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Entry date: 5-7-2022 - Tick, Tick, Tick... - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


I hadn’t thought of Dick’s Drive In for a long time. It was over near the Sun Club, south of Apache by a block or two, on Rural. We would go there in the summer of 1987 and hang out, look for people we knew, or wanted to meet. That’s where I met Suzi. I think I spelled her name with a “y” before this and it just didn’t seem right.


I was not expecting to get into a serious relationship prior to leaving for basic training. In fact, I was trying to avoid it. As I mentioned, I had been dating a very nice girl named Cheryl who I worked at Marshall’s with and when we started seeing each other, I was very up front with her that I was leaving, and we had to keep it somewhat mellow. Looking back, it was probably the closest thing I had in my life, up to that point, to a healthy dating relationship.


But there was Suzi, one July night, at Dick’s and I was smitten. She was a spark plug, that’s for sure. Big brown eyes, hair, and, well, she was well put together. She was always game for a good time, and we certainly made the most of my last six weeks or so of my pre-Army life. It also complicated my life. I ended things with Cheryl amicably and got pretty hooked, pretty fast on my new gal.


I’ve already talked about the big trip Michael and I took to Mexico on Labor Day weekend of 1987, so I’m not going to go back into that here. If you want to check that out, I posted blogs about camping trips I took back in March. When it came time to leave, I had a nice little send off. I went around and saw some of my closest friends and said goodbye. In the end, it was just Michael, Mark, and my friend, Lori, who hung out with me the night before. I have some wonderful pictures of that night.


I thought I was ready to go to bed and try to get a little sleep and then Suzi showed up for one last goodbye. As I was telling her goodbye, I saw Cheryl’s car pull into the apartment complex where my mom lived. That was pretty awkward, but no one got beaten up or killed. I finally went in and got some sleep.


I left at the crack of dawn on September 15, which was a Tuesday morning. Before the recruiter got there to pick me up, my mom cut off my mohawk. I didn’t think it was a good idea to show up to Fort Benning with a mohawk and I was right. That would have been hell. I would probably have been called “Sid Vicious” for the first week if I had. One poor sap showed up with really long hair and he got called “Jesus” in not the nicest way. Very unchristian, if you ask me.


Anyway, I got down to the MEPS building and got officially sworn into the US Army. I was in the waiting area with other new recruits with my duffle bag. I was wearing my dad’s old blue flannel, a tan 1984 JFA tour shirt, a pair of black Smith pants and some black high-top converse. While I was there, they called me up to the desk and said I was not going to Fort Benning that day. They needed to run some tests.


As I may have mentioned in other blogs, I have terrible eyesight. I have a significant astigmatism and there were some concerns about his from my physical. I had to go to an eye specialist and go through some extensive tests. They didn’t think I would have time to get to my plane and get the tests done, so I was rescheduled to depart on the next day.


At that point in my life, it was the most thorough eye exam I have ever been through. It was discovered that I have some slight color blindness, too, which seemed so weird to me. The testing process did, indeed, talk longer than was necessary to still get me on a plane to Atlanta that day, so I was released and told to come back the next morning.


I didn’t know what to do with my bonus day in Phoenix, so I made my way to Camelback High School to play a little joke on my friends. When I got there, I told people I had already been kicked out. No one seemed surprised. Cheryl was very happy to see me, and we decided to hang out a bit later. I couldn’t stomach another of Suzi’s very dramatic goodbyes, so I went the safer route.


I went to Easy Street and told my mom what had happened and there were some tears and such. My mom can be very dramatic, too, but in a much better way. We had a nice dinner, Cheryl came over for a while, and the next morning, mom dropped me off at the MEPS building at 7am. By 10 or so, I was on a plane for Dallas, then I was off to Atlanta to meet the bus to Columbus, Georgia and Fort Benning.


It was a full day of travel. By the time I got on the bus, it was dark, and I couldn’t see much of the countryside at all as I left Atlanta. I had never been there, so I really wanted to see what it looked like there. It was around 11 on the east coast by the time we got there, but we were ushered into a big room that looked just like the room in Stripes and given a very similar speech.


It was all very predictable and, if you just kept your mouth shut and only spoke when you were ordered to do so, you would do just fine. It was obvious right away that the Army was not filled with many people who spent a lot of time thinking.


See you tomorrow.



Spring of 1987 in Easy Street. Not sure who took this picture. Tony, Ben, Me.


https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7ceC5pYc76GcDMU9srlIQ5?si=ed34379512504225

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