Fell into a conversation yesterday afternoon while out walking with a mid-to-late Twenties something guy who came back from Afghanistan 14 months ago and regularly has his meals catered at the Saint Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen (and Food Pantry). Though the latter part not that much as he's homeless as well as addicted eight ways to Sunday, which was convenient because that's what day of the week it was. Jesus, You might want to work more on Your timing and less on Your delivery.
He was gathering up cans and bottles to redeem for the deposit and I didn't want to have to ask what he was going to do with the money because had he told me I might then have had to do something. As it is, I can pretend I don't know what he needed the money for and that I've never seen track marks in my life. I am so good at lying, especially to myself after sixty years, I very nearly believe me and then I almost throw up in my own mouth in shame at who I have become.
I didn't ask his name and he didn't offer it. He lives under the viaduct bridge down near the Shetucket beyond where the parking lot for the YMCA used to end. The Y, itself, beat the parking lot to the punch and ended about four years ago and nothing has been done with the sad little building except to add it to the inventory of things we're going to recycle and repurpose as soon as we figure out what the hell we're doing.
You might want to have a seat since this could take a while.
I don't think he has that kind of time and from what I've been reading, the Veterans Administration, everybody's favorite punching bag, but now it's an Election Year so we use the lightweight gloves normally used on the speed bag, would be overwhelmed if the men and women we've dropped into the meat grinder of American foreign policy for the last eleven years came home with conventional wounds but it's so much worse than can be imagined and so little is being done for the invisible injuries and hurts that cannot heal.
We've got folks on TV at every news channel telling me how it's the other party's fault (no longer matters what the issue is, the other guy did it) and one of the few things both major parties have gotten good at is pretending that none of these broken people whose lives we shattered for the most stupid and nebulous of national security reasons even exist.
There's this picture that's usually accompanied by an exclamation at how this is how a "Real President" acts with an exhortation to 'share' the photo on every social network. It took me a while to find a naked one, so to speak, because that kind of bully pulpit patriotism is one of the reasons I have trouble with USA 2012.
No one knows the name of that kid in that photo-just another BDU prop in a passion play that's all played out. Could be the same guy I ran into yesterday-I dare you to prove otherwise. Little pitchers have big ears. Don't stop to count the years. Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.