I promised this to my Spanish friend on WP, CharlyPriest. http://charlypriest.wordpress.com/
I hope you like it.
Still crazy after all these years.
Double Edged Sword: Jack Daniels, King Cobra(not the beer), and an Outside Shower @ Vietnam
As most of you know, I’m near the top 1% of senior citizens here on WP and Tumblr and maybe even Twitter. I was talking to a friend from Spain who suggested that I share some old “life and war stories” from my “checkered past.” Between raising Twin Nieces and Nephew, 4 Grands (2 sets of brother/sister twins) and enjoying Nature nestled up in the hills of Tennessee (boonies, take a left at Lost in the woods, find a dead end street and when you see the gate across the road, dial 3-668-746-6863 to arrive alive). Or at the sound of Rottweilers, just sit in your car, place it in park and wait for a 25% scaled Jeep, it’ll be driven by my Nieces, and the old guy that looks like Grizzly Adams will be Grandpa George. Don’t forget to bring your insurance card, you just never know what happens back this far from civilization.
Years ago and many miles away, I found myself on an international all expenses paid tour sponsored by the US government, Department of Defense, United States Navy as a member of the United States Marine Corps (not corpse as a certain politician often pronounces it) (it is pronounced as core, as in apple core, for the unknowingly non military folks out here). My job was to crawl, walk, run and sometimes dive into less than perfect ground conditions (mud, creeks, rivers, swamps and the like) and still stay alive. Avoiding multiple dangerous species of wildlife (living in water and on dry land and up in trees), poisonous plants, bothersome insects was the daily challenge. Some unhappy people, like the Vietcong who saw me and my olleagues as invaders, trespassers often decided to make us targets for their wide range of conventional and homemade weapons and explosive devices.
In my first month in country, I was still a novice Marine, I wasn’t the one to walk away from a dare or wager that might cause anyone to doubt my dedication to the Corps or my 19 year old manhood or bravery (I learned quickly the real meaning of Jarhead). I discovered Jack Daniels at a remarkably cheap price, maybe 5% over cost and tax-free, at the local base watering hole. It was so smooth and needed nothing but ice or water to make it the perfect “calm me down after a scary few days of “search, engage and hopefully come back in one piece” patrolling.
Older and experienced Marines or OldTimers in any military branch were always waiting to let you prove yourself in a multitude of “I really should have known better” contests, wagers, and dares on the ignorant and willing “newbies.” Sometimes, with the exception of actual combat, I look back and reflect on those people and realize the OldTimers were the second most dangerous wildlife species on our military post. Number one for me would always be a King, or any other species of Cobra.
One night, my unit, well most of us, had survived a nasty run-in with a VC unit and were ever so glad to be “Home” and given 2 days to unwind. One of the OldTimers was at the end of his last tour before returning stateside for Retirement. Party time was the order of business, as well as someone being selected to accompany him back to main base operations to bring back supplies. The Old Guard decided the Winner of their latest “challenge” would be the Lucky one.
Cheap and abundant liquor, young rookies full of testosterone, and judgments impaired by competition in a warzone located in a foreign jungle, what could possibly go wrong????????????????????????
The contest would actually be very simple, each of us would put $10 into a hat, which would cover the price of the liquor and the remaining monies would be given to the last man standing (should’ve been named last man with surviving brain cells). Not only would someone be the Winner and “lucky man,” but also possibly win a nice bit of change. Fifths of Jim Beam would be set in front of each contender (10 of us were “enticed and encouraged”), at Gunnie’s beginning to sing the Marine Hymn, we would uncap and commence to drink the entire bottle without taking the bottle from our lips or taking a breath. If you didn’t complete both requirements, you were disqualified and “out.”
To be totally honest, after the first bottle, and until I awoke the next morning, the middle part is gone forever. Skip to early the next morning, about 5:30am. I was aroused from my worst hangover ever and the first ever in the corner of an outside shower stall which was also next to an outside latrine (men’s “room”). If that wasn’t bad enough, I was totally naked, and with multiple cuts from an apparent broken glass bottle of Jack Daniels #7 whiskey. Then while trying to assess my injuries, my eyes caught a blurry bloody image of something, and suddenly I was fully awake and began to scream for medical assistance. Of course, it probably resembled the squealing of some school teacher that had just seen her first scorpion up close and very personal.
Corpsman (medic) arrived quickly, he was 2 stalls over, with towel wrapped around his midsection, and promptly pronounced the snake dead on arrival, apparently it died from brunt force trauma or alcohol poisoning itself. None of the cuts on my feet appeared to come from snake bit, but because of the amount of alcohol in my system, he wasn’t sure if I killed the Cobra with the bottle or it died from biting me multiple times on my feet. At that time I didn’t appreciate his humore, not one little bit.
Later in the day after a little rest and recovery, I still had questions that will probably never be answered. But I learned a few valuable lessons that day: 1) if the winner of a contest is the last man standing, it’s probably a really stupid and/or dangerous undertaking, 2) never take a bottle of JD#7 into an outside shower stall unless you’re willing to defend your life with it, 3) if a King Cobra likes Jack Daniels, just pour him a glass and don’t spill it, remember alcohol abuse, and 4) never drink Jim Beam again without mixing it, it might make you forget the best details of an old war story.
King Cobras don’t share, beware.