In the waning days of Basic Training, in mid-December [actually, it was November 11--J.] of 1986, there came a Sunday evening when some religious-type sergeant on CQ duty ("Charge of Quarters"--he's basically handling the administrative stuff, managing the troops on guard duty, etc.) decided that since he was stuck on CQ, EVERYone had to come with him.
He wanted to go to the Christmas chorus concert being held up the hill in a local church. The entire Company (Bravo 6-2) had to suit up, form up, and march 2,000 feet so this goofball could enjoy himself. There weren't many objections aside from mine and one other guy: both of us were nonbelievers. And since all the higher-ups who didn't have duty were gone for the night, there was no one to stop it.
So we marched. At some point I started up that mental tape deck and cued up Def Leppard's "Pyromania" album. "Rock! Rock! Till You Drop" got us across the parking lot. It might have been "Too Late For Love" by the time we got to the church doors.
As we filed into the little building, we filed into the pews. My platoon ended up about three-fourths of the way back, on the left side. If I looked straight up and little to the rear, I could see the people in the balcony seats.
The minister came in to mumble some prayers. Everyone else stood up.
I stayed seated. Yeah, maybe it was "rude" (I don't think so), but it'd be hypocritical of me to stand up and go through the motions just to make everyone else happy if I don't feel the same way. I'd be lying, and lying is wrong, isn't it?
So I sat.
I sat and looked around me. There were some offended faces glaring at me from the pews behind, and looking down upon me from the balcony. I glared back and stayed put.
The choir filed in and started their gig. They made so much noise I lost my place in Def Lep's "Rock of Ages" and had to start over. For two hours they danced and sang, the audience clapped and stood and prayed and amened and glared at the asshole who wasn't playing along.
The asshole ran out of Def Leppard songs and started on John William's "Star Wars" soundtrack, from the 20th Century Fox Fanfare to the droids' walk in the desert to Luke's finding his dead aunt and uncle to being captured by the Death Star to freeing the Princess to blowing that thing and going home to everyone but Chewbacca getting a medal to the final notes of the ending titles.
If I'd had a laptop and wireless Internet, I'd have been reading Pharyngula, if it had existed in 1986.
Finally all the sectarian turmoil wound down and we lined up, formed up, and marched back to the barracks. By this time it was between 10 pm and 11 pm, and the evening was shot. A waste.
The Protection Racket
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