COMBAT EXISTENTIALISM 101 |
October 16, 2006
COMBAT EXISTENTIALISM 101
Name: SGT "Roy Batty"
Posting date: 10/16/2006
Stationed in: Baghdad, Iraq
Hometown: Yellow Springs, Ohio
This is your midterm exam for Combat Existentialism 101. Please ensure that you use a Number 2 pencil to answer all questions. Completely color in all answer bubbles; do not check or tick the answers. Please answer all 'Other' questions using ten words or less. Reaction time is a factor in this test, so please pay attention and answer as quickly as you can. You may begin.........now.
1. It is the morning of the day on which you will die. For breakfast, you:
(a) have a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and coffee that your wife cooked for you in the kitchen of your Victorian townhouse.
(b) enjoy eggs benedict on a rice cake with a side helping of tofu granola and wheatgrass, and a steaming mug of soy latte double decaf.
(c) smoke five Camel Light cigarettes and chug a lukewarm can of 'Columbian taste' coffee that was really made in a factory in Saudi Arabia.
(d) Noon is too late for breakfast.
2. It is the morning of the day on which you will die. After breakfast, you:
(a) decide that you are going to have a good day.
(b) decide that, once again, you are going to have a shitty day and vow to make the little bastards at the office / in the classroom / upstairs pay accordingly.
(c) take your usual choice of antidepressant and hope for the best.
(d) Other (explain)_____________________________________
3. It is the morning of the day on which you will die. You are deciding on what to wear for the occasion. You:
(a) put on your best suit and tie, and pick a really nice boutonniere from your rose garden in the backyard.
(b) remember that today is casual day at the cubicle farm.
(c) put on the same tan and gray digitized uniform you've worn for a week, accented with 240 rounds of 5.56mm ball ammo and three 40mm grenades.
(d) The ashram has only one kind of robe.
4. It is the morning of the day on which you will die. You spend the day:
(a) at the park with your children, making sure they know how much you care about them.
(b) making passionate love with your significant other.
(c) blowing the $2345.75 in your checking account on beer and hookers.
(d) briefly looking at an old Polaroid of the wife you haven't seen in four months, before you go cruising through an Arab neighborhood filled with raw sewage and foreign people that would like nothing else than to gleefully chop your head off.
Okay, I could go on with this for some time, but I think that will do. Just something strange that popped into my head on patrol yesterday, inspired, I think, by a Harlan Ellison short story and a John D. MacDonald book which I read years ago when I was a kid. Not sure why they are reappearing in the cramped interior of a HMMWV in Baghdad, but they did. I think the message they were trying to get across is this: What would you do differently if you knew that you were going to die today? Really knew it?
In the 'normal' world, we may wonder about death every so often, usually after watching a disturbing movie, or maybe after we see an obituary of someone we once knew in the paper. But unless you are grappling with a serious illness, or wondering what that semi is doing crossing into your rain-soaked lane at 4 a.m., or have decided that skydiving this weekend might be a great way to "bond" with your new girlfriend, it probably doesn't seem like a real possibility to you.
It struck me a couple times recently, waking up in the afternoon of Day 4 of the midnight patrol schedule, and looking at the bleary world with the uber-clarity of the terminally sleep deprived -- what if this really is the last day I'm here? Would I talk to the guy behind the counter of the store where I buy my morning coffee the same way, if I knew I would die in 4.5 hours? Would I choose to spend the last few hours on Earth 'reading the articles' in a dog-eared Playboy in the stifling and odoriferous comfort of a porta-john, or yelling at a co-worker because his TPS report is late (again), or haranguing my daughter over the phone on the crucial and therefore expensive details of raising her children? Yeah, I know, we've all heard this crap before, and probably better enunciated than this, but it has been a bit of a revelation for me when thinking and feeling it in real terms.