahead of us, our future.
We were after all, two lovebirds deep in love and in our own private birdhouse.
We made love in that birdhouse after sundown.
And with the door open.
And why not?
We were young.
(And we had all that ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ bullshit to boot)
The IDF soldier navigated down the hill as Janet got ‘properly’ dressed inside our tent to greet our visitor. I didn’t bother. I figured cut-offs and no shirt just fine. As for him, well he had slightly longish unkempt hair, as was the norm for IDF soldiers back then. Most of them were reservists anyhow. IDF was a mega-weekend-warrior class anyhow. His beret was tucked into his shirt at the shoulder. His olive-drab uniform was dusty. In general, the IDF Army was unkempt, un-kept, un-disciplined and Fucking Ferocious.
This truth never did escape me. Some respect from me was obviously the ‘order of my day’ here…
I watched him cautiously descend onto the my beach. The night before I had un-cautiously descended and ascended (ten times), full of false courage brought about by some imbibing and dope. But what the hell! So… I studied his unsteady progress toward me.
As he approached he switched to English, “This is restricted zone,” he said as he pointed with his rifle over his shoulder to what looked to be a military base of some minor proportions.
“Well, It was dark when we got here and I didn’t notice,” I lied.
“You must leave. Now.”
“Something wrong?” Janet said, sticking her head out of our tent.
“Janet, I got this. Go back inside,” I almost barked.
“Fine!” she said. “Gin or Whiskey for breakfast?”
“Fine!” she huffed and disappeared inside the tent.
Turning my attention back to the IDF soldier, I asked/said, “So ‘we’ (Meaning US, the U.S. of us), can pay for this ‘wonderful’ base here in Sinai, and you come climbing down from ‘Mount Fucking Sinai’ to inform me that I am not welcome here? Is this correct?”
He laughed at that and proceeded to take a seat on a beer cooler next to our now burnt out campfire. At least this one had a sense of humor.
“I am Jacob,” he said. “And who are you my American Friend?”
“Lance,” I said, cautiously extending my hand, which he took and shook earnestly. “Would you like some breakfast? We have tuna fish, whiskey, or gin. Your choice.”
Again he laughed. “Coffee?”
“Fraid not. Sorry.”
“I noticed you have some ice in your big cooler. Where did you get it?” (How did he know this?)
“Eilat,” I said.
“Do not drink the water from the melted parts then.”
“Because it is made with ammonia at the factory in Eilat. Toxic. Do not drink the water.”
“Hell! My man! I drink the water in Cairo.”
“Your funeral then.”
We laughed some more. I was warming up to this guy.
“Seriously though my friend, you cannot remain here.”
“Yeah? Well, we were planning to push south today anyhow. South to Ras Mohammed.”
“Beautiful diving and snorkeling there. Mind the sharks though.”
“The ‘Sharks’ are why we are going.”
“All you Americans… are Cowboys?” he snorted.
“Okay then. Bonne chance! I take my leave now. Be sure you take yours too. Soon. Shalom.”
“Cheers, and nice to meet you Jacob.”
“Bye,” he said and walked away.
“Well, you fucked that up,” Janet said, finally emerging from the tent.
“Now we have to leave this place.”
“Janet, I never intended to stay here more than the one night. I wanna get to Ras.”
“I like it here.”
“Pack your shit. We’re leaving now.”
She ‘packed her shit’ and I schlepped it and the rest up the cliff and loaded our little chariot. Within two hours we were back on the road again, heading south. As we were driving through the Sinai with the mountains on our right, she pulled out her Bible and instructedinvited demanded of me to ‘turn off that damn noise.’ That ‘noise’ was Bob Marley and I hesitated… for a moment, then saw some seriousness in her brown eyes and acquiesced. She opened her ‘book’ and began to read from Genesis. I must admit it was fitting, given the time and the place.
We spent some miles in this activity. I smoked some cigarettes and studied the landscape. The Sinai Desert along the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba is wondrous beautiful. As I said, the contrast moved me. Janet’s reading (which she did quite well, I may add) added to the ambiance. This girl had some talents. “In the beginning…”
But, the magic moments could not last (Janet and I had a propensity for combat). We eventually got into an argument about thirty clicks outside of Sharm el Sheik. I was slightly gin-buzzed by this point and in no mood for…
“Stop the fuckin’ car!” She shouted.
“Stop the FUCKING CAR!”
“Shit! What for?!”
“I’m getting out! That is what FOR!”
“Janet, we’re in the middle of a fucking desert in a Muslim / Bedouin country. Are you sure?”
“Yes! Goddamn it! I am sure. Stop the fucking car. I hate you!” (Not entirely sure where this sentiment came from, but it was, I could see, sincere.)
“Fine!” I stopped the car. “Don’t forget your fuckin’ Virginia Slims,” I said as she opened the door, got out and proceeded to ‘march’ down the empty road.
I would have (should have) left her there, but y’all know I could not.
Driving from Eilat to Ras Mohammed (Sinai) with the first wife.
Okay, we were not married at that time. (At least not in ‘her’ God’s eyes.) We were both working at SFM and had coordinated our R&R schedule so that we could spend that week together. ‘Bliss’ Promised, promise of same…
We arrived in Tel Aviv and immediately went off to rent a car for our ‘camping’ trip. Our itinerary required us to first make the rather long and somewhat treacherous drive to Elait (‘treacherous’ because of the roads) where I hoped to get in a few more dives toward qualifying me as a bona-fide PADI deep-sea-diver. Then we were to head further south all the way to Ras Mohammad, on the southernmost tip of the Sinai, perhaps stopping or staying at Sharm El Sheik along the way. (Sharm back then was all about nothingness, still Israeli-Occupied Egypt and not the tourist trap it is today.)
We had loaded up our tiny rental car with way too much camping stuff, ‘checked out’ from the rec center we had at Sinai Field Mission Base camp. We had a tent, (such as it was), cooking utensils, sleeping bags, lanterns, coolers, and et cetera, ‘et cetera’ mostly being booze, of course) And of course we had schlepped along my boom box, extra batteries, and about five dozen cassette tapes. My life needed musical accompaniment back then. Always.
We left Elait and proceeded south. The road hugged the Gulf of Aqaba. The contrast was stunning. I mean, every once in a while I would stop the car, grab a snorkel and, well, go snorkeling. The colors under the sea were so vibrant, as opposed to the desolation of the desert behind me. Now, do not mistake: I love the Sinai. It is perhaps the most beautiful desert in the world. But. But! The coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba! As I did say: color contrast.
We got about half-way to Sharm and Ras Mohammad, and as it was getting late, I decided ‘time to camp’. We parked the car on a very small ‘break-down’ lane and as Janet watched, I schlepped all the ‘gear’ down a ravine, or rather a ‘clif’ to the beach and the camping site I had proclaimed, ‘perfect.”
Set up the camp. Opened a bottle of ‘fine’ Israeli wine. Turned up the boom box. Cooked some chicken bits over a make-shit campfire. Ate. Then… had to shit. (I had been drinking apple juice all day—ran through me—needed to evacuate—embarrassed—
“Uh Janet, I need to leave you here for a min or two…”
“Just do. I’ll be back… soon. Okay?”
So, I grabbed a roll of T-paper and headed off into the darkness, looking for a place to take a righteous shit, diarrhea shit. Found one. Did the deed. Happy and sated. Went back to our camp site. Found Janet laughing her ass off.
“What’s so fuckin’ funny?” I asked.
“Your toilet paper preceded you!” She said.
“Yeah! The wind blew it all over here!”
We made love in the ‘tent.’ and fell asleep. The next early morning, we were awakened by the sounds of someone yelling at us in Hebrew: