Saturday, March 5, 2016


Our memories are often wrong. We are capable of vividly remembering stuff that never actually happened and/or wildly distorting something that did. I'm not going to offer up a single example of the many scientific studies that prove these notions because there are so many of them out there it would be like saying that science has proved conclusively that it occasionally rains. As far as your DAT (dilettante about town) has been able to determine, there are no rogue scientists, not even any of the ones with bogus Ph.D.'s that make a nice living writing books and appearing on talk radio shows, that claim otherwise -- at least as far as I can remember.

However, you're semi-fearless DAT (I'm not afraid to admit that I'm often afraid, but would remind you that often the only thing we have to fear is fear itself) is prepared to offer himself up, on the altar of science, via a personal example.

I vividly remember driving my '72 VW bug (back in 1972, the only brand new car I've ever owned), with the special paint job that my friend Waltah (Walter, he had a speech impediment), who worked in a body shop, had provided for me, along with a nice discount (thanks Walt), through Valley Forge National Historical Park one day...

[Real quick -- I use a spelling/grammar checker that often wants me to place commas in places that I don't want to, like between thanks and Walt for example. Even when I know it's (the software) technically correct (or more likely, suspect it might be) I tend to ignore it because, well, because I can. I apologise to anyone this may offend as I apologise to anyone offended by my mention of Waltah's speech impediment. Waltah also used to say plobaly instead of probably, which he and I both found to be hilarious. But you must remember political correctness was just a baby back then, and I must also point out that Waltah had slyly developed a few techniques for using his so-called problem as a way to charm the ladies. This was in addition to his awesome sideburns, a grooming technique that was quite popular at the time.]

...And I was following the much dreaded (by many of us at least) annual broadcast of the draft lottery, listening to it on my cars AM only radio (geeze I'm old). This method was only actually used in '69, '70 and '71 to determine who would be drafted, and possibly wind up in Vietnam. Prior to 1969 local draft boards determined who would be called up. The lottery was an attempt to make the process fairer because it was perceived that the draft board's power to hand out deferments that could keep young men out of what was, by this time, the highly unpopular Vietnam war, was often a rigged process.

For those of you who don't remember, or those of you too young to care, this was a RBFD (real big, um, freaking deal). Blue plastic capsules, one of which contained your birthdate, were chosen at random and matched to the number that determined the order in which The Gubmint would discover that you existed and send you a friendly note to ask you to stop in and see them because they were having trouble finding enough volunteers to fight the Godless Commies in a smallish country in S.E. Asia.

See, these tough little bastards, who had been at war with the round eyes (and each other) since they kicked their French colonial overlords out of the pool in 1954, after nine years of war that started after WW2 (you can't make this stuff up) were now at war with us in a proxy war that was actually the USA vs. the USSR. We actually won -- and then couldn't get out of there fast enough because by the time we did we had been there for two decades and almost 60,000 kids had died and a few hundred thousand more had been wounded, taken prisoner or are still missing. After we left, the tough little bastards that the USSR backed kicked the asses of the tough little bastards that we had backed, and whom we told to kiss off when they requested the help we had promised would be forthcoming if just this sort of thing happened. Then the now not necessarily happily united tough little bastards went to war with the tough little bastards in other smallish S.E. Asian countries and that continued, more or less, until 1989.

Fortunately for us, we (the USA) learned many valuable, costly lessons from the experience that have served us well right up to this very day. For the record, I regard the previous sentence as my all time personal best as concerns sarcasm. If there was such a thing as the National Sarcasm Awards, and there just might be once I become king, I'm certain I would be nominated for the coveted Smar' Tass of the Year award.

Anyway, I remember the day in question quite vividly...

[Day, what day? asks the gentlereader that peers over my left shoulder. What the hell are you...]

The draft lottery! You should start taking some of that ginkgo Biloba stuff. I was talking about the draft lottery. Don't you remember?

Sheesh! It was a warm spring day, my number was twenty-something, and I was in shock. I remember thinking/feeling that I would probably be cut down by Charlie (in the fall) as I was handing out melting Hershey bars to adorable Vietnamese kids, dripping with sweat as my feet rotted away in my combat boots.

Thirty seconds of research on the 'net reveals that my lottery took place on 2/2/72. You may have heard about what winter can be like in Valley Forge. Suffice it to say that even in the midst of a relatively mild winter, no one would actually experience a given day in February as a warm spring day.

Turns out my lottery number was 76. Turns out, If I had been drafted, I probably wouldn't have been called up until '73, but no one was drafted in '73. Turns out, Tricky Dick had been slowly but steadily pulling out troops since '69. Turns out, a tentative agreement had been reached to end the war by October of '72. Turns out, a cease-fire was announced in January 1973.

However. What I remember is a couple of years of daily checking the mail to see if Uncle Sam had sent me the inevitable greetings that I was convinced were, well, inevitable.

I gotta' go. It's time to take my gingko Biloba but I can't remember where I put It.

Have an OK day.

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016

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