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

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The true story of my soldier's sister (part 1)

Before and after my soldier’s sister, whenever I first heard of a girl I had not yet met, whenever a feminine name was put afloat in my life by way of stories or ideas or her presumed existence on the other side of an overheard phone conversation, my romantically ill mind could not resist rushing together fantasies about her fast approaching entrance into my life.

Because it was always an entrance; any girl I ever knew had had her entrance. Men materialized in my life after the fact, some stuck, some didn’t, no one really knew where the other came from, but women, they slowed down time and hastened my heartbeat on first appearance as they glowed with possibility. And none glowed brighter than the ones who had previously existed just outside of my frame line, on the periphery of my world, at a point where our eventual meeting was inevitable.

That is, with the exception of my soldier’s sister, who never glowed and never formed into a fantasy before I met her, even though her name hung in the air for years. For months it was not even her name that was thrown about, we had no way of knowing her name as long as her older brother guarded it with his life, and so she was known as my soldier’s sister.

For the majority of my military service I was coerced into acting as a mock commander of three soldiers: a deaf volunteer, a bitter girl and, finally, my soldier. He was my soldier because he wanted to be my soldier, because he sought out a commander in me. We were friends as well, good friends, army friends who ate shit together and could not stop laughing about it ever since because it still hurt so bad, but back then, every time I nearly blissfully forgot that I was his commander, my soldier made sure to remind me that I was in charge.

The other two never took me seriously, probably since I never took myself seriously. I’d never wanted to be a commander. The thought scared me and made me hate myself. My soldier made me his commander because my soldier needed to be my soldier, he couldn’t handle the chaos of the army without being able to assure himself that I, as his commander, would always be around to bear the brunt of those high up above. I was there to tell him what to do, make every decision for him and create a human buffer between him and any officers.

When he arrived at my unit, fresh out of the scarring fascism of basic training, he treated my rank, sergeant, with grave seriousness. He stepped into my office and timidly introduced himself as I toiled away sweating stress over a highly classified computer that I wanted as far away from me as possible. I asked him to wait around, and twenty minutes later my army buddy Daniel, a devilish character with stories of his own for other times, leaned over and informed me with a grin that my soldier was standing at attention in the corner of the room. I couldn’t believe it. No one had ever stood at attention on my behalf.

From that first day on I couldn’t help myself; I had to play practical jokes on my soldier. He was just too serious, too earnest, too fearful. He needed to be shaken up. Some pranks were more elaborate than others, a few succeeded in scaring tears and whimpers out of him before they were over and we were all laughing, but most were not even practical jokes, they were just jokes; simple, childish, fun-poking “boys-will-be-boys” jokes. The day to day despair of being caged in an army base evoked a kindergarten mentality in the best of us. Our favorite joke was my soldier’s sister, simply because it obviously bugged him so much.

Daniel and I had gleaned knowledge of her existence through overheard phone conversations my soldier had had with her. We knew nothing more about her other than her age; she was seventeen years old. That, and my soldier’s instant tomato-face anger, was all it took to turn his sister into an imaginary presence in our military life. Daniel and I would casually ask each other questions like “Whose turn is it with his sister tonight? Is it my turn?”
“I think it’s my turn.”
“Want to go at her together?”
“Yeah, but I want the back.”
“That’s cool, I feel like the front.”
Other times we’d play out fake phone calls with her in her brother’s presence, or compare false sex tales concerning her within his earshot. If my soldier had ignored us, even once, we would have stopped, but he gave us the gratification of cursing and swearing and promising the worst and threatening with a fist fight (but never making good on the threat) every single time.

My soldier’s appearance gave no reason to assume that his younger sister was beautiful. He was a stout, bear-like fellow who had started balding at eighteen but lacked no hair on the rest of his rug body. I never saw her once during the time we served together on the base, and never even paused for a moment to try and imagine what this imaginary presence was actually like.

As it turned out, she was breathtakingly gorgeous. She had her entrance into my life a couple of weeks after my discharge. After years of jokingly sexualizing her, I took one glance at her and knew I had to have her.

And I almost did.


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