A Brief History of Me Including an Account of How I Escaped Getting Whacked By The ODESSA
I’m a 45 year old father of two great kids. My son is 9 and my daughter is 11. I’ve been married to my best friend for 24 years and seriously, I feel truly blessed in life.
Born in Southern California, my career as a beach bum was cut short at the age of nine when we moved to Huntsville, Alabama. And yeah, that was a bit of an adjustment.
I presided over a pretty undistinguished high-school career. If there had been AP courses on the finer points of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, comic books, sci-fi & horror movies, and video games, I’d have graduated with honors. But alas, my school didn’t offer the Nerd Track. Much like today, my hobbies back then were my sanctuary from the rat race. I spent a lot of time back in my cave with stacks of comics, game books and video games. When I got in trouble, my parents locked me out of my room. Seriously.
I enlisted in the U.S. Army on my eighteenth birthday as an 11-Bravo which was the Army M.O.S. (Military Occupational Specialty) designation for “Infantry, Rifleman.” I planned to attend college on the G.I. Bill with my ultimate goal to become a police officer and eventually a homicide detective.
I served three years in the Army. I was assigned to the 3d U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) in Washington D.C. where I participated in hundreds of full honor military funerals, parades, and ceremonies while spending a fair amount of time in the field training to fight World War III against the Soviet Union. An advantage of being stationed in D.C. was the incredibly “nerd-friendly” environment. I’d never even seen a comic book store before I moved there. And the monthly-or-so local comic shows enabled me to meet guys like Dave Cockrum, Adam Hughes, Bret Blevins, and Pat Broderick, among others.
One of the highlights of my time in the Army (besides beefing up my lexicon of creative ways to cuss) was marching as part of the escort to President George H. W. Bush in his inauguration parade in January of 1989. Also, the Israeli Prime Minister’s wife once stepped on my foot while I held a door open for her.
I was medically discharged two months early after injuring my lower back. Years of running (soldiers don’t “jog”) the streets of D.C. and road marching with a heavy rucksack had taken its toll on the disc between my L-4 & L-5 vertebrae. The little fella (I call him Pepe’) finally gave up and said “peace out” in late 1989. The last time I saw Pepe’, he looked like a cross between one of the California Raisins and a dehydrated pork chop. I suffer from some pretty intense chronic pain to this day but at least I got a kinda funny story out of the whole thing. And isn’t having a funny story to tell what makes life worth living?
After being bounced around the fine U.S. Army health care system for several months, I ended up at a clinic where yet another set of X-rays were taken. Apparently, the MRI had not been invented in 1990.
I found myself sitting in the office of an old-as-dirt German-accented doctor (a civilian in Army employ). He wasted no time with small talk before offering me his keenly informative diagnosis of my back pain. “I have looked at zee filmz and your back is very bad…very, veryyyy bad.” As I struggled to absorb this highly technical rephrasing of something I already knew, my eyes settled upon the large, ornately framed diploma hung on the wall behind his desk.
I know what you’re thinking. With the medical prowess clearly on display we must be talking Johns Hopkins? Maybe Harvard? The DeVry Institute? Nope. My man actually received his medical degree from the University of Berlin in…wait for it…1936. You didn’t need to squeak out a C- average in high school German to glean that much from the yellowed document.
If you’re like me, you’d have wanted more detail as well. I’m silly like that. So, I asked Herr Doktor if he could be, oh I don’t know…more specific. He stared at me for a few seconds then actually turned kinda red and yelled at me something to the effect of “YOU DON’T QUESTION ME! I AM ZEE DOCTOR AND YOU ARE ZEE PATIENT! I QUESTION YOU!” At least that’s what I think he said. It’s not everyday one gets screamed at by a doctor who strolled the same streets as Der Fuhrer.
I’d been yelled at by some pretty big/ugly/mean drill sergeants but this was much more disconcerting. As a World War II history buff since the age of 12, I wasn’t about to press the matter. Hell, I’d seen The Odessa File and Marathon Man on VHS. I wasn’t looking to get thrown in the trunk of a nondescript black sedan and driven out to the woods for a blind-date with a Luger. Is it safe?
Eventually, the Army cut me loose and I enrolled at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I met my wife in my very first class (History 101) on my very first day. We married seven months later and soon transferred to the University of South Alabama where I graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice.
My dream of becoming a detective took the dirt nap along with Pepe’ the Degenerative Disc. But I still managed to find a job in the Alabama Judicial System that allows me to help the victims of crime. I’ve been in my job for 19 years now (seems like 30) and I’m looking forward to retiring at age 51 so I can blog and sell crap on eBay full-time. Or maybe not.
Until then, I continue to juggle work, family life, hobbies, and blogging. I hope you enjoy some (or all) of my posts and maybe you’ll get some inspiration for your own nerd cave.
Stay nerdy my friends…