Blog 973 – 04.23.2018
Put Your Game Face On
I sincerely believe that as the childhood round says that “life is but a dream” but for all of you whom I think take life a bit too seriously it is also quite a game. I have loved Shirley Temple all of my young now a bit older life. My dear departed mother being my first love, Shirley was my first little sweetheart, and one of all the world’s as well. As a small boy I was shocked and so disappointed to learn that my Shirley was already then a grown up but still beautiful married lady. I had so hoped to meet her in person, win her sweet heart, and marry her myself someday. I even carried a picture of her as a little girl in my wallet till I learned she was already grown.
I came across this picture of Shirley with her game face on recently and knew that I would have to write a piece to go with it. Here it is. She looks so serious and serious can sometimes be fun too. I recall how I endured eight weeks of Army Basic Training as a barely eighteen year old boy away from home for the first time. I thought I was already a man but did I ever have a lot of growing up yet to do, and perhaps I still do.
I did have the insight to not buck the system but to play the game. I had played war games in the open lots and woods around my boyhood home with the neighbor boys, watched TV’s Combat, Gallant Men, and Walter Chronkite’s World War II documentary TV series, Twentieth Century. I also had two years of Army ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corp) in high school so I had already had quite an education and a lot of experience pretending to play war.
To illustrated that even at eighteen I knew how to put my game face on I relate my experience in bayonet and hand to hand combat training. The Drill Instructor would yell, “What is the spirit of the bayonet?” To which we were supposed to growl and scream back, “To Kill!” And we did in our our biggest best outside voices. Then we were taught to stab and thrust the bayonets secured to the barrels of our M-14’s and to use the butts of our rifles to finish off our now prone and bleeding enemies.
Then we secured our weapons for the hand to hand combat run through course. There were all these large as life rubber dummies on which we were supposed to execute all the hand, foot, knee, and body moves that we had been taught to demobilize and take out the enemy hand to hand. Instead of the Army with my temperament I was vastly more suited to be part of The Peace Movement than the The War Effort but there I found myself in the U.S. Army in Basic Training with my game face on.
I growled, yelled, screamed and mock fought so convincingly that my D.I. called me forward as an example of how hand to hand combat was supposed to be done. He thought I was a serious killing machine. I was only having fun with my game face on. Thank God, even though I spent eleven months in the Republic of South Vietnam I never had to “play war” for real. My heart truly goes out to all those who did on all sides, many who died or were nonetheless terribly affected inside and out.
It is my enduring hope that some sweet day we will study war no more and reserve our game faces only for play on game day. I still love you Shirley Temple Agar Black, always have and always will.
Your friend and fellow traveler,