Monday, November 29th, 2010

There’s a television show called I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. You probably knew that already. I’m coming late to this conversation because (stop me if you’ve heard this) I don’t have cable, a dish or a digital converter box. Television used to be free when I was a lad, so I’m not going to pay for it now. Also I won’t watch programs on the interwebs until they can figure out how to get me a picture that doesn’t freeze up or pixillate and is bigger than a pack of cigarettes. Until television is free again, or the internet works all their bugs out, I am and will continue to be a television celibate.

Most of the time. If I go to a bar where there’s a television on – and what bar doesn’t have at least three, right? – I stare at it compulsively while I gum the one forkful of food I managed to get into my mouth before all my brain cells shifted to WATCHING TELEVISION! It’s the way I’m wired. And another reason I don’t want to have television in my house any more. I’m pretty sure I’d never get anything else done. Dishes would pile up in the sink. My clothes would rot in the hamper. The cats would starve. I’d forget to go to work. Okay, so there’s one good thing, anyway.

I’d even watch I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, no question about it. Shows like this make me worry less about how out of touch I am with humanity. There’s no way I could possibly be as out of touch as a woman who had another human being gestating inside her for nine months without realizing it. I’m really very grateful for them.

If you visit the web site, hit the link to the top ten reasons for not knowing you’re pregnant. Please note that these are only the top ten, the implication being that women have given more than ten reasons, possibly many more, that were not as ludicrous as the ten that made the list. Don’t feel you have to restrict yourself to them when asked. Go ahead and improvise. Here are just a few to start you off:

I thought it was a cyst or a tumor. You had what you thought was a tumor that grew and grew for months, made you physically ill and was big enough to see, but somehow it wasn’t serious enough to ask your doctor about? Were you thinking he would shrug it off? “Oh, that. People get eight-pound basketball-sized tumors all the time. Call me when you’ve got real problems.”

I used a home pregnancy test and it was negative. “Well, sure, I missed nine periods in a row, suffered heartburn that would light every house in the city of Cincinnati, and my belly stuck out far enough to set my dinner plate on it, but I got a double-blue dot when I tried one of those home pregnancy tests, so how could I be pregnant?”

I have an irregular cycle. Nine missed periods in a row is not “irregular,” it’s a freaking sign.

I was using birth control. You carried a baby for nine months. Come up with a better excuse than this.

I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant | 9:10 pm CDT
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Thursday, December 20th, 2001

… there was no way training could prepare a man for combat. Combat could only be experienced, not played at. Training was critical to getting the men into physical condition, to obey orders, to use their weapons, to work effectively with hand signals and radios, and more. It could not teach men how to lie helpless under a shower of shrapnel in a field crisscrossed by machine-gun fire. They just had to do it, and in doing it they joined a unique group of men who have experienced what the rest of us cannot imagine.

     – Stephen Ambrose, Citizen Soldiers

AFN is showing “Band of Brothers” here on Monday nights. I’ve watched quite a few episodes and have been impressed at the degree to which they can bring us as close to the reality of war as might be possible in drama. It’s very interesting to watch the direction in which producers are taking movies about WWII; even the series World At War wasn’t this gritty. The can-do spirit of the troops still comes through, but where before I watched with wonder at the GIs ingenuity and determination to get things done, I now sit and wonder, “How did they ever do that?”

One scene was typical: A fellow climbed up a tree to get a bead on a team of Germans at an 88, which looked like a great idea until he took the first shot. As he set himself to take the second shot, the tree branches all around him began to explode and fall broken to the ground from return fire … and still the GI lined up and kept shooting! How far down into your bowels to you have to look to find the gumption to keep firing, to keep moving, to press the attack when you can see and hear death and mutilation hammering the scenery all around you? Well, as Ambrose said, you just had to do it, I guess.

… around the world, the sight of a twelve-man squad of teenage boys, armed and in uniform, brought terror to people’s hearts. Whether it was a Red Army squad in Berlin, Leipzig, or Warsaw, or a German squad in Holland, or a Japanese squad in Manila, Seoul, or Beijing, that squad meant rape, pillage, looting, wanton destruction, senseless killing. But there was an exception: a squad of GIs, a sight that brought the biggest smiles you ever saw to people’s lips, and joy to their hearts. Around the world this was true, even in Germany, even – after September 1945 – in Japan. This was because GIs meant candy, cigarettes, C-rations, and freedom. America had sent the best of her young men around the world, not to conquer but to liberate, not to terrorize but to help. This was a great moment in our history.

     – Stephen Ambrose, Citizen Soldiers

Band Of Brothers | 5:42 am CDT
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