Eager To Pop My Cherry On The Battlefield

You’re a cherry fucking bitch. That’s the label you get when you arrive at your first unit. You haven’t yet been deployed to the mountains of Afghanistan or the streets of Iraq to prove yourself. Your superiors have several deployments under their belts. Some of the more senior noncommissioned officers (NCO) are men who were in before 9/11 and were among the first into Afghanistan and then Iraq. Your role as a cherry private is to be a sponge for all the knowledge they’re going to bequeath upon you. They’re there to mentor and mold you into a capable soldier who will aggressively and effectively put two bullets into the chest and one into the head of Haji.

As a cherry private, you live in constant fear—not of the enemy, but of your Team Leader and Squad Leader. You fear making a mistake, however small, that will bring their wrath upon your poor soul. And you will make many fucking mistakes.

You have a brain fart and forget the fourth stanza of the Ranger Creed because you’re so nervous. “Do fucking pushups, motherfucker!”

You miss a spot when you shaved that morning. “Hit the fucking ropes!”

You’re two minutes late to being five minutes early to formation. “I’m going to fucking crush your balls after formation.”

You didn’t properly tie down your night-vision goggles. “Start fucking low-crawling, you fucking retard.” Other times you will get smoked merely for being a cherry private.

Little by little, you start to learn how to do things the right way. You’re always on high alert, making sure your uniform is on properly, your equipment is accounted for and is serviceable, and that you’re not fucking up somehow. Yet you always feel like you are. The mere sight of an NCO in the distance causes your heart to race. You’ll spot-check yourself and your buddies again. If he calls you over, you run quickly to him, hoping you didn’t do something that will ensure a soul-fucking.

You shoot thousands of rounds at the range, getting your shot groups tighter and more consistent. You conduct close-quarter combat exercises, live-fire exercises, jump out of airplanes, drive Humvees and Strykers, and fast-rope out of helicopters. You’ll do first-responder training and land navigation. You will work out every morning. You also do countless shitty details and spend lots of time hurrying up and waiting.

You’re eager to deploy. You’re tired of being a cherry bitch and want to get that deployment patch on your right shoulder. You want to stop hearing about what it’s like over there; you want to see it firsthand. You want to join the legions of men who came and fought before you. You want to do your part in fighting for your country and destroying those Haji fucks. This is your war.

It seems that every generation of young men must relearn how grim war is. We watch documentaries and war movies. We read books about the inexplicable horror and terrible waste of it all, yet with each generation, there are a handful who are eager to go on this grand journey. With each generation, there are old men who have lived their lives willing to send young men to fight and die when their young life has only begun. Sometimes it’s for a noble purpose; other times, it’s for profit.

Your deployment date approaches after months and months of training. You go home on leave one last time. Your mother is terrified and tells you to call her often. Your friends are proud of you and tell you to make it back alive, or they’ll kill you. Your fellow cherry privates are as excited as you are to get drunk as often as possible. You report back and find out some of them are idiots and got DUIs, beat their wives, or pissed hot for drugs. Looks like they ain’t going.

Your leadership makes sure you and your equipment are squared away. You’re given a packing list and are visually inspected to make sure you have all that’s required of you. You palletize your duffel bags, rucksacks, and other special equipment. You fill out your last will and square away your finances. You get medically evaluated and vaccinated. There are only a few days left and you serve half-days until you deploy.

The day is here. You sign out your M4, night-vision goggles, and carry your assault pack on your back. In there you have your laptop, a book, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Final manifest is called and you load onto the bus. The bus takes you to the Air Force base. There, you wait until the bird is ready. Once you’re told to load on the bird you follow the line of men in front of you. You step on the bird, take your seat, and wait for takeoff. You know that when you come back, you won’t be a cherry fucking bitch anymore.

~Raul Felix

Read more of my work on Thought Catalog.

Carrie Nation: The Temperance Leader With A Bad Temper

CarrieNation

Imagine yourself as a turn-of-the-20th-century working-class American male. After spending all week in appalling working conditions marked by long hours, low pay, and shitty treatment, the only light you have in your otherwise bleak existence is your Friday night at the saloon. You’re boozing and gambling away your meager paycheck with your equally browbeaten buddies trying to forget the utterly unsatisfying and endless turmoil that is your existence, but you’re thankful you made it through another week without having your arm ripped off at the ol’ mill. Suddenly, the door of the saloon bursts opens and in enters a hatchet-wielding, spectacle-wearing, middle-aged woman yelling, “Men, I have come to save you from a drunkard’s fate.” That was the 1900s equivalent of “You motherfuckers need Jesus!”

That menacing woman was Carrie Nation, a named both feared and mocked by drunken lowlifes of yore. Carrie Nation was a part of the temperance movement before being a part of the temperance movement was the fashionable thing for devout Christian women to do.

You sit there not sure what to do. You’ve read of this rampaging woman in the papers, but you never imagined she’d come to the place where you drink your misery away. She raises her hatchet and skillfully smashes several bottles of whiskey with one devastating swoop. Then she takes another swing and another. A few minutes later, every bottle of alcohol in the saloon lays shattered on the floor. Grown men stare stunned. She leaves the saloon and heads to another. She’s only begun.

Carrie Nation really fucking hated alcohol.

Born in 1846, she had a life filled with tragedy. Her mother died in an insane asylum. Her first husband was a drunk and became increasingly unreliable. He drank himself to death shortly after Carrie left him. She married again, only to have it end in divorce.

Realizing that marriage, love, and happiness probably wasn’t her thing, she devoted herself to God and the temperance movement. Carrie’s early strategies involved doing peaceful protests with hymns and japes at the bartender by greeting them with “Good morning, destroyer of men’s souls.” This plan yielded little results in stopping men whose only saving grace in life was alcohol.

Carrie knew she needed to step it up a notch if she wanted to get results. As a God-fearing woman, in 1900 she got on her knees and prayed to the Lord Almighty. She prayed with all her will and devotion. Back then, God wasn’t the flaky asshole he is now about answering people’s prayers, so he promptly gave Carrie a vision:

“Go to Kiowa [a town in Kansas]. I’ll stand by you.”

Since God always likes to keep shit vague, Carrie ran with it and took it as meaning: “Go to Kiowa and fuck some saloons up with rocks.”

And fuck saloons up with rocks she did. She walked into a bar in Kiowa with a bag full of rocks—or “smashers,” as she termed them—and valiantly threw them against the mirrors and bottles of the saloon. She was getting her revenge on the place where the serpent drink crushed the hopes of her early years. She repeated this action at two more bars. By the time she was finished with the third, a crowd had gathered cheering her on. When the sheriff arrived, Carrie displayed how much of a gangster she truly was—she dared him to arrest her. He didn’t.

Emboldened by her God-approved vandalism, she headed off to Wichita and attacked the most popular saloon in town. The Wichita police weren’t the pushovers that they were in Kiowa, and Carrie was arrested for defacing property. “I am defacing nothing. I am destroying,” she said as she was being arrested. Jail didn’t faze Carrie: “You put me in here a cub, but I will come out a roaring lion. I will make all hell howl.”

After getting out of jail, she adopted her trademark hatchet as her instrument of booze destruction. She headed off from one small town you’ve never heard of to another you’ve never heard of. She would be arrested time and again, each time scoffing at the law and paying the fines for her release. She even had the governor of Kansas plead with her to stop her attacks. “You are a woman. And a woman must know a woman’s place.” Carrie strutted out and called for a hatchetation.

Now, what the fuck is a hatchetation?

A hatchetation was when hundreds of women and a few men who really fucking hate alcohol would destroy over 100 saloons throughout Kansas. It was so effective that it forced state senators to actually do their jobs and enforce the laws already on the books regarding prohibition in Kansas.

Even back then, Americans were a fickle bunch and as quickly as Carrie Nation got things going, the movement faded away. Carrie didn’t give a fuck; she went solo on her crusades and kept many bartenders on alert until her death in 1911.

You’re with your buddies, stepping over the destruction that Carrie Nation left behind. You shake your head in bewilderment and look at the sign above the bar:

“All nations welcome, except Carrie.”

~Raul Felix

Read more of my articles at Thought Catalog.