My dad has been sending me long letters every week since I went off to college, and in the last ten-or-so years they’ve evolved into this newsletter format with columns and pictures, and he has a small mailing list of relatives. Somewhere along the line he started doing little features and big special editions that come in manila envelopes and are ready for binding about my uncle Harry’s letters home from Korea, or my dad’s time in the Army during WWII. As we know, thanks to my father and Tom Brokaw, that was The Defining Period for an entire generation. If you understand this, and you know my father, you aren’t particularly shocked when you open a letter from him and half of it is about his grandchildren and the other half is about Adolf Hitler.
My father has a way of making it, cute, though. He talks about going through parachute training, and how everyone joked that “Geronimo!” is “Indian” for “who the hell pushed me?” And how someone posted a sign over the cadre shack during jump class that said, It’s a case of mind over matter. We don’t mind, and you don’t matter. A lot of his training took place in Japan, after the bombs were dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima; he was part of the mop-up operation, and he’s one of many who believe that dropping the bombs saved lives in the end, his in particular.
My father finally got on the Interweb last month. I can’t tell you what a breakthrough this is. I have been bugging him for years. And then he gives in, allegedly because my brother wants to do the whole chat room thing, and one of the first things he does is to Google 11th Airborne, and he clicks on a link, and he goes, Hey! I know that guy. Hey! Welcome to the 23rd century. Next thing you know, he’ll have his own blog.
Because the Internet is all about community, be you an old soldier or a lonely mom, and I’m testing its limits today by going down to L.A. to meet someone who I only know through her comments on my site. I mean, at first you go through this thing like, is this “Suzyn” just some elaborately constructed mother-of-two persona to put me at ease, but s/he’s really a stalker/kidnapper who’s going to steal Jackson out of a highchair at P.F. Chang’s? Because I don’t have any ransom money. I have, like, a nice Mac G4 computer, and it’s yours. Some Burberry pants? You want my sea glass earrings? Cause that’s about the end of my assets. But in the end I think she’s a real person because she called me from Knott’s Berry Farm, told me how bored her kids were, and gave me her husband’s cell number. So I think it’s for real, but in case I don’t update for awhile you should call the State Department because my remains will have floated halfway to El Tigre by next Thursday.