Corporation yes man but no one knows your name
First to take the credit but last to take the blame
Office like a battlefield on the 42nd floor
Pencils turn to switchblades, executives at war.
You’re ready for the rat race
I can see it written on your face
If you’ll do your best friend in, you win again.
After last week’s post, I felt the need to express why my Asperger’s had me so focused on hairstyles. See, I thought I was the only person in history who had any anxieties about haircuts. While it may not be a big thing for most of the world but to someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, anxieties such as this may be harrowing for the person suffering from it. I know this to be true from my own experience and even though it was thirty-five years ago, the memories still remain and leave a sour taste behind.
My haircut anxieties began in 1979 when I enlisted in the US Marine Corps. I knew before I joined that when I went to boot camp, that I would get all my hair shaved off and that I would have to keep it short throughout my entire enlistment. However, I didn’t realise just how strict the Marine Corps regulations were on haircuts and that it would remain very short for that time. Nobody did. Furthermore, I was in the infantry who were strict to the letter on this. It also gave me anxieties over whether or not my haircut was within regulation. Therefore, like many of my comrades, I couldn’t wait to get out and grow my hair once again. I felt that, in my own words, “after four years of this bald eagle shit, I had the right to rebel a little.” It was my right after living under strict discipline while giving four years to my country.
So, when I got out of the marines, that is exactly what I did. I got my final haircut in the service five days before I left and didn’t cut my hair again for eighteen months. By that time, my hair was down to my shoulders but I didn’t care. I was just rebelling from having to be the other extreme for four years. Unfortunately, since it was during the intolerant times of 1980’s Reagan America, most people were unsympathetic. Okay, I never wanted people feeling sorry for me but I know that I didn’t deserve the persecution, abuse and exclusion I got from people for doing nothing more than growing my hair long. One guy made it a point to tell me I looked like a faggot. Then he could because of his physical disabilities, I would have been in the wrong for retaliating. (I should have used this example in my Hidden Forms of Bullying post but I digress.) What really frustrated me was that many people knew that I had served in the marines. Many knew that I had to adhere to strict regulations but it seemed that they just didn’t want to make the connection that my long hair was down to a reaction from that life. In their minds, I was not conforming so I needed to be sanctioned. What frustrated me more was that practically none of those people had ever served in the military, many of those were just out of high school and had only a TV/textbook view of the world I had seen with my very own eyes.
The fallout from this was not only great amounts of anxiety due to the belief that people were judging me solely because of the length of my hair but it began to make me resent my country. Growing my hair once I got out was one of the things that kept me going when I was in the marines. Therefore, when people gave me crap about my long hair, I saw it as if they wanted to take away the very thing I was looking forward to having. It was important to me!
Fortunately, my story had a happy ending. Three years after I got out of the Corps, I went to college in London and found a more tolerant society. At least no one was persecuting me over my hair length and things did turn out well for me in those regards. Saying that, the more painful memories haven’t completely gone away but I can deal with it now, even with people today who have tried to downplay my suffering. I mentioned on one site about all the intolerance I suffered for having long hair, one woman responded patronizingly with, “Poor victim” and something about getting free counselling. A gentleman stated that if my own problem in 80s Reagan America was a few people dissing me about my hair, it couldn’t have been that bad. I had to inform him that he was way off base with that one, he didn’t respond.
That is my haircut anxiety. It might have been three decades ago but it was very real for me back then and caused me a lot of anxiety, stress and suffering. For the vast majority of the world, it is a little thing but for someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome or genuine anxiety issues, it is very important to them and can have a traumatic effect on their lives.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423561714&sr=8-1&keywords=he+was+weird
All the sounds of long ago
Will be forever in my head
Mingled with the wounded’s cries
And the silence of the dead.
Because I’m still in Saigon
Still in Saigon in my mind.
Carrying on from last week’s post about honouring all veterans, my thoughts went back to my life after I left the Marines in 1983. While I stated that when I was in the service, I was treated with indifference and even disdain, that carried on even more after I left the service, especially when I started acting more and more un-military. My most grievous crime was daring to think that after four years of having (no choice) to wear a crew cut in the service of my country, that is was okay for me to grown my hair long.
It seemed in my mind that many of those who went to my college, (I should point out that community colleges in America are little more than glorified high schools), knew that I had been in the marines, either didn’t link it with my desire to grow my hair or didn’t want to or just didn’t think it was a good enough reason for me to do so. As a result, I was treated as a ‘freak’ and an outcast for my supposed heinous crime.
Community college wasn’t the only place I experienced problems with intolerance of my hair style. I remember going for a job interview and in spite of my experience, the yuppie (it was the mid 1980s) who interviewed me said he shouldn’t hire me on account of my hair style. This yuppie pretended to understand saying that when he was in college that he had longer hair than me. I told him that I bet that some of that time he was in college with his long hair, was during the four years where I was forced to wear a crew cut defending his right to wear it. He responded that I didn’t have to justify it. Then there was what I call the Reagan Youth. Teenagers who didn’t want to know my story and only saw the hair, which to them wasn’t cool in intolerant 80s Reagan America. I got some crap off them as well.
On the subject of employment, while I had little trouble finding employment after leaving the service, there were some potential employers who didn’t look on my service they way they should. To a couple of these persons, being in the service wasn’t a proper job and therefore I was four years without one. So much for the US military’s claim that it gives young people much needed work experience. It does but not all employers at the time recognized it as such.
These, along with other factors like my college refusing to give veterans course credit for Physical Education, led me to question whether or not serving my country was actually worth it. Furthermore, I began to grow more resentful towards America. I concluded that I had given my country the four best years of my life and was ready to die for it if need be, but all my country gave me in return was grief. People’s reaction that I didn’t have it as bad as the Vietnam Veterans had it and I should just shut up wasn’t the right answer. See, by the mid 1980s, America was finally waking up and showing remorse to the harm they did those men and women who served in Vietnam. But that’s another story.
Where am I going with all this? My Asperger’s mind is asking the same question while I type this. I could never figure out why people who knew I was in the service couldn’t see why I would want to grow my hair long when I got out. In the end, I put it down to ignorance and intolerance. My point is that when someone serves in the military, they should be accorded the thanks from their country for being willing to give up three or four years of their lives to serve. Even more so if they are sent somewhere they get shot at. Furthermore, if they seem a little eccentric when they return to civilian life, it should remember that these people were in a very stressful setting. Like me, these people might have only served for four years but they are veterans for life and should be afforded the respect due them.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_4?crid=2RBZBG3KFJ24H&keywords=michael+d+lefevre&qid=1574192934&sprefix=michael+d+l%2Cstripbooks%2C159&sr=8-4
It’s a gutter ballet, just a menagerie
Still the orchestra plays
On a dark and lonely night
To a distant fading light.
Before I start, I am in no way advocating that those who served in the military in peacetime deserve the same reverence as those who actually saw combat and put themselves in harm’s way for their country. The men and women who actually risked their lives deserve all the honour coming to them. In fact, I can safely say that no country in the world honours their wartime military better than the USA. Unfortunately, and I’m speaking from my own experiences, America tends to go the opposite way in regards to its peacetime military. Servicemen and women during times of peace are treated with indifference and even disdain.
I served in the US Marines from 1979-83 and during those four years I only had one old man thank me for serving. In the eyes of most of the country, I was scum, a criminal, a druggie and in some peoples’ opinions, no better than a welfare cheat. These people claimed that I went into the service so I wouldn’t have to try to get a ‘real job.’ Rednecks, who these days proudly display “Support Our Troops” on their t-shirts and bumper stickers weren’t supportive of us in peacetime. While my experience was mild, I’ve heard stories of other servicemen during the time I served suffering worse experiences from rednecks. Even the elite Marine Corps which I served in, they referred to us as ‘boy scouts.’ Further proof was in 1981, the only Thanksgiving I managed to get home for, I went to my former high school’s Thanksgiving Day football game in my dress blues. I was expecting a few strange looks but not as many as I did get. Likewise with the mock salutes. But in the eyes of many patrons of the game, I must have some sort of issue because I was wearing my best uniform to just a football game. I wonder if I would encounter the same thing if I was serving today.
Recently, on the Quora website, I asked why America treats its peacetime military the way it does. The answers I got were food for thought. Historically, Americans have always been a little wary of a large peacetime military. Even America’s first president, George Washington (and second best president overall), warned against large standing armies. Service persons remind people of the fact that we have a military in peacetime. A small few don’t see the need for one. Therefore, they take it out on those they see who are serving their country. While I see their point of view, what I ask is: Is it necessary to treat individuals who are willing to give up a few years of their life to their country with such indifference or disdain? Is it right?
Over the last decade, I have had people actually thanking me for my service and I’ll say it again, I am truly grateful for your offers of thanks. I thank you for thanking me! On the other hand, it shouldn’t have taken three decades and two wars in the Middle East for this to happen. It would have been nice to have been acknowledged for my service when I was actually serving. If people had, I wouldn’t have been so bitter for so long.
By all means, thank and congratulate those who went to war for their country. Give them their just due and more and shed plenty of tears for those who paid the ultimate price. They deserve it even more. But when the wars are over and our service personnel aren’t getting shot at, give them some respect for being willing to put themselves in harms way should the time ever arise again. Peacetime service people deserve a bit of respect too.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_7?crid=VDO7VTKIA2T5&keywords=michael+d+lefevre&qid=1573591884&sprefix=michael+d+le%2Cstripbooks%2C142&sr=8-7
Blue on black, tears on a river
Push on a shove, it don’t mean much
Joker on jack, match on a fire
Cold on ice on a dead man’s touch
Whisper on a scream, doesn’t mean a thing
Doesn’t bring you back, blue on black.
I don’t know about anybody else
When I think about you I touch myself.
As we approach another Remembrance Sunday and people wear the red poppies to commemorate, my disillusionment with the Left is also further ignited. In the past few years, they have stated that people should not wear the red poppy because it glorifies war. While I will argue until the cows come home that it doesn’t, what really grinds my gears is that the Left’s claim ignores historical fact, something I have always been frustrated with the Right in the US.
As a young adult living in 80s Reagan America, one thing the administration and other conservative types including the media tried to do was to downplay the Vietnam War. Some on the American Right wanted the war de-emphasized or even completely omitted from the high school history curriculum. For me, this is dangerous because what it does is that it leads to governments making the same mistakes over and over. I’m not just talking about war either. Getting back, yes, it’s not fun learning that your country lost a war or even made mistakes in wars they won. But ignoring those facts isn’t the best way to educate future generations. This is why I get even more upset when I see the left doing the same thing.
Nearly one year ago, I wrote a piece on why I thought World War I was the most senseless waste of human life in the history of mankind. I still think that. The tradition of the poppy came about as a direct result of that needless bloodbath. After the war, red poppies were the first plants to spring up in the fields of Flanders in Belgium after four years of the ground being torn apart by the warring armies. It inspired a poem and show to man that something beautiful came about after all the death and destruction. The wearing of the red poppy was to show that and to remember the men who fought and died in that war. They were truly lions led by donkeys.
What the Left needs is a history lesson. The problem here is that their anti-war enthusiasm has led for their calls for wars not to be taught at all. I can say a lot about that but it will be a totally different blog post. They need to study World War I and truly learn the sacrifices made against the futility of that war and that wearing a poppy doesn’t glorify it. It remembers those who risked and gave their lives in that futility.
I won’t post a link to He Was Weird but one book I can definitely recommend on the subject of World War I and the men who fought it is called “Company K” written by William March. Trust me, the book is much better than the film and I liked the film.
I looked out this morning and the sun was gone.
Turned on some music to start my day.
I lost myself in the middle of the song.
I closed my eyes and she slipped away.
I’ts more than a feeling, more than a feeling
When I hear that old song they used to play
I begin dreaming, more than a feeling
Till I see Marianne walk away.