Before I say anything else, let me just say I was not at all injured in any of the following antics, so please do not call the ASPCA. I am not an animal! I mean – of course, I’m an animal in a biological sense but that doesn’t mean I’m foregoing soup spoons and the cheese course to keep my paws off the table!
So I consulted anyone who would answer my email about what a 20-year-old Marine would want in a care package from a complete stranger. I assembled a shopping list and picked up bags of stuff. Siobhan and I sat in my living room Saturday night and talked about each little item – twice, in most cases because almost anything I picked up, I bought two. It was very exciting. I dumped shopping bags, divided things into His and Hers piles and sat between the piles. I looked back and forth between the piles. Siobhan got bored with my contemplation almost immediately and ordered sashimi to be delivered, which arrived really soon and was very delicious. No one was hurt in the shopping, surveying or the eating, as if these things were meant to be.
Section 2. The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.
A person charged in any state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another state, shall on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime.
No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.
This morning, I dragged shopping bags full of stuff to work. Actually, getting to the car was awfully exciting when I also had to put out trash and recycling and bring lunch. I always bring lunch. So it was not at all surprising that I forgot something. What was surprising was that what I forgot was to shut the passenger-side door, and that when I parked the car, the door was just resting gently against the car. Nothing had fallen out, nothing was missing, I still had all my fingers and toes. Look! A fucking miracle! Gleeful, I packed these following things into padded boxes addressed to My Marines.
Ricola cough drops
Deck of cards
Instant macaroni & cheese
Giant rubber bands
Tea bags, instant apple cider, cocoa
Mrs. Dash lemon pepper
Just for Her:
antiperspirant (I’d bought a six-pack at Costco for myself, so it was in the house.)
box of tampons
I learned a lot compiling these objects. For instance, I had no idea the technology of store brand macaroni and cheese had surpassed all common sense and gone instant. This suggests, from a cultural perspective, that people who do not know how to cook can ingest 350 empty calories almost before their brains have time to suggest a nutritious salad as a better meal option. Well, at least these kids are marching and suggestions about vegetables are made in the imperative.
Also, no matter what I saw in the stores, I had to think very hard about my own motives in choosing items to send. As I walked through the aisles, I asked myself why I was looking for certain items and why others didn’t interest me. Was I assuming my interest was the same as what theirs would be? No, I knew. Because of the age and generational differences between us, I forced myself to assume that what I would pick they would not, and vice versa. This was very exciting work for my brain. Further, my name appears nowhere on the packages and not on the notes I wrote them. My signature looks like a broken EKG. I wanted that package to be as close as it could be to coming from anyone in New Brunswick, and to that end I had to guard against Ego Creep. Every item in the shopping cart and eventually in the boxes took on enormous meaning when I started to think about it as the only package I might send. All things – my ego included – assumed ordinary proportions when taken as one package among others, and My Marines would get packages from their families that would be infinitely more important. Everything from me was simply extra. Of course, then I wished I’d boxed up a crate of snow globes and sock puppets because, you know, that would be funny. On the other hand, abdicating my position at the Center of the Universe however temporarily gave me a slight headache. Finally, I mailed the packages, which was gallingly expensive.
Poor Impulsives: our friends at Coalition of the Swilling inform us that more Marines need correspondents to selfishly apply possessive pronouns, i.e.: my and our. If I managed it, you can do it, and I recommend this exercise to anyone who’s feeling a little blue or isolated. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You don’t have to wonder if you’re helping someone, because you are. It’s a quick project – zip, zip, zip! and you’re done. I hope some of you will make contact and send packages, and this brings me back to Me:
I am so sick to my stomach every time I see one of those God-forsaken yellow ribbon magnets I curse Tony Orlando, who – really – never did anything to Me. The same people who shout down dissenters with, “Support the troops, lowlife scum!” wouldn’t dream of lifting a hand as the Veterans’ Administration budget is cut, as the federal deficit – with which our future workforce must contend – mushrooms, and as the middle class is shredded. Time is not on our side. As a nation, we are repeating mistakes right and left that we will pay for for decades, but there’s one mistake we must not repeat. Soldiers returning from Vietnam were greeted with silence and shame, called terrible names and denied honor. Regardless of the mistakes our governing fathers make, let us not shame our children and in the process ourselves. Let us at least know we learned this desperately important something.