Parade

By Sarah Gordon

October 16.04.

We had a parade today. A big fucking dog and pony show for the governor general. The old bag has the nerve to be fifteen minutes late. She wastes the country’s money on upgrading herself from first class to first class bitch and then has the nerve to be late. She thinks she’s like, queen Canada. She doesn’t know that its actually kinda hard to stand perfectly still for so long. And that its fucking hot out there when the sun’s beating down on our suits and all we wanna do is scratch our sweaty balls like the monkeys we are. We got nothing else to do when standing there except dwell on how much it sucks. Well, this one time the CO’s daughter was there ’cause he was getting an award or something, getting another plaque for the wall, and god bless her, she was wearing a skirt and sitting in such a way that we all got a nice view of her spread, little lace panties and all. But that was a rare treat. It still comes up at parties. Some of us like to think she did it on purpose and some of us like to think it was just a lovely accident. The only parade I ever really like is November 11. Here’s the thing about Remembrance Day. We’re all well turned out. But it means something, for once. Fresh haircuts. Shined boots. Pressed uniform. White gloves and a smudgeless winter sky. Blank, and pure you know? The gunshots go off so nice and clear they crack the shell right off your heart. And we’re so still we really feel the charge in those rounds, and the sound of the horn, and the pride puffing out in our chests, and the respect. Respect for ourselves and respect for the row of old vets parked across from us in their wheelchairs, plaid blankets over their legs, such skinny old legs. And then the bagpipes start up and I think we all get convinced, I mean totally convinced, for at least the space of that song, that joining the forces really meant something. That we’re important, part of a big thing, like history or something. Then we all go to the mess and get drunk on free beer and moose juice. And it gets me kinda stirred up, and I start having thoughts. Like maybe if there is a God, his voice sounds like those bagpipes. But then I remember hearing Flanagan talk about how bad the inside of those bags actually stink, with all that old spit in them. And how he threw up in there once when he drank too much at a funeral, and he still smells it waft out from time to time.

Sarah Gordon was a medic in the Canadian Armed Forces. She is currently a nursing student at University of Ottawa.

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