Friday, August 03, 2012

Another Completely Arbitrary Test of My Manhood

The Long Hot American Summer continues. As I said, the SERE class – survive, escape, resist, and evade – was postponed because not enough students pre-registered. The only other class available during a free week this summer for me was called Tactical Scout, which in addition to instruction in woodland sneaking and camouflage teaches the basic of small unit maneuvering and how to lay and evade an ambush. (We used airsoft weapons for this – like plastic bb guns, but kind of extremely sophisticated full-auto ones.)

Now such pseudo-military, pseudo-violent conflict stuff is obviously pretty patently silly; if you’re really interested in such shit, you should probably just go ahead and join the military instead of futzing around with plastic bb guns. Plenty of conflicts to take part in, world-wide.

Of course, I’m much too old for that.

Nonetheless, ya gots ta do sumfin, ain’t ya? And I’d already paid for the SERE, and I’m not sure where I’ll be when the next SERE rolls around, so I went ahead and took the Scout course.

It was insanely fucking hot – 100 plus degrees every day, more than 50 percent humidity, in hundreds of acres of the absolute worst kind of miserable American South wilderness – thick underbrush full of thorn bushes and stinging nettle, poison ivy, sharp rocks and an abundance of mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers. Without so much as a camp shower in site.

Sound like fun? Okay, and then imagine crawling through that shit wearing heavy camo coats, long-sleeve shirts, and pants and boots. And being shot at with plastic BBs.

Even one of the instructors – a former military sniper -- dropped out after the first day for “personal reasons.” Several of the students, who’d been in Iraq, said the low humidity of desert heat made that kind of heat much more pleasant than sweaty Southern heat, and I’d definitely concur.

The second instructor, a guy about my age who’d been an Army Ranger for 20 years, impressed me a great deal with both his friendly, good-natured clear-eyed military bearing and his excellent communication and teaching skills; he clearly explained things, asked questions to make sure we understood, offered feedback on our physical practice, and then asked more questions about what we’d learned.

(Someone pointed out to me that military officers need good communication skills, especially concept checking, because a great number of the people they’re communicating with are not especially bright. That’s certainly a feeling I know.)


The students were a mixed bag – a couple of young would-be hipster mountain men; a couple of older bush hippie types; some shy ex-military farm boys; and a middle-aged female veterinarian who slept with a handgun in a chest holster.

I didn’t hear many particularly extremist, right-wing, or racist views expressed – mostly people talked about gear, like backpacks and knives and stuff, and a fair bit about deer hunting and primitive living stuff like building long bows. (However, the female vet made a rather crude anti-Obama comment at one point, which went unremarked upon and which I won't repeat.)


I did okay; at least I didn’t disgrace myself and I completed all the activities without collapsing from heat stroke. I’d say I learned a fair bit, too. If I’m going to be sneaking up on your command post any time soon, you best be wary.

The airsoft fighting, though, just showed me that in a case where a bunch of people are shooting at each other, usually a bunch of people get shot on both sides.

So, I’m one step closer to being ready for The End of the World. Hooray for me.

Then, leaving from my brother’s house the next day, I backed into a car parked into the street, which will cost me at the very least $500 for the insurance deductible.
Rest of my life is falling to gory pieces, too – more on that soon.

RE: Vodkaberg -- it's still cooking. All I can say is that the more time it takes me to get it finally ready, the better it will be.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm; so I guess these combat skills don't translate into Mad Max-style driving competency?
There's the rub: you're going to be all ghetto-urban-assault adroit and then get run down in the street by an 80 year old woman.
I guess no matter how multi-proficient we become, there's always that damn unrelated incompetence that's going to bring us down in the end.

English Teacher X said...

Yes, I suppose a defensive diving course ought to be next, logically.

Tim said...

Have all those years of teaching English taken away your driving skills? I imagine you haven't done too much driving the last decade or so, between Russia and the Middle East...

English Teacher X said...

yeah, practically none. I drive a car when I'm in America, which has usually been two or three weeks every year, but that's all.

Anonymous said...

next time just pay for a more pleasant course.

unless part of the course was how to evade chiggers then what is the point of having you hang out with them?

seems to me that part is just for 'the 'nam movie experience'.