The perfect woman:

At some point lots of guys (if they live long enough) have to reconcile the fact that they can no longer attain hedonistic bliss with any of the girls in the Girls Gone Wild or Wild Party Girls videos. None. I may want them, on a purely lustful level, but my standards have shifted, and let's face it, they're too young for a guy like me. A mindless fling with such a woman might be nice, just to make me feel young again, but the idea of developing a long-term relationship is right out of the question.

No. I want a woman who looks like that, but is at least as intelligent as most of the girls on E2. I want the body and the brains, a woman who looks like she should be worshipped for her physique but is too smart to end up on one of those frat-boy videos, a girl who reads and thinks and can out-talk just about any pick-up line known to man. And what's more is that I want such a woman to be assertive. Not aggressive, but assertive. Yeah, dig it. I'd want her to have the courage to say what she wants, when she wants it, without censorship or fear of anything, least of all me.

Hair color doesn't matter. Breast size is important- anything above a D-cup is too much for me, lower than a C-cup is not enough. Hips should be trim, as should be her waist. And if she shaves "down there", I wouldn't complain a bit. Legs for miles. Hands which are soft and smooth. And a brain so sharp, so devastatingly brilliant that one word from her lips would stupefy any egg-head. A fem-geek, most definitely. Employed, independent, insightful, wise, caring, fun and so sexy that it hurts to look. So unbelievably beautiful that to glance at her and then close my eyes would inspire moments of imaginary bliss.

And she wouldn't want to waste her time on jocks or guys who are full of themselves. She'd want a humble, sensitive guy who would appreciate her in every way, for all the right reasons. This woman would look at me, sitting in the corner of a cafe with a laptop computer and typing madly away, unaware of the rest of the world, and she would see the aura of creativity about me and her thighs would immediately get wet at what I'm hiding in my brain pan. Her age would be irrelevant and her idea of success would be rooted in character, not dollar signs. She would appreciate a sardonic smile instead of a wolf-whistle. She would get twitterpated over seasoned confidence as opposed to arrogance or muscles- but she'd want me to be able to hold her tight at a moment's notice, should the need arise. Her inscrutible eyes would survey a crowd and pick out the guy, me, who has watchful eyes and a deep, penetrating gaze, a guy who knows how to keep those around him safe.

She would sweep me off my feet with intelligent banter and, later, she would whisper in my ear, every morning, and tell me to do good things every day, to meet my potential and rise above. She would inspire me to overcome any obstacle with not only grace and aplomb, but style and panache. And she would return home every day and ask me what I accomplished for myself and then tell me what she had done for herself (completed a project, earned a raise without sacrificing her dignity, broken a personal record, counted the minutes until she got home to be with me). She would be my best friend and ask my opinion on topics and share her own ideas/thoughts without letting things degenerate into an argument. She would know how to disagree without anger or malice. And when she has a problem, she would say so without needing to be prompted or deflecting any such prompting, respectfully and with articulation.

She would exude confidence that was cultivated from experience and she would have a healthy, mature relationship with her parents. She would want a reasonable amount of children, enough to make life worth living but not so many that it would seem a burden. She would not apply pressure for marriage and simply accept it as an eventuality, should things continue on a steady keel. She would express a desire for a quiet, simple wedding, should the topic ever be brought up, because she wouldn't want her father to spend too much just to give her away to another man.

She would have a clean record and a good head on her shoulders, having learned from the mistakes of others. She would be ideal in every single way known to man. And she would love sex, especially when it's interactive and fun without sinking to debauchery or depravity. She would be vocal enough to say what does and does not please her, but not so vocal as to let the neighbors know.

She would want to make me happy not by giving me things but by seeking out my interests and sharing them with me. And she would encourage me to do the same and even be so bold as to say what she likes, when we come across it together. She would not demand a diamond ring for the engagement or wedding, for she would know just how much blood had been spilled for that stupid little gem. She would revel in simplicity and the evolution of the heart. She would sometimes put a rose in her hair and lean in to me so that I could smell the intoxicating fragrance of her hair and the flower.

She would have a soft, lilting laugh that would make any man's heart light and free upon hearing it. She would never laugh at cruelty and instead find pleasure in the miracles which surround us every day. She would sometimes ask to go on a picnic in the park so that we could look up at a blue sky and pick out shapes in the clouds.

She would appreciate art and music and know the difference between science fiction and speculative fiction. She would never like horror movies but thoroughly enjoy psychological thrillers, so that she could grab my arm at the thrilling moments and feel safe and close to me while I softly chuckle in her ear and gently, lovingly sooth her with a warm embrace.

She would hate TV as a general rule and prefer to spend Sunday afternoons sitting in the living room reading a book or taking a cat nap- or maybe break out the crossword puzzle book with a challenging grin on her face. She would exercise for one hour out of the day and encourage me to do the same, for my sake and offer rewards if I took her advice. Her life would not center around sex, as much as she enjoys it, and would rather improve her mind, heart and soul in tandem with my own progress through this world, so that we could share it. She would work a steady schedule and take a week every year off for vacation.

She would have her own friends, all of whom know me, and she would go out with them occasionally for a Girl's Night Out while I would do the same with my buddies, for a night of pool or going to listen to a local band. She would appreciate the fact that two people, no matter how much they love each other, would need some time apart, if only to maintain that sense of independence which drew us together in the first place.

And as the years went on like this, her hair would gray slightly and small wrinkles would appear here and there, but she would always be young and beautiful, no matter what.

Ah, yes. It's nice to dream.

"I am part of the US Military. Yes, this much has been established. I gladly throw myself into combat, knowing that I do it for the love of the men that throw themselves into it for me."

"Could you shoot a man?", and in response: "If he shot at me!? I'd disappear, then sneak up behind him, stab him in the shoulder to let him know I'm there, then slice his throat and make his friends watch." This, in front of nearly 4,000 solemn individuals.

I'm a warrior. It's the life I've chosen. I don't suppose, I'm sure of it.

"A soldier has the benefit of looking his enemy in the eye." - Gladiator

I didn't join the military because I wanted this lifestyle. I did because I needed to kickstart my life, and the government agreed to give me money and foundation in exchange for possibly risking my life. Fair enough.

Now, the day I've known was coming is nearing. Soldiers from Korea are beginning to deploy to Iraq. The thing is, my particular unit is a division support unit. A single company supports an entire division, instead of being attached to a Battalion or Brigade Combat Team. So the Second Brigade Combat Team from the Second Infantry Division is now deploying to Fallujah. The division support unit, the Second Military Police Company, will be leading the charge. 21 MPs with 2 support soldiers will be spearheading the charge... And providing security for the MSR (Main Supply Route) leading into Fallujah.

The medic, a brickhead named Penhale, will be the platoon medic. The minute I was told Penhale was the designated medic, I couldn't believe it. The first week, while the platoon was out cleaning weapons, training, and packing, Penhale was nowhere to be found. You check his room, he's sleeping.. Or smoking. Penhale was tasked to teach a class on combat first aid. The mechanic, a close friend of mine named Long, stands up.

"Hold up, hold up. You're telling me..." and proceeds to pick the medic appart. A mechanic is standing there, saying, "No. This is how you secure a sucking chest wound. No, this is how you apply a field dressing. NO, this is how you evaluate a casualty." The Senior NCO, Staff Sergeant Williamson, throws his hands up, screams something along the lines of "What the Fuck!", and walks out. The platoon is walking outside the TMC (Medical Company, like a Hospital) , after getting their shots. There is a huge-fucking-hole in the ground, which the platoon proceeds to walk around. Penhale falls right in. Had that been a landmine, the whole platoon would be dead. And a landmine is tiny, this was a MANHOLE. While teaching this first aid class, Penhale would say, "If you aren't getting shot at, you can do this, you can do that." Once again, the mechanic stands up.. "Penhale... All I've heard you say is, 'If you aren't getting shot at...' What the fuck are you going to do when WE ARE getting shot at!!!"

The platoon has nicknamed the medic DeAth.

The NBC training is being read to them out of the book. Once again, the mechanic stands up, and says, "Look, Smith (me) just gave me this class. This is what he told us to do." He tells me what they are being told, and all I can do is be disgusted. They are being taught from a book. The book teaches you how to survive by the numbers. I teach YOU how to survive.

The Platoon Leader, 1st Lieutenant Hadley, is scared. She knows the NBC training is substandard. She knows they need to take me with them when they deploy, they know I'm a killer. They know Penhale is going to get them killed. He can't walk without falling in a hole, how the fuck will he save lives under fire? The morale has hit the floor. They are scared. They are being sent into combat with a dirtbag medic, no NBC expert on hand (me), into a heavy combat zone, with 21 soldiers and 2 support.

40% casualties predicted in the first group. I am told to be ready to roll, under the table of course. The soldiers just left for leave, for 12 days in the states, with their families. Long almost got into a fight with DeAth. Penhale has fallen in love with a filipino hooker, and originally opted to go see her in the Phillipines when he went on leave. That went over real well with the platoon.

"You're telling me you just told your whole family to fuck off over a hooker! Are you fucking serious! You're going to go see a hooker that doesn't know you, instead of going to see your family. The leave is for your family, not you. If you don't even give a fuck about your family, what the fuck are you going to do when we start dying in the desert!"

DeAth changed his mind now. It's amazing someone had to tell him he should go see his family, instead of a hooker that came to Korea to marry a G.I. in the first place.

This is the preparation they are giving my friends, as they roll into the desert, where many won't return.

She always sits next to me in my creative writing lecture; today was no exception. We met beforehand, and I snuck glances at her when I wasn't loudly defending performance poetry and Tom Waits. She put lipgloss on, and I noted it in the way I noted everything in class: a possible detail for a story, full of meanings and associations. In the story, it would be incredibly attractive, and have some resonance later.

She has the tutorial before mine; directly after the lecture in a seperate classroom. Two hours after I saw her last I sat down with my back to the door and waited for class to start. Glancing down, I saw a small tin of lipgloss.

~~

Dolliver House was where I lived when that node was written; "Geek Hall" was where I felt excluded for not being good enough at Counter-Strike; Neuromantic was the ponytailed guy who lived next door to me and seemed nicer then all the rest. I remember him being in one of my classes; greeting me a few times; smiling. Little things, but when you're an anti-social literature freak living in a 9 foot box with a kid who dosen't own a shirt without a nasty slogan and who spends his free time practicing jumping sniper shots in Counter-Strike (until he got addicted to Dark Age of Camelot, but that's another story), a few smiles are enough. Thus, I'm not hurt by the line where a shout-out is given to "geek house" and I am not included. I never really played well with the rest; I like Videogamers, but I'm not that great. Still, its strange how these things resonate, how this database preserves, unknowingly, a bit of three years ago.

How would things have changed if I'd seen Will checking E2 on a public terminal and asked, in my obnoxious way, what he was looking at (i'd hang out on the edges of the group, watching Flash movies and pretending to be accepted)? If he'd told me, and I found this place three years earlier?

I would have gotten less work done, but there would be more nodes on Hamlet and Dante's Divine Comedy.

~~~~~~

I did my first work as a typist today. Misssed a showing of Metropolis in class to transcribe a focus group meeting. It was easy work (i'm typing this at about 90wpms) and good money; I'd write about it in more detail but I don't want to disclose anything that may, however indirectly, jeopardize my part-time position.

Fran McLachlan stood in the center of the midway holding her five-year-old son's hand and trying not to think about the way her life had gone wrong.

"Mommy," Eric said, "what's wrong?"

The massive bruises on his cheek and jaw looked far less discolored and painful today. If only she could say the same for her own abrasions--but, after all, wasn't that why God created makeup and Tylenol?

"Mommy?"

"Wha--? Oh, I'm sorry, hon. What did you say?"

"Did that lady say something bad to you?"

"No, hon, she didn't."

"Then how come you look so sad?" He clutched his balloon-doll as if his very life depended on it.

Oh, Christ! How could she answer that question honestly now, after what the woman had shown her? How could she tell her son--the only good thing she had--that she was thinking about abandoning him on a fairgrounds nearly a hundred miles from home because of a palm-reading?

You didn't give her a definite answer, Fran thought. The group's not going to head back to the shelter for another hour, you can at least make this time count. You can make sure he has so much fun that nothing will ever taint the memory for him, ever.

God, Eric, do you know how much I love you?

"Hey, you," she said, tugging on his hand and smiling.

"Hey, you!" he replied, grinning.

"We'll have to, uh, to be leaving soon, so what say until then we do whatever you want?"

"Really?"

"Uh-huh. You pick."

"Then I wanna go on the merry-go-round."

This surprised her. "Again? We've been on it three times today."

"But you laughed when the tiger started bouncing and it wasn't a pretend-laugh like all the other ladies. I liked it."

Oh for the love of God, kiddo--why'd you have to go and say something like that?

Fran kissed her son's cheek and told herself she would not start crying.

"Okay," she whispered. "The merry-go-round--and then maybe we'll meet your new friend and get some hot dogs."

"Hot dogs!" shouted Eric, dragging her down the midway, his balloon-doll thrust in front of him as if it were flying.

For a moment there, Fran could've sworn that her son's face actually shone with happiness.

Untainted. As childhood happiness should be.

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