When you're done with Basic Training, your next stop is AIT--Advanced Individual Training--where you learn the skills of your specialty. In my case, it was a Signal Corps (communications) job, 31N or Patch Panel Operator.
I was one of only two 31N students in the barracks building; most of the guys in my 8-man dorm were 31M radio operators, but we only ever had 7 guys.
One of them was sane for the first two weeks...but then the Dear John letter arrived that turned him into Private Preacher. His girlfriend left him for someone else. Pvt. Preacher melted down and found religion and in the grand tradition of religion-finders he wanted the rest of us--the entire Army base--to find it, too.
I wasn't digging, which made me into Pvt. Preacher's project. He couldn't understand how I could fail to be enthralled by the great sales pitches, impressed by the promise of Life Eternal, and all that. I patiently explained each time that I didn't believe in that stuff, and had the dog tags to prove it (granted, the Army in its wisdom only authorized me to be NO REL PREF, instead of ATHEIST, which is kind of close but not really accurate...like many other government situations).
So Pvt. Preacher rebuked me each time, only to come back for another go.
Then I discovered Preacher's kryptonite.
I'd picked up a tape of Twisted Sister's Stay Hungry album (1984), the one with "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock," which were still getting pretty heavy airplay in early 1987.
Not a bad album--but that one golden track, the one that made the Preacher scurry around, was "Burn in Hell."
He tried several times to get me into deep philosophical discussions over this one song. DEEP?! Twisted Sister, deep?! Bahahahahahahaaaaaaaa! Thoughtful, maybe, but not deep.
"Aren't you afraid you're gonna go to hell, listening to that?"
He couldn't understand the song's message even after I pulled out the lyrics and read them to him. Sad:
You can't believe all the things I've done wrong in my lifeThat looks like a cautionary tale to me, not a "Hey, come join me, let's eat some Christian baby BBQ and piss in the holy water fountain!"
Without even trying I've lived on the edge of a knife
Well, I've played with fire, but I don't want to get myself burned
To thine own self be true, so I think that it's time for a turn
Before I burn in hell
Oh, burn in hell
Take a good look in your heart, tell me what do you see?
It's black and it's dark, now is that how you want it to be?
It's up to you, what you do will decide your own fate
Make your choice now for tomorrow may be far too late
After a few weeks, Pvt. Preacher gave up on his mission to convert me, rebuked me a final time, and moved on to annoy other people. I still get a chuckle out of the song.
Kind of a pity, though, that Marilyn Manson wasn't scaring fundies yet.