A New Exercise

25 Jun

Tuesday, May 28, 1968, 78 days

The pastor was praising the parents for their choice of a tattoo for their newborn son’s dedication to the Lord. The couple beamed with pride as the camera zoomed in for a close up of the rainbow over the ark. It was one of the more popular tattoos, since the church integrated the latest secular social craze into its liturgy.

Baby’s were tattooed shortly after birth, so the church decided to give the secular pagans a spiritual, Christian alternative.  “It would be both a fashion statement and a replacement to the religious practice of infant baptism in Catholic and Lutheran churches or dedication to God in Protestant denominations,” the pastor said.  

Then he continued.  “Every parent decides what image to choose or create, to have tattooed on their baby.  It would be whatever represented the archetype of what you hoped that child would become. It could be a real person, including the parents themselves, or it could be a fictitious creation of another, as in literature or a symbolic image that represented a Biblical theme. Then the child would spend the rest of their life either fulfilling, struggling to fulfill or completely rejecting the expectations that were placed on them.  The ultimate rejection would be having the tattoo removed, or replaced.”

I was flabbergasted as I tried to understand the reasoning behind all of this when Stryder woke me up at 0550 hrs. I crawled out of bed and missed reveille, but TaLouse` gave it, so it was no big deal. When I went to breakfast, all I had was toast and a bacon sandwich, with 4 glasses of orange juice. The orange juice was really diluted. The guy from the 4/46th that I traded the joint for the Christmas trees yesterday came over to our table and sat down.

“Have you got any more of that shit that you gave me yesterday?” He asked.

“I have 2 one ounce lids at $25.00 each,” I told him.

At first he balked, but when I asked him how many hits got him stoned, he said he’d be right back. He slid 2 $20.00’s and a $10.00 over to me, and after breakfast, I got the grass out of my gym bag, and gave it to him by the R&U closet.

While we were gone last week, they hung a new luminous dial clock up in the bay, so we’ll be able to see what time it is all hours of the night. The guy from the 4/46th who was camped out on the lawn got back in the barracks while we were gone. After chow, I helped mop the hallway and then buffed it.

I had to get my license changed, so that I can drive a 1 1/4 ton truck. I took one for a spin and didn’t like how it handled. The steering was really tight, and it needed to be driven for a few thousand miles on the range to break it in. You needed weight lifters shoulders to turn it. I hope that I don’t get the same truck if I have to use one, or they’ll wear out my shoulder joints

I got a letter from Larry and Haboy.  Haboy’s going into the Marine’s, and his letter had a $1.00 bill in it. This morning I wrote a letter to home, one to Larry and one to Vin. I ran out of cigarettes last night and haven’t gone to the PX yet, so I’m smoking Bull Durham, home rolled today. They are really lousy.

I found a mistake on my short timer’s calender, so I actually have one more day that it says, so I had to change it in this book also. So far it’s a nice day out and should get up to 90 degrees. The BC is back from his leave and he told me that he wants me to paint the day room as soon as I can get the paint. I’ll have to requisition it, so I measured the square footage of the day room as well as the insulation on the air coolers, so I can take care of everything at the same time, at R&U supply.

They had liver for lunch today, which makes me gag, so I just ate the vegetables and dessert. After lunch, I was sitting in the barracks with Stryder and Smart listening to Solitary Man, by Neil Diamond on the record player, while Van Beuran tried to play the chords along on his guitar. I love that song. It evokes a melancholy emotion in me that feels good. It finally quit raining, and now it’s cloudy and warm out.

I sat in the mail room and wrote letters to Dan Ciamas and Bill Black. I worked with Dan at Detroit Pattern, and we hung out after work sometimes. We even went out on double dates together a couple of times. I fixed him up with my cousin Carla once. 

Bill Black is Jim’s brother, and he enlisted in the Navy right after he graduated from High School in 1964. They trained him in electronics and he was stationed in Puerto Rico until he developed severe allergies in the tropical heat. After that he got transferred to Great Lakes Naval base in Chicago. Bill is the opposite of his brother Jim, so he’s pretty level headed. We would hang out together sometimes. Once when he came home on leave we went to see John Lee Hooker at the “Chess Mate” coffee house over on Livernois.

When the mail came, I got the mouth bit that I ordered, to hang by my teeth with to exercise my face and neck. I could try it out at the gym tonight. We had classes this afternoon, as usual. Lt. Church gave the last class, on “riot control” and “policing protesters.”  The war protest movement was starting to require more and more troops to be deployed, as it grew in size. Although the National Guard was usually used, they were preparing for the worst case scenario.

I found out that one of the lead cooks, Harry Weeks, re-enlisted while we were on leave, so he could go to Thailand. He got a measly $800.00 VRB (Variable Re-enlistment Bonus), since Thailand is one of the most requested tours.  If you left it open to the Army’s choice you could get up to $8,000.00. Of course they’d probably send you to Nam. What an idiot or should I say super lifer. He is now RA by the 2nd definition (Real Asshole).

After classes, Larger and I skipped chow and went straight to the gym. I wanted to start back easy, and that way I could work with Larger. We began by doing 2 sets of 25 pushups. Then we started on the bench. I started him with a 25 lb. plate on each side, for 8 reps with 95 lbs. as a warmup.  Larger worked up to 145 lbs., for 8 reps, and I maxed out with 225 lbs., for 20 reps.

We stayed with the same program for squats, and then we did leg curls, leg extensions and calf raises. We switched back to upper body with 3 sets of bicept curls, forearm reverse curls and triceps extensions. Then we did some bent over barbell rows, bent arm pullovers and behind the neck pull ups. Around the time that we were getting ready to finish off our workout with same Abdominal work, the veteran’s came up.

“How was your week’s leave?”  Herman asked.

“It was great.” I answered. “It was a real trip, in more ways than one.”

They said that they’d be at the Spot latter, if I wanted to have a few beers with them, and I said that I’d try to drop by. Then we did some leg raises and roman chair sit ups. I pulled my new teeth hanging bit from out of my gym bag, jumped up and grabbed the chinning bar with my right hand and hooked the chain on the bar with my left hand. I asked Larger to time me, and let me know when a minute was up, if I made it that long. I inserted the leather piece into my mouth and clamped down on it with my teeth until I was confident that my bite was as good as my grip. Then I took my hand off the bar and hung with my mouth. The only thing that stopped me from being like Newton’s apple, were my teeth clamping down.

By this time the entire gym stopped and there were about 15 people standing around the chinning bar with their mouths hanging open, including the towel attendant. When Larger told me that a minute was up, I grabbed the bar with my hands, and took the weight off my mouth as my jaw released the bit. After I unchained the bit, I dropped to the floor and smiled.

“You are one crazy man,” Kincade said.

“I have a whole new concept of strength.” I told him. “It’s not how much you can bench press. It’s how many minutes you can hang by your teeth or how many pounds you can pick up off the floor with your mouth.”

When we got back to the barracks Larger, Farrer, Van Beuran and I went to the El Matador, for a Mexican meal and a few beers. We smoked a gold joint on the way there and Larger asked.  “Do you ever get stoned before you work out?” I told him that I tried it once, but wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not. Now that we have a supply of primo grass I may try it again.

After we ate, we went to the “Crystal Unicorn”, a head shop that just opened up in Lawton. Stryder and Smart know the owner and are managing it for him after they’re off duty.  They had posters, water pipes, cigarette papers, newspapers, like the “Berkeley Barb”, the “Fifth Estate” and the “L. A. Free Press” and multi-colored prism glasses. I bought some chocolate cigarette rolling papers.

Afterwards, we went over to the Spot, and the veterans were already there, so we sat at the table next to them. Tommy Moonblood sat down with us and said that he heard about our trip to the Hopi village.

“You should have seen the Jesus Freak commune.”  Farrer said.  “They were tripping without any drugs.”

“Yeah, but most of them used drugs to get to where they are at,” Tommy said.  “One day they’ll become conservatives and everyone will forget that it all started with drugs. Some will even deny it. All religions started with some kind of drug use, or other means of altering reality, way back in the ancient past, but they edited that all out of their scriptures.”

“Hindu scripture mentions Soma.”  Larger said.

“That’s because it’s the one that reaches farthest back to paganism.” Tommy said.  “Paganism and the nature religions were the first. They all used drugs. Then when they evolved into the modern religions, they dropped the drug thing, because they got too big, and mass hysteria works as good as drugs, and is more controllable. Heck, nobody cares about what happened before they were born, so in a hundred years you can say anything and nobody will question you.”

“I think that I’ll make an appointment with a chaplain. I want to talk to someone objectively about God, religion and some of my new insights,” I said.

Timmy and Elsie were the rhythm section playing tonight, and they had a white haired guy named Johnny playing electric guitar and singing with them, and he wailed like nobody’s business. Then Coatmire, Howard and Rublay came in and sat down with us.  Howard kept asking, in his usual comical way what time the dancing girls were coming on.

We didn’t head back to the base until around Midnight. The veterans paid for all the drinks. They said that this was my power lifting meet victory party, compliments of them.  They are a great bunch of guys. After I smoked my last Chesterfield King, I went to sleep at 0105 hrs.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=bob+gersztyn

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