True Stories

Random memories mesh together to create a character. This one happens to be real; a 26-year-old Israeli boy studying film in NYC. (As with anything, it's best to start at the beginning. Go to the archives...) Copyright 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006

True army stories

My draft date to the army was rescheduled. I heard the news of my earlier draft date in an official message I found on my answering machine on a Tuesday morning in early October, 1998. It was relayed to me in the bored, lifeless voice of a female soldier who informed me I was to be drafted the following Monday, and not in late November as I’d been instructed before. I played the message to my friend Gil, who said “Wow, you must be so depressed. I bet you’re going to cry all day.” I wasn’t depressed. I believed at the time that I was ready and willing to disappear. The idea excited me. I hadn’t spent a moment’s thought on where I was headed, only on what I’d be leaving behind.

One week later I was crouched down in the sand and the heat in front of a lonely payphone, a line of nerve-wracked soldiers behind me. I’d used my one phone call to reach Dekel, the most experienced soldier I knew. He had a seven month lead on me in the army. In my eyes he was a real live survivor of the hellish first months that I feared I would not survive myself. He could hear the cracks in my voice.

“Do you have something to write in?” He asked. “Do you have a pen and paper? It’s important, it’s really important, get yourself a little notepad and a pen, you hear?”

I got my hands on a notebook that had been ripped in half and managed to write a few words in it whenever we had some stolen seconds to ourselves. Over the course of a few days I wrote “The stress is starting to seep into people’s bones. We’re starting to get mad and snap at each other. One guy’s really stressed, he screams whenever someone blocks the one hanging light bulb in our tent. The shower was cold and disgusting. The wound in my leg hurts. Guard duty between three and four AM insures another sleepless night. At night duffel bags around the tent look like people bending over to get ready to leave. I’m washed over with the icy fear that they’ve forgotten to wake me. All the while I never really fall asleep. Then I sleep without dreaming, one bang and I’m-

My pen ran out of ink. I etched and scratched the pages of the half-notebook until I gave up. I stuffed it into my uniform’s pocket and held onto it until finally I brought home to my drawer.

This might be the only true army story I have ever told. Other than referring to my military service as hell every once in a while, those scribbled lines are the only miserable piece of prose I’ve ever written about the army. Every other army story I tell, whether it’s silly, romantic, frustrating or infuriating, is always funny. I think that little ripped notebook is the reason why army stories have to be funny.

You should always have something to write in.

5 Comments:

  • At 5:15 PM, Blogger Bobby A. said…

    Dear Yaron,

    Mrsjonesbible was actually a bloating bag of ramblings I've been writing for a few months as an exercise of being hideously honest. The blog was not meant to be accessible on Blogger.com; I created it because I'd like to keep those thoughts and in case my computer crashed (again!) I would still have had the entries online. A few minutes after I created the blog, though, I deleted it because I was afraid someone would come across it, and it was terribly personal. Either way-- it's a funny chance that you came across it in the few minutes of its existence. I'm finding my way through your blog. It's lovely. It's honest. Thank you, you kind man.

    Bobby

     
  • At 7:22 AM, Blogger sowmya said…

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