My First Time Going to War
A frat boy joins the military to pay for college but ends up on the frontlines in the War on Terror
“Hollywood” was the moniker they gave me.
Amid the simulated explosions, flash-bang grenades, and pop pop pop of simunition, my elbow rested on a concrete window ledge. Using the ledge as a prop for my left arm, I jammed the opposite hand’s index finger in my ear to muffle the sound. One might think I was on a radio calling in simulated air strikes, but this phone call was far more important than bombing Special Forces soldiers dressed in Middle Eastern thawbs attacking our position. No, my fraternity brother was in dire need of directions. Directions on how to make trash can punch.
“Sledge! What the fu — ”
Instinctively, I took the finger out of my ear and raised it in the air, silencing the offender. “Use the pink Country Time lemonade!” I yelled over the sounds of simulated war. “Otherwise it’ll taste like cough syrup!”
From my peripheral, I saw another soldier walk in the concrete room, and he skidded to a halt, jaw agape. Time now limited, I shouted the instructions as fast as possible. “30 cans of beer! Everclear! Don’t eff this up or I’ll — ” But I never finished before my team sergeant’s voice boomed over the explosions.
“Hey, Hollywood! Turn your fucking phone off!!”
I didn’t understand the reference, but later discovered it was from the opening sequence of the Jim Carrey film Me, Myself, & Irene. Not that the movie mattered, let alone the reference to it. As word spread that I took a call to plan a party I was thousands of miles away from in the middle of a fake war, “Hollywood” stuck.
The real war — the one going on in Afghanistan — was still a blockbuster Band of Brothers miniseries going on in my head, so I didn’t need to take fake training seriously. I’d be fine. We’d be fine. The Taliban were lousy shots anyway, I rationalized. I’d seen enough war movies to know if you got shot, a medic would jab you with morphine while you screamed and opened fire on the hordes of bastards responsible for 9/11.
My idealistic fantasy lasted another two weeks while “Hollywood” orchestrated pranks and fell asleep…