April 20, 1996
9:20 a.m. Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple
Los Angeles, California
I am not approached by Buddhist monks, who do not mention
to me that they are raising money at this elaborate event.
March 23, 1971
Bien Hoa, South Vietnam
It is a hot afternoon in Bien Hoa. Someones trying
to smoke us out, I swear. Theres a fly buzzing about.
It keeps landing on my nose. I tell it to bother the other
men. I dont wish to be treated differently because
I am a senators son, or because I graduated with honors
from Harvard with a degree in politics. The fly seems to
me to resemble Sander Vanocur, whose manner in the presidential
debate of 1960, though bordering on irritating, was appropriately
persistent. I admire something about this fly.
We are typing with great haste. Sergeant Goff says the deadline
for the newsletter is 3:00 p.m., and there is no excuse
for making the printer wait. I make a crack about Greenwich
Mean Time, the International Dateline and how in his home
state of Virginia, which is firmly in the Republican column,
we would have ample time to finish our work. I am as capable
of ribbing the sergeant as the next guy.
"Im referring to this time zone, Gore. Fuck.
Shut up and type. I dont need your shit today, private."
I sigh, to show my respect.
I mention to the rest of the unit that with these old manual
typewriterswith their rudimentary tape correction
systemswe are putting ourselves at inordinate risk
of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, which would prove
very costly to the army in the future should universal health
benefits be offered. The men stare at me blankly. The thousand-yard
stare of war.
I dont think Im going to be invited to tonights