Wednesday, September 5, 2012

7/3-7/12 - The Gate is Straight, Deep, and Wide - pt. 1

Well, son. As skull!@#$ings go, that was just about the best one I've ever had.

No, son, a skull!@#$ing is probably not what you think it is, for which I can be eternally !@#$ing grateful. There are no new holes in my noggin, no !@#$ on my brains, and no whiplash, either.

Skull!@#$ing is just a simple little ritual that America's armed forces came up with to better deal with the severe stress that comes from less-than-satisfactory contact with the enemy. Put simply, it's the mother of all alcohol binges, to be performed by a soldier when that person has endured something so !@#$ terrible, horrible, and !@#$ing demoralizing that the only reason he hasn't blown his brains out, committed suicide by enemy combatant, or  tossed his bars into a fire and gone AWOL is because he still !@#$ing wants to believe.

And hopefully, by the time it's over, that soldier will not only have drunk himself sober, but rekindled his belief, to the point where he can crawl upright, clean himself up, and get back to work.

A long !@#$ing time ago, back when things went seriously south in Korea, no less than General MacArthur, himself, introduced me to this ritual. After my time as a POW I'd fallen down to the raging, ragged edge of the !@#$ing abyss, and wanted to throw myself into it. So he had a few of his boys drive my gelatinous, miserable !@#$ to one of the best makkoli houses in Pusan, and something like five or six large and pungent bowls of warm rice wine later, I was a new man.

Makkoli is the best !@#$ to get hammered with. It's sneaky. You don't realize how much trouble you're in until you try to stand up, and then you realize why they gave you scallion pancakes along with the booze. Me, I made it through a whole bowl and a half before I had to take a slash, and then I was !@#$ing stumbling into the head, breaking !@#$ as I went -- mostly by accident.

(That building still stands in Pusan. They have a three bowl limit for wayguk, now. I'm the reason for that.)

But, unfortunately, I did not have any makkoli, here with me today. All I had was that nasty, tooth-rotting, radioactive kumis that Altan Aduu ferments, himself. So I took every single bottle they had, and then took it out into the deserts north of Choibalsan, bottles clinking in the bag as I dragged it out far enough for them to not see the fire I was going to build.

And, in true skull!@#$ing fashion, I drank about three bottles of that !@#$ on the way to that place, so I was already good and hammered before I even arrived.

(This is also a part of the skull!@#$ing ritual: start before you get there, so that you'll be on a !@#$ing roll when you arrive.)

But man, son, I really was !@#$ing hammered. I didn't realize that I'd made a fire until I was actually sitting in front of it, opening up another bottle of that radioactive !@#$ and gulping it down like it was water. I didn't realize that day had turned into night until I saw that I'd gone through about half of what I'd brought out with me to drink.

And when I howled in despair that I might not have enough to last until morning, I looked at my watch twice to see how much I had to pace myself, and it was two whole hours between checks, even though it seemed like it had only been a minute!

Time does strange things when you're angry, sad, dehydrated, and massively drunk, son. Especially out in the deserts. Things happen out on the peripheries of civilization, sometimes, and it's like it's all reality can do to just keep itself on this side of unglued.

It's like that old question about the tree falling in the forest -- if no one's there to see it, is there a sound? Well, if no one's around to say "hey, that's !@#$ed up," are there laws of physics?

If not, that goes a long way in explaining how yours truly, who can see way too much for his own !@#$ good, did not see the Shaman walk up to my fire and plop his !@#$ down.

One minute, there's just me and a fire. I take a drink, and the next time I look up, there's this grizzled, red-toothed fellow with spaced-out eyes and a yellow hat. He's grinning at me with those red, stained teeth and chuckling, and in the amount of time it takes me to threaten to kill him for messing with my skull!@#$ing, there's two more of them.

Yes, shamans. Mongolia's still got a !@#$ing lot of them around, even in this day and age. Most of them are pretty decent guys, even if I'm not convinced about their power levels. But someone's got to be the one to talk for the dead, and over here that's them.

So they're !@#$ing jabbering and talking and laughing, and passing a bottle of kumis I don't remember offering them, and I'm telling them to go the !@#$ away and just let me get hammered in peace. But when I say "peace" I think "piece," and then I think "pieces." And then I realize I really am nothing more than a man-shaped pile of glass shards, and the crying jag part of the skull!@#$ing sets in.

This is also perfectly !@#$ing normal. Before you can put yourself back together you have to completely fall apart. That's what the booze is for. It takes away all your inhibitions and shackles, and tears your structures down to the ground.

It makes you forget you're supposed to be some butch, disciplined soldier, and lets you let go and cry your eyes out like your momma just died all over again.

And while I'm crying, the Shamen are jabbering at me, and whatever kind of Mongolian they're talking I can hardly get every other !@#$ing word. But eventually I realize they're asking me if I want to talk to anyone.

Who the !@#$ would I want to talk to? Who the !@#$ would want to talk to me, right now? I'm a nasty stain on the floor. I'm a dog turd in a punchbowl. I'm lower than worm !@#$.

But oh, they have people who want to talk to me. And, one by one, they bring forward the dead to speak. 

All my ghosts, come 'round to haunt me at last. 

(SPYGOD is listening to Break On Through to the Other Side (The Doors) and having something really !@#$ nasty)

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