My Friends, My Courageous Cat, World War II and a Dairy Queen

It’s a cool morning and I’m sitting in my home office, a breeze is coming through the open balcony door. I am drinking strong coffee and have just eaten a bologna sandwich with mustard. Běla the cat is asleep on my lap and Django Reinhardt is playing with unfair, three-fingered grandeur. I am reading about World War II.

All is right in my world.

One of the marvelous aspects of doing graduate work is that if you’re determined, you can link your studies to anything. I am reminded of my essays on Heart of Darkness and the Spaghetti Western, and Canada’s Arctic sovereignty and Crown Royal Whiskey. My research this summer is based on linking the rise of Dairy Queen to the outbreak of World War II.

I’m reading Paul Fussell’s book The Boy’s Crusade, which focuses on the European theater in World War II and it is disturbing. A combat veteran of WWII, Fussell purposefully steers clear of any glorious sentiments attached to the war and depicts terrifying, often first-hand, accounts of horror.

It never stops amazing me that these were ordinary people who fought in the war; just everyday people. So, without trying, I implant my friends into these roles. It’s my friend Lee spilling out of a Higgins boat onto a terrible beach, PJ crouching into the almost certain death of a ball turret and Collin storming across a field under mortar fire.

These things are difficult to imagine. While my friends and I have various talents and good qualities, aptitude in the face of adversity is surely not among them.

You see, PJ has an intestinal-condition that requires him to be within 100 feet of a toilet at all times. He’d probably get a medical disability discharge. Lee smokes 3-5 packs of cigarettes a day; he would be a breathing smoke signal for an enemy. Collin has a cranium the size of an Easter Island resident, while useful to hide behind, the pure size of it would at best weigh him down and at worst be an unmissable target.

And me, well, my sense of direction is lacking, to say the least. I have gotten lost in a supermarket, a three house Irish village and my own kitchen.

We never would have won anything.

A few minutes after embarking into my hypothetical enlistments, a wasp flies into the room sending me and Běla into a flurry of panic, fur and coffee. The cat’s claws engage in a sharp and unfortunate manner with a treasured part of my anatomy, which retracts as I retreat from the office. Běla battles the wasp and I hide in the bathroom, screeching and smacking invisible wasps all over my body.

She wins.

For this victory, I reward her with a piece of bologna and her choice of TV show this evening.

Yep, we wouldn’t win anything. But send my cat.

  1. #1 by Lee Adams on July 4, 2011 - 3:02 pm

    Yeah, but put me in Vietnam and I could guide the choppers to the LZ.

  2. #2 by greg on July 6, 2011 - 6:27 pm

    a three house village may befuddle you but no problem traipsing around a few continents.

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