We Will Not Apologize For The 1980s

My mom just moved. An old box of my stuff from high school and the Marine Corps was discovered in a back closet, hidden away since the early 1990s. Some of the things in the box I remember, some I don't. But they're undeniably mine. And I am reminded once again my memory is not as superior as I have lead myself to believe.

A statement. A purpose. An objective. An era. A goal not written down is just a wish. A dream. High school was winding down and most were opening acceptance letters to state universities or the local junior college. Boasting at their lockers between classes. Wearing collared shirts with college logos. Making the local newspaper. I had not been applying to colleges. Buddies would bust my balls by having trade school applications sent to my house. Every one of them. Devry, truck driving school. Training as an electrician or as a plumber, a computer technician or an auto mechanic, as opposed to the true successes only a college education could provide....these things every kid growing up in the 1980s had come to believe. The trades were beneath the smart kids, the "popular" kids. The military, during the Cold War....a little more than a decade after the end of the Vietnam War was a mildly more respectable option...might be more honorable than a trade school but certainly not as respectable as a plan for a few semesters of junior college. I hated school towards the end of my senior year. Boredom was worse than dying of an incurable disease. Fear of failure is a powerfully motivating force. "What are you gonna do after high school?" I hated that question. Then one day I made up my mind. I'm joining the fucking Marines. And some time shortly thereafter, but before the adventure actually began came this T-shirt.

My partner in Heavy Metal Thursday, Anthony Cioffi, has a very similar story. Been there. Done that. Bought the T-shirt.

I take a photo of the shirt and send it to Anthony. Minutes later an image is sent in response. He's still got the same shirt. His was within arm's reach.

He and I both joined the Marine Corps and volunteered to be in the infantry. If I had wanted to learn to work on refrigerators or hot water heaters or computers I would've taken those brochures more seriously. No disrespect. It's just not what I wanted to do.

"Join the Marines. I wanted to travel to exotic, distant lands, meet exciting, unusual people, and kill them."

Been there. Done that. And so did Anthony. And we aren't apologizing for the 1980s.

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