Saturday, March 15, 2014

PTSD, my dad's middle finger, and draft dodgers...

I started an interesting thread on RfM last night.  It started when, while in a bit of a beer and wine haze, I decided I wanted to see if there were any funny Osmond videos on YouTube.  I ran across this video of Alan Osmond talking about how he skipped a Mormon mission and ended up being what many folks in the military refer to as REMFs… (rear echelon mother fuckers).  Those are the guys who miss out on the "delightful" experience of war by staying behind and running things at home.


Alan Osmond explains how he did his bit for the Army during the Vietnam era.

I posted the link to this video on RfM and a lively discussion ensued.  One poster explained that his daughter still deals with the aftereffects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from her time at war.  I know a little something about that because my father went to Vietnam and still has nightmares about it.    

One time, about seven or eight years ago, my dad jumped out of bed while dreaming and seriously injured one of his fingers trying to throw a punch at whatever was fighting with him in his dream.  He hit the wall instead and badly hurt himself.  There was talk he was going to lose his middle finger because it eventually got infected.  He didn't lose his finger, but he did lose his mind.  I wouldn't laugh about this because it's not really funny… except for the fact that it was his middle finger that was badly hurt and that seemed kind of oddly appropriate, given the way my dad is…  

My dad has a sense of humor, but is remarkably tight-assed about a lot of things.  I remember in the early 1980s, we visited The Waterside, a mall in Norfolk, Virginia that was very cool when it first opened but now sucks.  In the 80s, it had lots of cool, hip, shops and restaurants.  It was supposed to be like Harborplace at Inner Harbor in Baltimore.  My dad bought a black baseball cap from an offbeat hat store.  It had a yellow felt hand on the brim that was fashioned into the middle finger salute position.  


The hat kind of looked like this, only the hand was stuffed with batting and made of bright yellow felt.

My mom was horrified.  She said, "You're not going to wear that in public, are you?"

Dad said, "Sure I am!  I'm going to wear it to Rotary!"  My dad was very much a Rotarian back in the day.  I'm sure that cap would have gone over like a turd in a punch bowl among those uptight businessmen from my small southern town.

Mom tried again.  "You are NOT going to wear that in public!"

"Sure I will!  Why wouldn't I?"  my dad queried.

"Do you know what that means?" she demanded.

"Doesn't it mean 'go to hell'?"  my dad asked, starting to look a little worried.

"No." Mom said flatly.  She leaned over and whispered in his ear.  That hat never saw the light of day again.  He hid it under the front seat of his car.  He should have given it to me.  I would have worn it with pride.

My husband, Bill, also deals with a mild case of PTSD.  Fortunately, he's not nearly as affected by it as my father has been.  It comes out when people get too close to him or something startles him.  He does have the odd nightmare, but they are likely to be about his ex wife or kids rather than his time in Iraq.

I was pretty curious about the guy who posted the above video on YouTube, so I went looking for more and found Alan Osmond's discussion about why the brothers' dancing always looked like karate.

  

The uploader included a snarky little exclamation point at the end of the clip… 

That explains why Alan and his brothers used to dance like they were "Kung Fu Fighting".




After watching the video about The Osmond Brothers' dance moves, I got really curious about the uploader and found yet another hilarious Osmond related video.


Apparently, back in 1981, some brilliant person determined that Donny and Marie Osmond were great entertainers for President Elect Ronald Reagan.  

I'm not sure Donny and Marie were able to impress the masses with this cutesy little takeoff of "Johnny B. Good".  I posted this on Facebook and a friend quipped that he hoped there were sick bags available.  I'm not sure it was quite that bad, but it is a rather embarrassingly cheesy performance.

Anyway, getting back to PTSD, it really is a very serious and real thing.  Watching Alan Osmond talk about how he did his bit for the Army and apparently God saved him from the jungles of Vietnam is rather infuriating.  There were lots of talented young men drafted and sent off to Vietnam to fight in the war.  A lot of them didn't come back and a lot of them were never the same when they did come back…  The same has happened to plenty of people who went to Iraq and Afghanistan, though fortunately those wars have not been as personally devastating to as many people as Vietnam was.

In 1986, my dad bought me a live cassette collection by Bruce Springsteen.  Though I don't remember being a big Springsteen fan before I got that collection for Christmas, I used to listen to it all the time and really got into Springsteen for awhile.  One of the songs on it is a very poignant rendition of "The River".  Bruce introduces the song by telling his own story about not going to Vietnam…  But his story is so much more respectful than Alan Osmond's is…


And given the way my dad and I fought with each other over the years, this story and the song have always been kind of meaningful to me.  Because even though we've never really gotten along, we do love each other.  I can never know how PTSD has affected my dad or my mom, who has stood by him for so many years.  He didn't have the benefit of the help that is available today.

When Bill visited my parents' home the first time, he saw that my dad had earned a Distinguished Flying Cross in Vietnam.  It was before Bill had ever been deployed himself.  Bill was impressed by my dad's award, but my dad didn't want to talk about it.  He said that the reason he got the award was "bogus".  I have known my share of military folks.  The ones who are brave and do things to legitimately earn those awards are usually very humble about it… because a lot of times, earning those awards involves doing things that they aren't proud of or acting heroically in situations that end up haunting them for life.    

And yet, there's ol' Alan Osmond talking about the "trophies" he won in basic training for being a great shot and fighting with bayonets so well because he could dance.  It kind of makes me want to puke.  If he was really that great, the military would have sent his ass to Vietnam, right?  But no… he was a typist/clerk in California for a brief time.  And he brags about it.  Apparently, the Lord wanted him safely at home in the United States so he could be an entertainer and influence people to join his church.  What self-important drivel!  And Alan didn't appreciate being called a "draft dodger".  He even commented on the video with more bullshit about promptings from "the spirit".  He was special because as a Mormon, God only speaks to and protects him and his ilk.  The rest of the guys who went to Vietnam and came back damaged or dead were not special enough to be typists in California for "the cause".

Yeah Alan, you did your part for the Army.  Thank you for your service.  Now kindly fuck off.  

For more creepy reading about Alan Osmond, check out his own story about meeting and marrying his wife...
  

4 comments:

  1. Holy mother of God, he's full of himself!

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    1. Yeah, I'd say most of the Osmonds are pretty full of themselves. If I had to choose one that wasn't totally obnoxious, I'd pick Wayne. He seems goofy, but basically nice.

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  2. I agree that Wayne is goofy but humbler and more genuine than most of them. Surprisingly enough, Donny is also one of the more self-deprecating. They all take their suffering quite seriously, and I'm sure their young lives weren't easy by any means, but they at least always knew where their next meal was coming from. Additionally, when they're complaining, they won't ever place the blame on their parents, but instead on some unknown entity, financial adviser, producer, or whomever. (Donny does actually place a bit of blame on the older brothers, who, probably because they were jealous of his success which they perceived to be at their expense, were pretty hard on him.) But the ones who started the show biz ball rolling and who had the power to stop it at any point were Father and Mother Osmond.

    I hate to disparage the Osmonds for not holding their parents accountable, because so many people go overboard in blaming their parents for everything that's wrong in their lives. Yet for the Osmonds to say that their early lives were hell but to maintain that their parents were practically perfect in every way reeks of inconsistency and of shifting of blame.

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    1. Yeah, the interviews I've seen of them by BBC are pretty telling.

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