This posting was originally unleashed on an unsuspecting audience almost ten months ago on June 9, 2009. It has languished in the bowels of Word Press since that time. The number of visitors the posting has drawn, for whatever reason, is unknown, but the number that bothered to rate the posting is known—one, and in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that the one vote is mine. I briefly considered commenting on the posting’s excellence, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it and remain anonymous. However, when I reread the posting I was so pleased with myself that I gave it a vote of excellence, but no one knows I did it because voters are not identified. Given its poor performance in attracting readers, voters and comments I decided to bring it out into the bright light of 2010 for the enlightenment of those that, for whatever reason, may find it in their wanderings around Word Press.
I beseech you, visitors to this posting, to leave some evidence that you were here—a footprint or a finger print or an old sock or cigarette butt or a few marijuana seeds or a burned bobby pin or a beautifully crafted joint holder—anything to show me that someone was here. Whether the story pleases or displeases you, please take the time to vote on it and leave a comment, either positive or negative. And whether you like it or hated it, tell me why your liked it or hated it—if I know why you hated it, I can change it for the better, and if you liked it I can change it by making it doubly better—or I’ll make it worse if you insist. See how that works?
The original posting follows—view it at https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/554/
In the spring of 1969 I began an extended vacation in Southeast Asia in Vietnam, one of the most beautiful countries on our planet, courtesy of the United States military with all expenses paid. My trip over was on a commercial airliner, with a brief stop on Guam. That stop was probably meant to prepare us for the sweltering heat we would soon be enjoying at Tan Son Knut air base on the outskirts of Saigon, Vietnam’s capital city, renamed as Ho Chi Minh City when Saigon and the rest of South Vietnam fell to the communist forces of North Vietnam.
My visit at Tan Son Knut was all too brief, but it lasted long enough for me to enjoy the last three months of the southern monsoon. According to our briefings, Vietnam has two distinct monsoon periods, six months in the south and six months in the north, cleverly labeled, respectively, the southern monsoon and the northern monsoon, with one beginning when the other stops. When I was transferred to Da Nang air base in the north, very much against my will, I was privileged to enjoy all six months of the northern monsoon, for a total of nine months of rain while in the country.
Monsoon, by definition, is a seasonal prevailing wind that lasts for several months. A monsoon typically includes the monsoon rainfall, a period during which a region receives the majority of its rain. On my vacation I was granted the opportunity to be drenched almost daily over a 9-month period.
I was wet every day that I spent in Vietnam, one way or the other, either drenched by rain or soaked with perspiration—one is supposed to be cooled by the evaporation of sweat, but in that climate perspiration could not evaporate because the air was already full of moisture. Shoes, boots, wallets and anything else made of leather, if left in an enclosed space for any length of time, would come alive with a solid coat of mold, looking like something in a Japanese movie on late-night television, more realistic, of course. By eight o’clock in the morning my undershirt was soaked with sweat and clung to my body like glue—I learned to not wear an undershirt, and I continue undershirt-less to this day. I also learned to wrap my wallet in plastic to keep it from imitating a Japanese horror monster.
My vacation tour of Vietnam was scheduled to last only 12 months—the thirteenth month was the result of a death in my family. I was allowed a 30-day respite from my vacation activities, but was allowed to complete my original commitment by staying an extra month on my return to Vietnam. The purpose of the thirteenth month was to make up for the break in my vacation tour—incidentally, the U. S. Air Force generously debited the 30 days from my accumulated leave time.
What a gift!
I have much more to tell about my tour of duty in Vietnam, but for this posting I’ll cover little more than the emergency 30-day leave—how it came about, and how and why and by whom it was initially denied but later authorized. I’ll try to be brief, and then return later with more details of my vacation.
Early one morning I was summoned to the office of the Red Cross representative at Da Nang to be informed of the contents of a telegram received from his counterpart in my home town. The telegram stated that my stepfather had died peacefully in his sleep, and that “… the mother is doing well and requests that the service member not return home.” That request not withstanding, I took the telegram to my Personnel Officer and requested a 30-day emergency leave in order to be with my mother to console her in her time of grief. I told him my late stepfather had held that title for 28 of my 37 years, except for a brief period during a divorce from my mother, a divorce that was soon followed by remarriage to my mother. I told the Personnel Officer that I felt that I owed my stepfather a return home because he was the only father I ever knew.
The truth of the matter? I desperately yearned to leave beautiful Vietnam, if only for a brief period, and 30 days of emergency leave was authorized in such circumstances as the death of my stepfather.
The Personnel Officer, a major, denied my request because the telegram stated quite clearly that my mother did not want me to return. My initial reaction was anger, but I calmly—well, sorta calmly—said to the major, “Sir, if my mother had requested my presence and I did not want to return, would you have ordered me to go?” He responded to my question with these exact words, uttered with strength, volume and passion:
“Sergeant, that’s insubordination!”
I considered that for a long moment and then said, “Thank you, major.” I saluted, did an about-face, left his office and the building and hotfooted it to the Non-commissioned Officer’s Club, an organization that I was a member of and a very frequent visitor to, and I was also a part-time off-duty worker—I considered the Club Manager to be a good friend.
I briefly explained the situation to him and asked if he could get a call through to my wife in San Antonio. He immediately picked up the phone and established a connection with a U. S. Navy vessel anchored off-shore from China Beach. From that ship the call went to a satellite, from that satellite to the ground somewhere in Scandinavia, then up to another satellite and from that satellite down to my home phone in San Antonio, Texas, all in a matter of minutes.
My friend handed me the phone and I heard my wife’s perfectly clear “Hello,” as distinct as if she were in the room with us. I told her not to talk, just listen and do what I was going to tell her to do. I told her to call my mother in Mississippi and tell her to go to the local Red Cross immediately and tell them that she desperately needs her son home from Vietnam, that she is suffering mightily from her recent loss and wants her son to come home because she feels he will be able to assuage her anguish and grief—and tell her that time is of the essence!
I used several unrepeatable words and phrases to emphasize the importance of the call to my mother. I told my wife to tell my mother that if she failed to convince the Red Cross to authorize my absence from helping lose our war with North Vietnam, she would never, ever, see me again or hear from me again. This was not a threat—it was a solemn promise that I intended to keep. My wife said she understood and we terminated the call. This was no time for small talk—time was of the essence!
I felt no pride in what I was doing, nor do I feel pride in it now. It was necessary and needed to be done, similar to the ultimatum given to the defenders of the Alamo when surrounded by the Mexican army: They were told, “Surrender now, or we will give no quarter.” I wanted my mother to surrender and deliver, and to understand the consequences if she failed—I would give no quarter. There was no time for deliberation, reluctance or self-recrimination—I needed action, not excuses—time was of the essence!
Early the next morning I was again called to the office of the American Red Cross, and the local representative gave me another telegram and told me to take it to the Personnel Office. Always one to comply with a direct order, I hastened my return to the office of the Personnel Officer. I was again ushered into that worthy’s office, wherein I saluted smartly, placed the telegram on his desk, stepped back and remained at attention while he read the message, a message which consisted of the things my wife told my mother to say, but without the unrepeatable words and phrases.
The major, apparently speechless, said nothing. Not a word, at least not vocally, but his face spoke volumes. He stamped the telegram APPROVED, with almost enough force to make a dent in the desk. I retrieved the approval, said “Thank you, sir,” saluted smartly and smartly pivoted 180 degrees (an about face), and went to the Administration Section to process for my return to the land of the big PX and round door knobs.
I departed Da Nang the same day on a commercial airliner, stuffed mostly with military personnel who had completed their Vietnam vacations. At the exact moment the wheels broke ground, a concerted and prolonged cheer erupted from the throats of some 200 men—I didn’t expect it and it scared the hell out of me, but I managed to join the choir, albeit somewhat belatedly.
I returned to Da Nang 30 days later to complete my tour in Vietnam—I never saw the major again, something we both can appreciate.
That’s all for now. I’ll have to get back later with more details of my vacation in Vietnam. It was one of the most memorable times in my life, a life which has, to date encompassed beau coup memorable moments.
See there? Even the word “beau coup” brings back memories of Vietnam—France occupied and fought in that country for many years. They no doubt took many mementos home with them, but also left many mementos behind when they left Vietnam, including a substantial number of Vietnamese mothers with children fathered by French soldiers. The French efforts in Vietnam were, of course, a prelude to American soldiers leaving similar mementos, probably in even more substantial numbers, of Vietnamese mothers with children fathered by American soldiers.
The plight and the beauty of those children deserve a separate posting.
I’ll get back to you later with more details.
Irregardless—correct speech, or double negative?
This posting consists of a series of comments posted to my blog in my About the King of Texas section. I consider the comments and my responses worthy of being brought into the bright light of day instead of remaining in the shadows of the comment section. My purpose is to share those brilliant interchanges with the ever-growing legions journeying to my blog, throngs—nay, multitudes—that include the brightest of the brightest—intellectuals all, erudite to the very core, whether subjects of The King of Texas or visitors from far flung regions ruled by lesser monarchs.
To view the original About the King of Texas, click here.
Comment posted by Barbara Kelley on June 13, 2009:
Dear King of Texas:
You write like Flannery O’Connor, so maybe you are the King O’Texas. I am going to delve more into this blog at a later time—you know, when I can wrap my mind around it. What do you think of the word “irregardless?”
Hi, Barbara—thanks for the comment, particularly for your comparison of my writing to that of Flannery O’Connor—I’ll accept it as a compliment, regardless of her propensity to lace her writings with grotesque characters.
I appreciate your application of an apostrophe to my title—apostrophication, so to speak. I know—apostrophication is not a word—at least it was not a word until I created it. I couldn’t find it anywhere online or offline. I should probably apply for a patent so I could draw royalties each time the word is used.
I love it—there is probably a wee bit of Irish in all of us, including our current president. And here I must give thanks and a tip of my kingly crown to Kinky Freedman, a well-known Texas resident, a successful writer and sometimes candidate (unsuccessful) for public office. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Kinky said that he would vote for that Irishman, Barak O’Bama.
As regards—or in regard to—or regarding—irregardless:
Irregardless is not a proper word, regardless of its appearance in dictionaries and regardless of its use in speeches and writings by supposedly erudite persons. An exception might be when the user is faced with an untutored audience, one that might accept its use as proper—audiences in certain southern hilly or swampy areas, for example.
You know, of course, that the prefix ir means not, and the suffix less means without, ergo the non-word irregardless contains a double negative.
Less negates regard all by itself—it needs no help from ir.
Thanks again for your visit and for your comment. Please feel free to “delve more into” my blog—I welcome your comments, whether compliments or criticisms, and I will respond to either—or both.
Comment posted by Mary Ellen Ryall on July 26, 2009:
Good morning: One day one of our officers said, “I can’t wrap my head around it right now.” I thought, what does she mean? Well, I know now. I became overloaded with projects at work and simply couldn’t take on one more responsibility. Still, I don’t appreciate this kind of expression. Why not just say, I have too much responsibility right now and can’t take on anything more at this time. Information overload is a reality in the work world now unfortunately.
Cindy Dyer is our graphic artist. She mentioned what a great writer you are. I can see you enjoy being a student of language. The world needs those who can express themselves with polish and flair. The gift of writing using eloquent language skills is fast disappearing from this world.
Comment made by Will Howard on February 14, 2020:
I just delight in your writing. Texas would be so improved if you would make Texas the focus of your wise wit frequently.
Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the comment. It’s a nice compliment, one that I cheerfully and gratefully accept, and I will in future postings strive to incorporate Texas to the greatest extent possible, whether witty or not so.
Texas is not my native state, but as the bromide goes, “I got here as soon as I could.” I arrived long ago in the past century as a lowly serf, one among many subjects in our military forces, and in the interim I have ascended to the throne—I am now The King of Texas, albeit the result of self-crowning and self-anointment. It’s important for one to note that the first word in my title is The, and that word makes me supreme, not susceptible to the actions of pretenders and contenders thirsting for my throne and fame—they can use the title A King of Texas or King of Texas or Texas’ King, etc., but none can rightfully claim to be The King of Texas, at least not as a blogger on WordPress.com.
I would like to believe that your comment was inspired purely by your having read About the King of Texas on my blog, but I have reason to suspect that the comment was perhaps tinged—tainted, so to speak—with the purpose of introducing me to your web site and its various connections.
Hey, whether true or otherwise, I have no problem with it. After reading your comment several times while blushing with sinful pride, I rushed to your site and spent a considerable amount of time rambling around it and its connections, then I bookmarked it and forwarded it to several people. And as Ahhnuld is wont to say, “I’ll be bach!”
Posted by thekingoftexas on February 17, 2010 in grammar, Humor, proper english, punctuation, Writing
Tags: American literature, apostrophe, comments, essayist, Flannery O'Connor, Humor, irish, Irishman, king, King of Texas, Kinky Friedman, Obama, patent royalties, resident, short story writer, Texas