John Steinbeck is an overrated queefsniffer and if I'm going to use the saying, I'm going to pay homage to the originator, the one, the only, the kilted legend himself, Rrrrrrrobert Buuuuuuuuuuurrrnnnnnnsssss! The line is from his poem To A Mouse way back in 1785.
Ok, back to your regularly scheduled blog post.
The Sane One and I were having a discussion a couple of days ago about what we wanted to be as children. I was a little surprised that she didn't know what her sister wanted to be when she grew up, because in my family, we all knew what the future desired professions would be. My sister wanted to be a fashion designer (which she achieved), I wanted to be an Army Ranger Captain (medically disqualified by the US Government), and my brother wanted to be an architect (didn't come anywhere close). If you told me back in third grade, when I was looking at Ft. Benning real estate listings trying to figure out where my retirement home would be, that I would be a mid forties college student trying to get my bachelor's degree, I probably would have promptly shot myself. I had created in my own mind a greater destiny for military service than Lt. Dan. And it was West Point or Bust for me. I fantasized about heroic ways to go, like jumping on a grenade to save my comrades or capturing the pillbox but receiving a mortal wound doing so. Being denied the opportunity to realize the only occupational goal that I have ever had was one of the defining moments of my life.
The reason for my conviction was that it was really one of the few things that I could control in my life. I mean, yeah, I got to choose what instrument I wanted to learn how to play, and I got to choose if I wanted to eat Puffed Wheat cereal or not eat breakfast at all. But other than that, decisions were made mostly for me. The freedom of choice was not met with open arms by my parents, who fervently hoped I would grow out of my "army" phase. I didn't. The reason why was because of an injury that I received in the orphanage in Korea. I was pushed down two flights of stairs and I broke my elbow. The way that the elbow fractured meant that it could only be set in one way, and the joint fused in a way that I don't have full extension of my right arm. Things were going great in the Army physical exam right until the point where I had to extend my arms out. And then they went very, very, very wrong. After I got rejected by the Army, I was so desperate I tried to join the Marines. Nope. The Coast Guard laughed and told me that 1) the tattoo I had on my arm was clearly temporary, and 2) the anchors were upside down, buddy. The KISS Army even turned me down. At one point, the chief orthopedic surgeon at DODMERB (Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board) sighed, put his clipboard down, and took of his glasses. He looked me straight in the eye and said "Son, the President of the United States couldn't get you into the service." Clearly he and I could not have ever predicted the arrival of the 45th President. I could totally get in now if I just write a fat check to the MAGA 2020 campaign, I suppose. But no use crying over spilt milk.
The broken arm served as a constant reminder of the life that I had before coming to the US. And now it totally shafted me out of my dream job. It felt like being Korean shafted me out of a lot of things in life. I don't think that feeling is unique to me. Many adoptees simply have to wake up and look in the mirror to see a reminder that things didn't go exactly to plan in our lives. But the parting gift of a deformed right arm was just the perfect cherry on a shit sundae. It has been made all the more bitter because apparently my right arm didn't prevent me from having an amazing rugby career. So I was physically fit enough to play on an elite level in one of the most physically demanding sports in the world, but I wasn't physically fit enough to serve my country. Even to this day, if I could turn back time, I would go back to that orphanage and stay away from all stairs. The most bittersweet moment of that event? It was my own brother who pushed me down two flights of stairs. And then, after 9/11, he joined the Army. He gets to say he served and I never can.
Holy shit, this post is getting a wee bit depressing. We should probably find something amusing out of this whole event, shouldn't we? Let me think, I can rescue this post if I try hard enough. Ok, I think I got it. Tom Cruise saved my life. No, seriously, he did. Ok, technically it was Aaron Sorkin, but Tom Cruise delivered the line that I will never forget. In the movie A Few Good Men, at the end, Lt. Caffey tells Lance Corporal Dawson "You don't need to wear a patch on your arm to have honor." But you do no need a patch on your arm to rappel out of a UH-60 Blackhawk leading a Ranger Company, fucko. Anyway, life threw me another curve ball that I had to figure out. Sometimes it feels like life really wants me to become a great curveball hitter and I'm more of a Pedro Cerrano and can only hit fastballs out of the park. Yes, fuck it, I'm throwing in a Major League reference since apparently it's a movie theme for this post. For a select few of us, and I mean a really, really, really small percentage of the world (think Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman's kids - ooooh, Derek's so topical!), life throws them fastballs. For the rest of us, life kinda looks like Sandy Koufax, arguably the greatest curveball pitcher of all time. What once felt like a huge handicap, being adopted, actually was a weird and twisted advantage to us, because we got exposed to curveballs pretty early in our lives. I've managed to hit a couple wicked curveballs out of the park in my life, and I strongly doubt I would have been able to unless I hadn't struck out so many times earlier in my life. And it could have been worse. I could have been pushed down three flights of stairs and broken both my hands. Then how would I be able to type this blog?