Sometimes The Harder We Try The More Foolish We Look

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I’ve already told you the funniest thing I’ve have ever seen in my life, which was me trying very hard to be smart and ending up doing the dumbest thing I’ve ever done — and the funniest. I’ve already told you about it, but I’ll do a quick repeat so that I can get to numbers two, three and four.

Party. At a friend’s house in Okinawa. We are playing a word game in which you get to chug-a-lug if you screw up. Works like this: We all sit in a circle — with a drink. Someone calls out a subject — let’s say cars. Everyone chants in a fast rhythm. “The name of the game is cars ...” 

When it comes your turn you better know the name of a car that hasn’t been named, or the chant becomes, “So drink, chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug! So drink chug a ...”

The bad part? What if you are thinking “Ford” and the dummy right ahead of you says —  you guessed it! — “Ford.” You’re dead! If that happens a couple of times you get so woozy you can’t think straight. The next day you wake up and ask your wife, “Hey! Where’d we go last night?”

So-o-o-o ...

Garrett — great genius! — evolves a foolproof method. I don’t sit there with just one name in mind. I always make it two. That way, if a troublemaker just ahead of me calls out one of them, I’m safe. I’ve got a backup!

Right? Yes, unless you’re as dumb as I was that night.

There I was. The name of the game was dogs. The chant raced around the circle. I kept saying to myself, “pointer-setter, pointer-setter, pointer....” 

My turn came. Feeling triumphant, I said blurted out ...

“Poinsettia.”

After we all managed to quit laughing I finally gagged down my drink.

I’ve never forgotten that. Who could?

Another time, PFC John (bleep) and the group from my office, including some of the WAFs and dependent wives, were swimming at a little beach on Okinawa. Proud of his swimming ability, John yelled, “Watch this!” as he dove into a huge incoming wave, disappeared out of sight, and burst skyward out of its other side. 

Striding proudly toward the shore with a big old grin on his face, John asked, “Well? What do you think of that?”

He stopped when one of the WAFs pointed and said, “Not much really.”

Ever seen a guy almost drown himself diving for his bathing suit while all his friends roll around on the sand laughing?

That’s a close second to my poinsettias.

And this ain’t a bad third either.

A good friend, another drill instructor at Sheppard AFB in Texas, had a bridge for his two upper front teeth. Proud of his smile, he never told anyone except me and his wife about it. One day, during his knock-down-drag-out promotion party he got so drunk he could hardly stand. Then he just vanished. Wondering where the hey he had gone, we finally turned him up in the bathroom, with his arm up to the shoulder in a commode filled with everything he had eaten or drunk in six months.

“My God, (bleep)!” his wife yelled. “What are you doing?”

“My teef! My teef!” he said, swirling his arm around in the stuff.

“They’re in your pocket. I can see them.”

For months afterward whenever he heard anyone laughing he frowned.

My National Guard outfit at Otis AFB had one more company-size mess hall than it needed, so it was used as a break room for the cooks and bakers, was equipped with a TV set, a rarity on base in those days, and became a squadron hangout. It was the dead of winter. The mess halls were heated with three huge pot belly stoves that stood over six feet tall, but for the sake of economy, and because only one end of the building was being used, only one stove was ever kept going.

I hate to quit with only two out of three finished, but I tell you, Johnny, there is no way I can get the last one in.

Next week:

“There was a loud WHU-U-M-M-MP! A massive ball of orange flame completely engulfed ...”

Sound funny Johnny? 

Well, at that moment we didn’t think so.

But a few seconds later ...

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