Category Archives: Back In Vietnam

Three BB King CDs & A Whole Lotta Spaghetti

My dad turned 62 years old today. To celebrate, I took him out for a nice Italian dinner at Garozzo’s in Kansas City. His way of saying thanks? “If I’m ever diagnosed with a rare strand of syphilis that I picked up in Vietnam and they quarantine me to a desert island, all I want are three BB King CDs and a whole lot of spaghetti and meatballs.”

Needless to say, TOM was pretty happy.

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The Most Offensive Thing My Dad Has Ever Said To Me

WARNING: This will probably offend you. Just know that my dad means well and often doesn’t think before he speaks to his “rich, beautiful, young daughter.” (His words, not mine.) To be fair, I rarely think before I speak, either.

I went over to my dad’s house yesterday to eat fried tacos and watch Full Metal Jacket — that 1987 Stanley Kubrick war movie. TOM says this is the best representation of boot camp that he’s ever seen, meaning, boot camp in the 1960s. He says boot camp today is a lot different. He also says that his boot camp was even worse than the one in Full Metal Jacket (remember when this happened?)

My dad was kind enough to answer all my questions, like why the drill sergeants are so mean. His response makes perfect sense — that you come in as individuals, but you leave as one unit. They break you down so that everything you know and think is gone, and then they build you up as a whole so you can leave a strong fighting machine. TOM says that boot camp was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to endure, and he often draws on his experience there when getting through tough times.

While watching war movies, my dad gets pretty into them and often forgets that I am his daughter. He uses dirty language (far more than usual), and I guess he regresses back to the potty-mouthed man he was in 1969. Last night, when dinner was ready and the movie was paused, my dad yelled at me from the kitchen, “Come in here and get your dinner before I drag you in here by your f*ck hole and make you eat it!” Wide-eyed, mouth agape, I was stunned. My dad ran into the living room, “Oh my God, Tina, I am so sorry! I can’t believe I just said that to you! I just get into these movies…” He clearly felt bad. I was still in shock. Then we both started laughing. Yea, that’s my pop.

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Filed under Back In Vietnam, My Dad Is Nuts

My Dad Discovers The Wonders Of YouTube

I was chatting with my dad the other day, and as it often does, the conversation quickly turned south. As in the Ol’ Dirty South.

Dad: So, did I tell you I really like my new iPad?
Me: Yes. I’m glad you like it.
Dad: Oh! I didn’t tell you. I was looking at YouTube the other day. And I found animal sex!
Me: Why were you looking up animal sex?!
Dad: I wasn’t looking it up! You know how when you watch a video, it suggests more similar videos for you to watch? Well, I kept clicking and watching a bunch of stuff until eventually I found these dirty videos!
Me: Gross. Continue reading

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Filed under Awkward Situations, Back In Vietnam, Drugs, Guns & Motorcycles, My Dad Is Nuts, My Dad's Favorite Hobby

Happy Veterans Day, Dad

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted my dad to tell me about his experience in Vietnam. Everything seems to go back to that year — who he was, who he is, what the USMC bulldog on his right forearm really stands for. Whenever I would ask him to tell me about it, he would only reply, “I don’t want you to be ashamed of me. Of what I saw. Of the things I had to do.” If you know me, you know that I love to ask questions and long to know everything about anything. Especially in relation to my mother, whom I barely remember, and my father, who is just really fucking weird and awesome. Obviously.

Yesterday, the ol’ man informed me, “Today is the Marine Corps birthday. Did you get me a present? And Applebee’s lets veterans eat free on Friday, so you need to take me to dinner.” I did not get him a present, but I cooked him dinner last night and baked him a cake with little toy soldiers doing dirty things in the chocolate frosting (because this is my pop we’re talking about). We watched Vietnam in HD on the History Channel, and he finally opened up, if only a little. And I started to truly get what makes the ol’ man tick. I will never fully understand, because I wasn’t there. But it makes sense. The man he was. And the man he is.

Dad: That’s Da Nang Airbase in 1965. That’s where I flew into Vietnam in 1969.
Me: Is that how you remember it?
Dad: No. In 1969, it was the busiest airbase in the world, with more takeoffs and landings than any airport.
Me: Busier than New York?
Dad: The busiest in the WORLD. It’d make New York look like a titty.
Me: That doesn’t make sense to me.
Dad: Like a little titty?
Me: Yea, I don’t get it.

A member of the U.S. Marine Corps at 19 years old, my dad was stationed just south of Da Nang in October 1969 and returned in September 1970 a heroin addict with anger issues. During those 11 months, my dad saw and did things that no human should. It’s the stuff of war movies, only the blood is not fake, and the injured soldiers are your friends. I will not get into the details of what was said, but I will say this — I am not ashamed. I am only proud that my father, my hero, did what he had to do for our country. It isn’t fair that we sent our own teenage boys (boys who couldn’t even legally drink) to battle  Viet Cong communists, only to have our soldiers return to be spat upon. “It’s fucked up,” my dad says. And I agree.

Dad: I returned home from Vietnam in September of 1970. I got to the airport at 4am. No one would look at me, no one would sit next to me. I called my parents, ‘I’m home. Can you come pick me up from the airport?’ My mom said, ‘Why didn’t you call us last night?’ ‘I wanted to surprise you.’ ‘Well, we’ll come pick you up after your father has breakfast.’ I had to take a cab home.
Me (tears in my eyes): I hate that. I would have picked you up immediately. And I would have brought you a Starbucks.

My father would do anything for me. ANYTHING. I  have never longed for hugs, kisses, praise and love. I may not have a mother, but I am so fortunate to have one amazing, phenomenal father. Despite his incessant farts,  affinity for expired foods and obsession with bad Tupperware.

Happy Veterans Day, Dad. Thank you for all you have done and for all you do. I am so blessed to have you in my life, and I don’t regret moving home a single bit. I will see you at Applebee’s tonight. xox -The Girl Child

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Filed under Back In Vietnam, My Dad Is Awesome

The Giant Rubber Shoe Debate

My dad suffers from neuropathy of the feet. He compares this to the tingling sensation that occurs when your foot falls asleep. I think that must suck. From what I understand, there is no cure for this condition, which according to my dad, could be caused by any number of things — diabetes (he hasn’t been diagnosed), Agent Orange (Vietnam stuff) or stress (my moving home). Needless to say, my dad has been on the hunt for a pair of shoes that are comfortable. Today, he bought a pair.

*knocks on bedroom door*

Me: COME IN!

My dad bursts into my room as per usual. He sits on the bed and makes himself comfortable.

Dad: You didn’t say anything about my new shoes!
Me: Yea. They’re Crocs.
Dad: I know! Do you like ’em?
Me: Not really. Dad, Crocs aren’t really very cool. They resemble rubber clown shoes.
Dad (with a genuine look of concern and shock on his face): WHAT?! WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME??
Me: I don’t know! You didn’t ask!

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Filed under Back In Vietnam, Old People Problems

Boot Camp Lessons In Suicide

Most conversations somehow go back to Vietnam. I don’t know how we got on the morbid subject of suicide, but we did.

Dad: Tina, there’s a right way and a wrong way to slit your wrists. Back in boot camp…
Me: I know. I’ve heard this story before. Thanks to you, I have known for years exactly where to slash my wrist if I want to off myself.
Dad: Now listen. Back at boot camp, one of the guys tried to slit his wrists. The drill sergeant woke us all up at 3am, and the guy had cut his wrist straight across and blood was dripping down his fingers. The sergeant said, “This guy wants to die, huh? Well this here’s how to slit your wrist, you f*ckin’ maggots!” And he cut the guy right here (gestures to section of wrist where pulse is), and blood started shooting out (makes shooting motion with fingers). Here, feel my pulse. That right there is where you cut it, just a small incision.
Me: I know, Dad. So did the guy die?
Dad: No, the sergeant said, “This guy has seven minutes to live, now get him the hell out of my sight!” So we took him to the hospital, and he was fine.

If I’m ever going to hurt myself, it will probably be here. At my dad’s house.

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