“Still ‘The World’* To Me”

Still “The World” to me,

it’s near half a century

since the proof came true.

 

  • (Not just in Th’Nam, I suspect: though I do not know if others call their homeland “The World” when they are off fighting somewhere else, but in the 1960s and later for Vietnam veterans, both combat and Rear Echelon (MFers) Remington Raiders – typists and supply clerks and such) The United States and its Territories and else all were collectively called “The World” without regard to the tender sensibilities of those for whom we allegedly were fighting.  Even Gooners, Gooks, Slant-eyes, Zips, Dinks and worse epithets were grist for the mill.  When one Marine general in the local in-country weekly rag “Sea Tiger” which is what Marine translates to in the local language wrote a column trying to point out the wrong being done by calling Gooners by the terrible name of Gooks – as had been USMC practice in both Korea and earlier in World War II, few if any mentioned the incongruity in the general’s language.  The Land of The Great PX – post exchange – was another term for CONUS – continental United States.  Chauvinism is a military watchword.  Working hard to dehumanize an enemy is necessary to get generally gentle Americans of whatever hue, condition or persuasion to kill some stranger just because he – or she – was angered by you turning their younger brothers into pimps and thieves and their younger sisters into whores and their mothers and aunts into servants and drudges and you camped without permission in their back yards, shot off your guns at any provocations or none and you had not the courtesy to call them “Little People,” or “Little Brown Brothers” if they happened to appear to be on “your” side.  What’s the difference between gook and Little People? Got me.  But I have been Cracker, Nerd, Jock, Bully, Buffoon, Stooge, Killer, Beast, Honkie, Chuck, Whale Shit, girls, people, slime, scum, and even a few less-nice words myself – and most of that coming from my superiors to me.  And I ain’t never rioted, sucker-punched, tossed piss or even hit someone with a spike-treated baseball bat.  Shot at? Yep. Both ways. Killed. Uh-huh.  Me? Almost.  The Other guy? Yup.  But none-dat in The World. You Dig?)

“He Played ‘White Receiver*’ Then”

Ol’e Cris Collinsworth,

played “White Receiver” those days

and made a “Living.”

 

  • (National Football League television color-analyst for Sunday Night Football – after a long stint on Monday Nights on ABC – was a high school wishbone quarterback with a good arm but sparely used.  His freshman year at The University of Florida he tied a NCAA record with a 99-yard “possible” touchdown pass in his first game.  That yardage was – and is – the maximum allowable for a TD pass or run from scrimmage.  Later that year he switched to offensive wide receiver.  Those of us in North Brevard County – Titusville and Mims, Florida – began calling him a White Receiver by his junior and senior years at UF and then more commonly while playing a stellar career for the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL.  He made a living of taking the inside route, either short or long, of “squaring in” over the crowded middle and lasted long enough to become a fan favorite.  His steadily improving work as a NFL analyst and later his professional and informative work as an Olympic commentator prove his path from The Law to the Television Court of Public Appeal a standout choice.  He earned every bit of his acclaim.  When I was covering his local high school – Astronaut High – I often saw him leaving doctors’ offices after practice – be it football, basketball, track & field or his senior year baseball so he could play with his pals and his younger brother Gregg – with a bucket, mop, cleaning supplies and equipment and stuffing all that into the hatchback of his Pinto that he then drove off to Gainesville and Glory.  He then began signing his autographs not with his High School and later College Number “21” but “80” as a Bengal.  His Gator teammates had already given him the moniker “Cadillac.”  And he was that, too.)