Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Morning Show

I call it the Morning Show- a group of heavily armed men (3 native languages in my vehicle of four) make the short trip to the workplace.  Two of the team keep up a constant stream of talk- crude, hilarious, insightful.  It is the kind of talk, phrased in the kind of way that paranoid feminists think all men talk, all the time.  The primary subjects are sex and violence- who they would kill and how and why. Who they would fuck and how and why.

It is like a bad script of "man talk" but it is sometimes astonishingly funny and sometimes even wise. "Explosive thigh sweat" and "That there is a rare chinchilla" are phrases that will stick with you.

Despite the scripting, neither of these men is like that. Despite the sex talk, if you catch him alone one will speak with quiet earnestness about his wife and how he would never do anything to hurt her feelings. Both have had opportunities. Neither has acted on them.

To one degree or another, everyone in the truck is experienced at violence. They tell stories of wild uncontrolled anger and flights of fantasy vengeance but in the real deal they are professional. Controlled. Cold.  They are good enough to teach it- not just teach violence, but teach control- in a country torn by perhaps millenia of war.

What brings this on, the talking role?  I'm used to wannabes who talk tough. They are mildly amusing. These are true tough guys who talk like wannabes on steroids. Are they playing out a script, something that they learned somewhere is the way talking is 'supposed to be'? And if so, where did they learn to separate their worlds from their talk?  Are they spoofing the people who try to imitate them?  Does it ease some of the tension of being good all of the time to talk bad some of the time?  Or is it just because it is funny?

So I'm a little puzzled today about the why of it, and wondering how many others would see past the words to how these men act.  "Words and actions in accord" are one of my usual signs of heart. If these mens acted like their words, I wouldn't like them. But I have seen them take risks to comfort a stranger, show compassion to people beneath the notice of most (by the social rules of this culture), and show the utmost politeness and cultural tolerance.  The tolerance was clearly a habit, too, the default value.

Only locked in the rig in the early morning do they vent like teenage boys with a radio show.  It is funny, but puzzling, too.

Sometimes you have to share what can't be shared. Years ago, I drank chichu with a reformed cannibal in the jungles of Ecuador.  In a very real way, that summed up my life at the time. I have a new summation now.


Kai Jones said...

where did they learn to separate their worlds from their talk? Are they spoofing the people who try to imitate them? Does it ease some of the tension of being good all of the time to talk bad some of the time? Or is it just because it is funny?

If it's in their brains enough to come out in speech, it might come out in action. That's my principle. It's not that I think they will, it's that I don't know where they are drawing the line in their own heads between "okay to talk about" and "okay to do."

Also, they are *practicing* being that kind of person, when they roleplay it. Why would you practice being somebody you don't aspire to be?

Steve Perry said...

Hmm. Blogger ate my post. Lemme see if I can reconstruct it:

These men are the war dogs, the guardians at the gate, the walkers on the wall. They are more comfortable in armor than in Armani, and they are there because they want to be there. Guys armed to the teeth and riding out into harm's way might go on about how good the money is, but they are happier there than pushing paper in an office. Civilization weighs heavier on them than being in the company of men where the woods are thick, the sands deep, or the waves high ...

They are volunteers who want to walk to the end of the world and peep over the edge, even though something might boil up and take their heads off.

To those of us living in civil places, they are crazy fucks.

Facing death and winning is the ultimate in control, isn't it? The biggest rush. Which goes to Rory's subsequent posting. You dance with The Reaper and survive? What else is bigger than that?

That company, men among men, the talk is apt to be more primal -- who to shoot, who to fuck, what to drink -- because the little shit isn't going to matter.

I had a buddy, LRRP, in Vietnam. Years afterward, he got into a set-to with some bikers. A big one charged across his yard to take him apart, and he pulled out a pistol and shot the guy dead.

He said he got some sympathetic phone calls. Some of his friends, who had only known him as a civilian, were aghast: Oh, you had to shoot somebody? How awful for you? Are you getting counseling? Are you able to sleep okay?

But he liked this one: "A nine? You shot him with a nine? What -- you didn't have a real gun?"

And, his favorite, from an ex-military buddy: "Biker, huh? What kind of grouping did you get?"

Different language for folks who think like this. Different attitude.

Long as there are wars, we'll need warriors, and more power to them. I'm not going out in the wilds to look for trouble myself, but I'm happy they are guarding the wall.

Stephen Grey said...

"Are they playing out a script, something that they learned somewhere is the way talking is 'supposed to be'?"

Media recursion. Tough guys imitating tough guys in movies, who were in turn imitating tough guys on several levels of abstraction-- writers', directors', actors' interpretations of how tough guys were supposed to act, themselves taking cues from media tough guys because none of them had seen the real kind...

Don't be surprised when some day soon you hear someone yell "Get to the choppah!"

Master Plan said...

Hmmm, not knowing them...what do I know?

I think in some social settings there is a type of vibe, things which are situationally appropriate but INappropriate (perhaps abundantly so) for many\most\all other situations.

So if you know you are in such a situation then you can talk in whatever way that might be. Boys in locker rooms. Girls in bathrooms. I think that the type of humor\tone\verbiage used in such situations is not to be taken out of that context.

So I'd say, just because it's funny, and, only because of the set and setting *is it* funny.

Sometimes dick'n'fart jokes are funny, watching them with my grandmother...probably less so.