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My Old Flame

June 20, 2015
The French Taunter defies the military industrial complex.

The French Taunter defies the military industrial complex.

“My old flame / I can’t even think of her name. / But every now and then / my thoughts go racing back again / to my old flame.” —Spike Jones and the City Slickers.
“What was her name? Manny? Moe? Jack?” — Spike Jones [with reference to the Pep Boys, tire sellers of Southern California. In fact, when Penny and I were looking to establish our first line of credit in Santa Ana, California, in 1972, I bought four VW tires from a Pep Boys outlet. From Manny. Or Moe or Jack. I simply asked the man who owned the business.]
Opus cited.
I used to use “opus cited” in the papers I wrote in high school in Dillon, Montana. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I hoped that my high school teachers, many of whom had a bachelors degree, or sometimes even a masters’ degree, would be impressed. Truth: I still don’t know what it means. I’ve got an associate degree, two bachelors degrees and one master’s level “doctor of pharmacy” degree. None of these help me with “opus cited.”
I love education, even appreciating its limitations. I enjoyed every semester. Before that they were quarters. Every course I took. They are all precious to me now. I haven’t looked at my transcript in many years although I had to submit a transcript when I applied for a commission in the Public Health Service. Almost like a military branch, but not quite. It was a uniformed branch. I’m proud to say it, because it has much in common with the US Marine Corps, a branch I belonged to for seven years. I loved working for “Uncle” Sam. I’d do it again, but I’m too old now.
Today I learned something from a young woman I work with at a pharmacy. She said she was perplexed by a Facebook friend of hers. For those of you out of the know, Facebook is a “social network” service.
She said her friend was exasperating to her because she is “so liberal!” She said her friend “despises military people!”
I was tempted to tell her that I consider myself liberal and, as a retired military person, I don’t despise military people at all! In fact, I am one!” I did not go there though because I didn’t want to defend her friend who, for all I know, really does despise military people. However, I doubt that such despising is typical of, or a prerequisite for, being a “liberal.”
The point is, tomorrow Penny and I are going to get up at 5 a.m., drive to Red Lodge, Montana, and gather with a group from the Montana Wilderness Association to hike 5 miles up and down mountain trails, gaining and losing, 1,700 feet. We’ll be sweating and drinking water before and after eating lunch. Many of the wilderness advocates will chatter and natter about the various threats to the wilderness. I think those threats are chiefly variants of drilling for natural gas or of other petroleum products. I will listen with rapt attention because I really like the company of wilderness advocates. Many of them are older than I, very cool people, and in much better physical condition. Certainly more informed than I am. Especially about matters that have to do with wilderness preservation.
We went for 5 days into the Bob Marshall Wilderness with our grandson Josiah a few years ago. The outfitter with the wonderful mules and horses was certainly no “liberal” but his bread was buttered on the side of wilderness, so his patter was definitely pro-wilderness.
At camp I mentioned to him the author of a book, “Montana, High, Wide, and Handsome,” by Joseph Kinsey Howard. The little shit of an outfitter ridiculed Joe Howard because he is often known by his first, middle, and last name.

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