Although Rowdy and I are both perhaps the least scheduled people who ever walked the globe, our evenings with the boys have become nothing less than a ritual. The boys, Daddy included, play on the living room for about an hour as I cook supper. Wrestling and chase are two favorite games, but bucking bulls will always be king. They eat while I load the dishwasher and then I round up the two filthy children and pour steamy water over their soapy heads in the bathtub. As soon as everyone is washed and dried and dressed in pajamas, we pick out our bedtime story and I read to them as Ridge impatiently demands his little brother to stop leaping on the bed like a monkey and listen to Momma.
Of course, in between and during each of these nightly steps, Rowdy and I talk about whatever's on our minds. Or, I talk and he begrudgingly pauses whatever bullshit sporting event he is watching until I'm done. Last night we were discussing tomorrow's inauguration, thank God its finally here, and somehow the conversation turned to Vietnam.
Now, for those of you who don't know this, my grandfather was a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corp and served two terms in that war. To some members of my generation, Vietnam is just the part of the movie where Forest Gump gets shot in the ass. But, to me and my sister and my cousins, Vietnam hung very much over our collective childhoods like a cloud. After all, the war had only been over 5 years when I was born and my grandfather, who is know in his 70s, will always be that weathered Marine, even if it is wrapped in a soft grandfather.
Anyways, the boys were running around like the lawless banchies they are as I told Rowdy the details that surrounded my grandfather's Purple Heart. As a helicopter pilot, he was shoot down flying behind enemy lines. With a bullet through his leg, he narrowly escaped capture from the enemy, but he made it back. Even though I'm nearly 30 myself, still a bit younger than he was when he was fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia, it is hard for me to reconcile the funny old man who took me and my friends on adventurous vacations in my youth in violent combat in that time and that place.
After the brief pause for conversation, I got back on the nighttime ritual track and herded the boys to bed. We woke up this morning and the Vietnam War was far from my mind.
***And then, as I was scrambling eggs, Ridge came limping over to me and declared:
Damn, I've been shot in the leg. I was flyin' my helicopter into town to get new clothes and those Viet Cong got me."
Yeah, that's right, my four-year-old actually said Viet Cong. That's just how we roll (Oh, I think I forgot to tell you guys that I've really been working on my Urban lingo, so be looking out for that. I'm definitely gonna be whipping that shit out from time to time.)