What I Learned from Give me Fifty! NOW!

A very close friend of mine asked me to tell her something funny about myself. I haven't been feeling very "FUN" lately but that is another story someday. In fact, as important as the subject is that I have been covering I could not help but think of some of my antics the first two weeks of army life in 1969.

To say that I grew up with a "mouth" on me is akin to calling the 100,000 ton carrier USS Ronald Reagan a boat.. I conditioned myself to have the last word on just about everything authoritarian even though I knew there would be "hell to pay." Rarely was it a retort the receiver wanted to hear witty, funny or not. I was tall but skinny as a rail fence. In fact, my grandmother used to tell me I was so skinny that I had to run around in the shower to get wet! I grew up under a tall, large-boned dictator-type father. His WORD WAS THE HOLY GRAIL and not to be questioned; at least not by mere mortals like me. However, no matter how an order was given by him it was meant to be his way or the highway. I took these opportunities  to reject the status quo and offer some retort to demonstrate my disdain.  To combat my fear of him and his domination of everything around him I developed quite a mouth to show contempt of his governance. Sometimes it paid to stand my ground other times not so well as the consequences could be painful. 

This story begins when it came time to leave my "happy home" and start out on my own adventure. I had a summer break-up with my high school girlfriend much to the delight of her brother. When she and I decided we had caused each other enough pain we reconciled. This was considered a challenge to him to thwart the romance and point me to the horizon of my future. Robert was trouble looking for a place to happen. Anyway, to make a long story short, he convinced me and some buddies to join the army with him. I had no idea when we took the armed forces testing that he had already flunked it twice...yep, bait like a fish on a hook! Vietnam was really heating up. I really had nothing to lose by joining though. My draft number was low so joining at least let me fill out the "Armed Forces Dream Sheet" and pick my MOS. I chose the Army as my choice of service since Freeman men have served for decades in defending their country. I decided if I had to go, I was at least going to get the most and best training the US Army had to offer. I wasn't about to get killed because of my own stupidity. The enemy was going to have to work for it if they were intent on taking my life.

At the army induction center I took the oath along with all of the others and felt my skinny chest swell at least another 1/2 inch. However, in spite of my new found patriotism, my mouth came with me. Before getting on the bus I found a drill sergeant that I took a particular dislike to and decided I was going to make him regret his authority over me (fools rush in where angels fear to tread). He herded us onto the bus like cattle, barking like a mad dog the entire time. I sat in the front seat beside the driver and he entered the bus. Closing the door behind him and turning to sit on his throne on the front seat he found a raw recruit had dared to occupy the exalted place.

"You are occupying my seat...move it!" he barked motioning me to the back as if he had a wand.

"There is plenty of room for both of us," I said as I moved closer to the window.

"I'm gonna tell you one more time...get the hell outta my seat and get to the back where I don't have to see your ugly face!" he screamed.

I grinned and that was my first mistake as I had no intention of letting him have his way. He pulled me outta  the seat and told the bus driver to stop on Main Street at a curb. He pushed me out the door and told me to drop. I assumed the position of one caught in a bank robbery with my hands behind my head and spread eagle. It was all his fault for not being more explicit as to what he clearly wanted, I told myself.

Fuming at my ignorance he yelled out. "Give me fifty right NOW!"

I asked him, "Fifty what?"

"Fifty push-ups Gawddammit, and they better look like push-ups or we will be here all damn day long just for you Sunshine!"

I gave fifty half-hearted push-ups and faked a collapse into a heap on the ground. Much applause greeted my return to the bus. The drill sergeant screamed for silence or all of them would be doing push-ups all night long.

Glaring at me, "Oh, a wise guy! I've got plans for you Sunshine," giving me a toothy grin.

I said, "Whatever you say sergeant."

"That's DRILL SERGEANT to you!" he screamed out.

"Yes, sir! Sir!"

"Don't call me sir, MAGGOT! I work for a living. Now git your sorry ass to the back of the bus!"

I said nothing but looked for another seat, feeling quite confident that I had won that contest of wills. Little did I know what sadistic pleasure that night would hold for my new-found adversary...
to be continued

See you next blog,


  1. LOL Can't wait to hear more. Hope it didn't take you too long to learn. :)

  2. I remember the first time I heard you talk about your relationship with your drill sergeant and we laughed our asses off! I am looking forward to this series of blogs. Have you ever thought about writing a movie? A comedy, perhaps? You are a fantastic storyteller! Keep 'em coming.


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