Monday, August 17, 2009

"Never Apologize, Never Explain"*

*Widely quoted, and most often attributed to John Wayne, in the 1949 film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, written by Frank S. Nugent and Laurence Stallings. The line is spoken by The Duke and the exact quote is "Never apologize and never explain--it's a sign of weakness." But there are many others who have used the line, and its original source remains debatable. Being the anal-retentive pedant that we ARE, we just had to get that out of the way right up front. But, like Lucy when confronted by Ricky, I feel a lil bit o' "splainin" is in order about Saturday's post. There will be no apologizing, however.

First: It was a lil over three and a half years ago when I went on the record with this statement:

"The Second Mrs. Pennington almost literally saved my life. I was headed down a bad road when I met this woman; she turned me around and is, in large part, responsible for who I became and who I am today."

That's a true fact. Those anecdotes of mine in Saturday's post that illustrated blatantly illegal and/or immoral behavior (immoral in the Judeo-Christian sense, more about which below) happened before I committed to TSMP, for the most part… the one glaring exception being The Great European Divorce Tour of 1999. The Divorce Tour seemed like a good ideer at the time (like most foolhardy adventures) and it was… in large part. I wasn't in anything like my right mind after all that crap went down and it was good to get away… "clear the mind," "lose yourself," all that psychobabble stuff. It was, however, arguably bad judgment to think I could re-live some of the seamier aspects of my misspent youth.

The foregoing does NOT include hanging out in A-Dam's coffee shops, by the way. That was as enjoyable as it ever was, but only for the conversation that was in it, yanno? (tongue, meet cheek... cheek, tongue) The other salient fact is that most of life is spent in the vertical rather than the horizontal plane. And I had never seen Prague before… or drank a Budvar. Make that many Budvars, and other interesting brews. The Czechs know beer. And now I do, too... as well as knowing many other things about that lovely city.
Second: About that Judeo-Christian morality thing, or more specifically the Judeo-Christian sexual mores we Americans… and to a much lesser extent, other Western cultures… live under and much more specifically, the practice of contracting for sexual services. I'm not going to do a deep-dive here as I'm basically a shallow person* and this sorta thing just ain't my style… unless it's over a few beers and/or single-malts, where there can be an extended and frank exchange of opinion… but most certainly not on a blog. Suffice it to say other cultures have radically different views on this subject.

Just as an example, there were reputedly over 400 brothels in Chiang Mai, Thailand when I went TDY there back in the mid-'70s. This, in a town of approximately 100,000 people at the time… and Chiang Mai wasn't a "sex tourism" destination. Speaking of "tourism," I don't think anyone has even attempted to count the number of whorehouses in Bangkok. Or Taipei. Or Manila. OTOH, I'm sure the Dutch authorities know exactly how many houses of ill repute there are in Amsterdam, given such establishments are licensed by the gub'mint there… and inspected, too. Not a bad idea… that inspection thing (Can you say "Nevada?").

My basic point is the old "when in Rome" argument, with only one caveat: all activities would be between consenting adults… with acute and forceful emphasis on the last two words.

So much for the splainin'.

* my favorite Woody Allen movie quote, evah. It's become a watch-phrase for life in these parts.


  1. Buck,
    I am coming to this discussion late. I fondly revel in the past, the fun and hard times in the Navy, which really forged what is now my personality due to joining so young (I was 16 when I enlisted, delayed entry but was 17 years 2 months 6 days when I reported to boot camp in San Diego). Also, since leaving the Navy I worked the next 30 or so years in the same general business, staying in that environment. Besides many near death experiences at work on the Flight Deck of two different Carriers (and I don’t care what the Discovery Channels says about Crab Fishing, try catching 50,000 pound aircraft all day long if you want to talk about the Deadliest Jobs on earth) there were many experience ashore that cannot be topped, some straight up, some under the influence of a sprit or two (or more). And yes, having been in Italy, France, Spain and England (during the 70’s) where the ‘contracting for services’ was different and exciting it was really unnerving (if not intimidating), yes, I confess to partaking of such ‘services’. But that was all last century anyway and the two TACAN rule applies. Like you my current (and only thus far) wife has “saved” me. While I was not on a destructive bent or anything like that she has served (since 1982) to ground me in the mundane (sorry wife Pattie, but its true). You must however get me to tell the story of the Missing Cast and Lost Memory Affair, a mystery to this day I am ashamed to say (a full set of my underwear and two medical casts having been lost in the famous Mama Rosa’s House in Naples).

    Confession is good for the soul. I am not sure who said that but it may be appropriate in this series of Posts.

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  2. I really enjoyed the memories/stories and you made me smile. Sure the morality thing has it's place. It keeps some checks and balances in place, makes us question consider and ever regret sometimes. I know it has me. I like that you mention it even with the understandable fun you had. I mean seriously look at what goes on now in that same region and more widely in our culture. It's all gone beserk and noone questions anything anymore. I loved the honesty here aswell as the humour Buck, especially since that must have been painful. And it was seriously nice to hear you mention the woman who "saved" you. Life throws us some curveballs and we are lucky to recover from them sometimes.

    Prague is great by the way. Been a few times for work. Now I understand where your beer choice comes from!

  3. For whatever it’s worth Buck, I’m not in a position to judge, having been a Marine in the early 80’s stationed in Okinawa and Korea. Oh, the stories…that I will never tell over on the internet. Now if I ever find myself in the vicinity of a certain motor home park in Portales, New Mexico…I’ll bring the scotch.

    Context is key and unfortunately probably unattainable with a few paragraphs of a blog post. It’s rather like looking thru a telescope and trying to grasp the number of galaxies in the universe, ya’ just can’t comprehend it all.

  4. The great loves always come close to killing us when they leave - save us, kill us - it's a wonder a person can still breathe properly after serious passion.

    You know where I stand on the whole sex for hire issue, if an adult wants to peddle their ass, let them.

    I know, it's full of bad stuff, it's not a great life for many involved, etc. Some people don't have other options to earn a living or they enjoy the life. Live and let live. Consenting Adults Only are the big keywords in any discussion on prostitution.

  5. Thank you all, and most especially you ladies, Alison and Daphne. I'm not diminishing the input from tim and Jimmy, but you guys can relate in a manner the women can't possibly. It's really one of those "ya hadda be there" things.

  6. As a former sailor, you certainly won't get any judgement from me, Buck. Live your life as you see fit.

    Remember, those who matter won't mind, and those who mind don't matter.

  7. Y'all need to count yourselves as ain't the same military these days. But I'm sure you already knew that.

    Of course, I'm sure that deploying to the desert instead of SEA hasn't helped things, but something tells me even if we were going on R&R in Bangkok instead of Qatar, the brass still wouldn't take too kindly to these shenanigans you old timers (;-)) seem to be alluding to.

  8. BR: I've swapped war (sea?) stories in this space with sailors... and they are remarkably similar. Go figure. :D

    Mike sez: Y'all need to count yourselves as ain't the same military these days. But I'm sure you already knew that.

    Whenever SN1 and I get together and discuss Things Air Force I thank my lucky stars I was in when I was in. I'm certain I wouldn't fit in Today's Modern Air Force with the sorta attitude I had in the way-back.

  9. Allison said it well. It is fun/interesting to read your memories (JimmyT needs his own blog so we can read more of his memories). When looking back, these experiences seem romantic, fun and wild – possibly it was the “danger” of the unknown and the unlawful (in our society) that made these experiences even more exciting. It seems a bit like drugs – you can dabble in them, you can have some good times, but you have to be careful not to get sucked in and die. For “many,” things worked out well - some married their lady friends, some were saved by wives, etc. But for another “many,” I would bet things did not go well – for the women or the men. As Mike pointed out, things have changed in the military, and I would bet there were reasons for that change, but delving in to the seedy side was not your purpose. I’m glad you mentioned TSMP. You know I have a hard time liking TSMP for the hurt she caused, yet I am thankful for her saving graces in your life. I would bet having two fine sons was "saving" also.

  10. Lou: I agree with ya to the MAX about Jimmy T needing a blog! The man has GREAT stories!

    As for your other points... I'm generally in agreement. You probably realize I have a Libertarian POV when it comes to drugs, there's that. And then there's drugs and there are DRUGS. I never touched anything with soul-killing potential (crack, heroin, most all barbiturates) and I've never understood the attraction there. But I can get wound up on this subject at the drop of a hat... so I'll stop now.

    I don't agree as much with the changes in today's military, nor did my father agree with the changes that were happening in MY Air Force. My father came from the "work hard, party hard" school of thought, and my Air Force was a lot like his in that regard. Today's military is quite different and not better, IMHO.

    As far as saving graces go... you hit the nail on the head about TSMP and the boys.

  11. virgil xenophon18 August, 2009 18:28


    Late to the party here. My "career" in the AF was a lot shorter than yours, but I managed to get around and will echo others here and over at Lex's when we discuss such things as we were doing about O-Clubs that it DEFINITELY is NOT the old Air Force. I wouldn't have lasted 6 months in today's Air Force. Hell, to give but one example, my roommate in plt tng got TWO DUIs during the program (was back in "66 mind you) and couldn't drive on base or off--I had to give him a ride to graduation ceremony! Today that would be a FAIL event--would have been kicked out of the program, prob, given Art 32 Admin discharge, etc., at minimum. But the times being what they were we both went to SEA pipeline where he won two Silver Stars and a slew of DFCs, Air Medals, etc. in F-4s. going North for his hundred counters plus the couple of hundred he flew in the South, ret as an O-6. What a waste that would have been to have shit-canned him out of the service--which he most certainly would today under the neo-prohibitionist atmosphere that exists today. Thank God I got a taste of the "old days" before things went South. In fact, one of the reasons I got out--saw the hand-writing on the wall and knew myself well enough to know that if I stayed in I'd probably end up in jail or a Capt the rest of my career or get riffed and spend the last 3-yrs of 20 as an enlisted just to get the pension. It was a wise decision both for me AND for the Air Force--undoubtedly saved some future Wing Cmdr and the JAG office a TON of paperwork!

  12. VX: I really, rilly, hear ya. You should have heard some of the stories my father told of his experiences in England during the Big One. The Ol Man was VERY "old school," but Hell on Wheels when it came to the mission. I admired that -- still do.

  13. They gutted the old hard, work hard was the work hard, play computers seems to be it


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