Saturday, June 03, 2006

Recognition

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So I'm at the mall last week. I'm there to trade some games to feed my Playstation habit.

And there they are. Recruiters. Marines.

A staff sergeant and a corporal, both dressed in fatigues. In saner times they would be tricked out in their dress blues with nice, shiny ribbons. We're at war now so fatigues are the order of the day.

They had exited a store about twenty feet ahead of me and on the opposite side of the mall so I had a good view of them as they strolled along. The mall at mid-day was not very busy but there were quite a few teenagers around, and if looks could kill there would be two folded flags for these Marines. As they passed groups of kids the glares weren't disguised, they were openly hostile. I have never seen anything like it. It's been my experience that recruiters inspire in most teenagers a kind of weary skepticism, not this undisguised loathing.

As we continued, they crossed the mall and were now walking on the same side. Then as they pass a boy of about sixteen, one of them, the young corporal reaches out, I swear this is true, and grabs the boy by the arm and stops him. The kid smiles and the recruiter is obviously joking with him in some way so it takes some of the sinister aspect from it, but still...

So as the one recruiter talks to his captive audience, the sergeant, in a move as old as the oldest militaries, positions himself with his back to the two of them and quickly scans up and down the mall.

Been home long? I think to myself.

He spots me as the nearest possible threat and sizes me up. Obviously I am not of recruitable material. The age, the hair, the earrings, and the t-shirt stating "Medicated for your protection" disqualify me for useful conversation.

But then his eyes locked with mine. I'm not sure what expression was on my face. I know I felt a thrill of hate when I first spotted these professional liars, and I assume there was still an unfriendly set to my features.

I walked by. He glared at me, I glared right back. There was a kind of recognition there.

We each recognized the other for what he was.

The enemy.

I've thought a lot about that recruiter. How his eyes never stopped moving while he positioned himself facing outboard so as to spot potential enemies. How there was kind of mutual understanding in our shared moment. How I still get a cold feeling when I think of his combat readiness in a nice, safe mall. But most of all I think about how that young corporal didn't have have that particular watchful look.

Yet.

4 Comments:

Blogger Again said...

I've thought a lot about that recruiter. How his eyes never stopped moving while he positioned himself facing outboard so as to spot potential enemies.

what a poor guy!

He has to pay the price for George W. Bush - he is the "buffer" around the rich alpha male allowed to make wrong decisions and protected against the consequences by people like that recruiter

you see? He lost his home, his past, his soul, he even lost his precious America, for whom he decided to sacrifice his own life! He lost it by doing wrong things, by using violence "to solve problems" - now everybody in "his" America might be an enemy like any towelhead

where to go for him to rest, to sleep without fear, to sing and laugh without drugs and alcohol? Can he dare to visit a baseball game, can he dare to cheer his favorites without permanently watching the bystanders, without shock and awe at every loud noise?

can he DARE to love his own children when he knows how HE cares about children of "the enemy"?

If civilization has an opposite, it is war. Of those two things, you have either one, or the other. Not both. - Ursula K. Le Guin ("The Left Hand of Darkness")

Mon Jun 05, 07:07:00 AM  
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