The 5 Nations that (Might) Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

Five years post the zombie apocalypse, countries we haven’t called countries, will be leading the ashes. For my criteria, I first tried to think about the nations, or rather regions, would have the greatest strategic advantages against a walking horde of the undead. The greatest of these were geographic. I went into greater detail on that in my answer to What would be the worst and best possible types of places to live in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse? There, I determined that if you had to be stuck anywhere, the best place to be would an island, very far removed from any floaters seeking to undo your happy existence.

After geography, I looked at overall population. A strong enough population will have to exist with which to provide crucial services after import, export systems collapse. This was followed by military capacity and the potential for armed security. This is an obvious boon to any survivors, providing the capability to stay grounded, and eventually even project outward, re-securing territory from the hordes or even rescuing survivors. After this is perhaps the most important, food security. Food and water independence will be vital to survive, even if the zombies aren’t fighting to take what you already have.

That said, I’ve intentionally ignored several extreme examples of several tiny island nations, because they are so small that they simply aren’t interesting enough to talk about. One day the radios stopped working after a big commotion and then no more ships… ever. For example, small communities like the hundreds of tiny islands surrounding the main islands of Indonesia, won’t experience any of the devastation wrought on their home islands. At best, they will see a relative explosion in refugees, but will likely be unchanged. Micronations like Tuvalu, Nauru, the Falkland Islands, or Tristan, literally the most isolated island on the planet, are just too boring to talk about. Thousands of islands exist that together don’t equal a population of more than a few million people. They have no long term significance as they will never be able to help create a world fit for humanity after the Age of the Undead. The best they may do is one day recreate the double outrigger and colonize a few more islands. 10,000 years from now, they might be able to colonize the mainland again… having completely forgotten the most historic event in the history of humanity – it’s destruction. That said, they might go completely unaffected by the calamity, but because they were so insignificant to begin with, I’m just not going to talk about places like Tristan Island anymore, but focus on places that might actually be meaningful after the apocalypse.


5) The Democratic Republic of Puerto Rico

  • Population: 3.548 million (2014)
  • Military: Reliant on US, but consists of high retired veteran population and several large facilities capable of refitting.
  • Food Security: Reliant on imports

Currently a territory of the United States, assuming the effective destruction of the continental superpower giant, Puerto Rico would no doubt seek independence with haste. Who they would declare independence to, won’t really matter, as everyone will have bigger problems than worrying about it. Surrounded by water, the island state is guarded by numerous high cliffs, which have already been fortified by a history of military significance to the Caribbean. The island nation will be able to hold it’s own from both the random zombie caught adrift, or the horde of American, Central American, and South American refugees the tiny island will likely be pushing away.

Add to this the presence of a more than 2000 acre former naval base on the island. Roosevelt Roads provides the means for the Puerto Ricans to create a last refuge for stranded American Naval vessels searching for a secure port. Given this, Puerto Rico may soon find itself the inheritor of the Atlantic fleet. Following this, the new Nation state may find itself with the power and influence to leverage strength for the imports it will soon be desperate for by becoming a leading naval power.

Where Puerto Rico fails is in production of food. The island can support much more than it is currently producing, but given it’s near future calamity… it’s going to need a lot more.

Agriculture constitutes about $808 million US$ or about 0.8% of the island’s gross domestic product (GDP). [44] However, Puerto Rico imports 85% of its food even though most of the land is fertile. Only a mere 6% is arable; a fact that poses a direct threat to Puerto Rico’s food security. [45][46]

After initial growing pains, and once resolving bids for power among the surviving islands of the Caribbean the country stands a good chance of not just surviving, but thriving in the post apocalypse new era.

4) Iceland

  • Population: 323,002
  • Military: Military consists of less than a thousand members of the Icelandic Coast Guard
  • Food Security: Wealth of agricultural surpluses

Iceland ranks low on the list for several critical lapses in its Zombie Preparedness Plan, but will able to leverage certain advantages few other nations can.

First, Iceland is a relatively barren place to live. 78% of the island is unfit for farming and agriculture, and of the rest, only about 1% is actually used. Most of this space is used for feed crops such as hey, and the rest for potato and other subsistence foods.

Militarily, the island has nothing to brag about. Geopolitically, it is centered in a part of the North Atlantic so far north that it has little strategic value to anyone. For many years, the only military presence was that of the US military, tasked with being the sole defense force for the tiny country. After 2006, the US forces left, leaving Iceland with no real projection power at all. What remains is a coast guard, consisting of around a few hundred people, juggling three ships and four aircraft.

Iceland is very far from any populated regions, like the UK and Scandinavia. Crossing the freezing waters of the North Atlantic won’t be easy for even hardy survivors, and the few ships capable of making the voyage will be few enough that the tiny Coast Guard Forces may possibly be able to manage the inflow of refugees.

The refugees, as well as their boats and planes, will serve well the underpopulated island by provided much needed labor to fill the needs they are very quickly going to have. But with every new soul, a mounting problem is going to become more evident, a theme we will see more and more, not enough food.

Iceland, however, does have something that most other nations don’t. It is capable of harnessing vast amounts of the Earth’s geothermal energy to heat its homes and provide power. This will help make up for the small national population, but also provide something few other surviving populations will have, a valuable and rare commodity resource. Five years down the line, the world is going to be desperate for power, as few means exist for coal, nuclear, and there is no where left to produce the vast manufacturing structure required to build solar and wind power, nor repair the massively complex offshore oil rigs. Iceland’s survival depends on harnessing and communicating this power, as it will provide the economic power to make Iceland one of the world’s most valuable exporters.

3) Panama

  • Population: 3.9 million
  • Military: No military, but 12,000 members of the Panamanian Public Forces
  • Food Security: Wealth of agricultural surpluses

Panama is the sole exception to the island rule of zombie survival. That is because of its incredibly unique geography. Panama, though technically forming the narrow land bridge between North and South America, is effectively an island. The thick jungle and high mountains mentioned in previous sections describe why never in history has a major land invasion involved walking troops from either North or South of Panama and into the neighboring continent. The nation is just too hostile to land traffic. This has been traditionally very bad for Panama, isolating it between impossibly large and wealthy landmasses, a wall rather than a road. Of course, one day a zombie apocalypse happens and what was once its greatest weakness, is now the nation’s greatest strength – a geography hostile to foot traffic.

For survivability, the Panamanians hold food exports as a major industry. From fish to fruit, the country will be able to care for its own with ample resources while defenders are able to hold back the few walkers at the periphery until, eventually, Panama can play a major role in reconnecting the shattered world via its famous canal.

It’s greatest weakness, however, is that the country lacks any formal military. Panama is the second country in Latin America (the other being Costa Rica) to permanently abolish standing armies. All that remains is a 12,000 strong members of the Panamanian Public Forces. This para-military group lives on standby for civil disturbances and general policing. They will be completely unequipped to handle zombies who behave much differently than a peaceful protest no one wants to turn into something bigger. If only that were all that stood between the Panamanians and the oblivion, then that wouldn’t be enough, but adding in the natural boundaries of both inhospitable jungle and impassable mountains, along with the advantage of how truly few people would be required to defend the two narrow borders, and we can begin to see why they would survive where others wouldn’t.

2) New Zealand

  • Population: 4.471 million
  • Military: 11,440
  • Food Security: Wealth of agricultural surpluses

New Zealand is a large island chain of high mountains, defensible valleys and a stable population and economy. Perhaps its greatest advantage, at least for this question, is its isolation. Though most maps place New Zealand relatively near Australia, in truth, nearly all of the Continental United States could fit between them. New Zealand is alone in void of the blue. Normally, this would be a bad thing, but zombies change things. It is so far out that it poses little risk from floating zombies drifting about, nor does it suffer a great risk of refugees overwhelming the island, some which may even be infected. Once planes stop flying, travel by boat will allow anyone showing unusual signs such as necrotizing fasciitis or spontaneous fits of cannibalism will be vetted and done away with long before reaching port in Queensland.

The active duty military is nothing to brag about, but high mountains also make for defensible terrain. Whether facing invasion from the dead or whoever else is left, a New Zealand Defense Force would have the means to hold up years fighting whatever comes from the sea.

Perhaps most importantly of all, the country has a large food surplus, taking in over 14.8 billion dollars in agricultural exports. This is the true saving grace of New Zealand. Other nations may survive the zombies, but they won’t survive the hunger. New Zealand will survive both, and in fact, may become one of the wealthiest nations on the planet very, very soon, as they supply sustenance to the rest of the world’s small island survivors deeply lacking in basic nutrition.


Noteworthy Mentions:

The Japanese State of Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the northern most island in the Japanese Island chain. While still posting a large and modern population, it is centered in with high mountains and cold winters. It is however, very distant from the more populated islands to the South, and since it is not part of the same land mass, will see refugee traffic required to pass through the whole of Japan before reaching Hokkaido. The military tradition of Japan will also see use as they defend themselves from the horde of Japan, not only of zombies, but refugees no doubt pouring over over from lower Japan, the Koreas, and even China and Southeast Asia. These refugees will serve as the greatest obstacle to Hokkaido’s Japanese sanctuary from the horde. Given the billions of people who may seek shelter there, it may be a distinct possibility that they will prove too much.

Madagascar

I’d love to say that Madagascar would do well. It has a large population, good terrain and is an island nation. There are two reason I don’t see it doing well for this question. First, one problem it faces is the same that it has in this world already. It is a poor nation with inadequate government. That means that the government isn’t quick or efficient at responding to major events. Assuming that the crowded island nation doesn’t succumb to the zombie horde itself, the other horde it will have to deal with will be coming from Mainland Africa. This will be Madagascar’s second major problem. When refugees begin flooding in from all across every part of the continent through the relatively narrow Mozambique Strait, that will be too much for the overwhelmed government. I see starvation and chaos, and that is if there are no walking dead.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a relatively modern place. It even boasts a fairly large military, relative to its small landmass. It even has land to grow crops, and supply its people. What does it have against it? If you’ve caught on to the pattern of the last two… it’s neighbor, the second most populous nation on the planet.

As well prepared as a tiny state might be, no nation on Earth will be prepared to suddenly accept the fleeing mass of a country of over 1 billion people. Whether they manage to cross the narrow and partially submerged land bridge connecting the two bodies, or through thousands of rafts floating across the sea, Sri Lanka will, in a matter of days, be inundated with millions more than the tiny island can support and more than the government can manage. In the end, I didn’t add them because of how well they would do, but how every clearly they would spell the exception to the rule of the safety of the tropical island, if everything else is stacked up against you.


Finally, the nation which will do the best following a zombie apocolypse, one of the few who may actually see an increase in power and influence in the future to come, isn’t a nation at all today, but would quickly become one once the end becomes a reality for everyone else. That nation is…

1) The Independent Hawaiian State

Population: 1.42 million (2014)

Military: Very large military population and immense US Naval assets.

Food Security: High food producer, but also heavily reliant on food inshipment.[1]

The nation of Hawaii boasts many natural barriers to a zombie plague. Surrounded on all sides by thousands of miles of ocean, Hawaii’s greatest defense is the great blue barrier of the Pacific Ocean. Any zombie lucky enough to accidentally drift in the wrong direction for such a long period of time will be cursed with the ravages of coarse salt water, and months of decay as its body dissolves into the sea.

Should it be possible for Hawaii to fall victim to one of the blighted, the mountainous isles lend themselves well to defense against the undead.

In the unlikely event, the chain even has the extraordinary fortune of escape, where all or most of the survivors can quickly evacuate one island by either air or sea, both safe from zombie interruption, to a clear island not far away. This provides time for survivors to be organized, defenses to be manned, and a means for the retaking of any lost island in the chain.

The survivors of Hawaii, however, will face a different battle than most of the world. Their struggle will mostly be an effort to provide a balanced diet. The island state is a major food producer for many various staple fruits, vegetables, and meats, as well as sugar. It’s agriculture, however, is geared toward specialty items and they have to rely on imports for the difference. Early in the apocalypse, Hawaii will face the singular difficulty of having an overabundance of certain foods, while being completely lacking in other nutritional requirements. There are much worse states to be in, but the state will require some time to readjust their agriculture to a structure more geared toward food independence.

Given that, the key factor for the survival of Hawaii is its other great asset of pre-apocalypse strategic importance as an important naval installation. Hawaii bases afforded the United States Navy central staging points for seaborne operations overseeing half the planet. Following the fall of continental bases, most ships out to sea will have little else but to set sale for the last operational command in the United States Navy. Given the overwhelming strength of the US Navy today, commanding more Super Aircraft carriers than the rest of the world combined, Hawaii will not only be able to survive, but be transformed into overwhelmingly powerful Pacific hegemon. Given the number of naval ships and Marines stationed on Hawaii, it will serve not only as the greatest source of internal security, but be one of the only remaining nations capable of force projection, and in time, be the leading force in reclaiming earth from the Zombie horde.

What are the Best and Worst Places to Live in a Zombie Apocalypse

I was researching for an answer to the question What would be the worst and best possible types of places to live in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse? and in my quest to figure out the places that would do the best, I wanted to think first about the places that would do the worst. My first goal was to think about the nations, or more accurately, the regions, that would offer the greatest inherent strategic advantages against a walking horde of the undead, either in slowing them down or aiding the defenders and survivors. As with military strategies, the greatest factor is always geographic. The rest of this list evaluates the most common geographic regions of the planet and their potential as either safe havens or death traps.

The first place we have to start is always the, highly urban centers.

We are just going to brush past the obvious. Ravenous monsters running down streets grabbing and biting everyone in an exponential decline of madness. Crowded cities are zombie all you can eat buffets.

Disregarding the crowded cities’ inherent weakness to viral infection, particularly the sort of infections that make their hosts into auto-ambulatory, semi-sentient, predatory cannibals, cities are also highly reliant on imports, producing almost none of the basic requirements to maintain themselves on their own. Given a general collapse of civilization, and the arteries of fresh produce and products, these city centers would be left void as much by desertion, as by the zombie hordes. This will end life as we know it for metropolitan Europe, the United States East and West seaboard, China, India, densely packed islands like Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, much of Central America, as well as nations dense around major rivers, such as Egypt and much of the Middle East.


Temperate forested regions will be next. The heavy cover will prevent most efforts to guard against the lone zombie stalking through the woods. Survivors can easily face danger while fleeing in these thickets, unwittingly running from one threat, immediately into one much deadlier, hidden in the veil of green. The ability for a single zombie, or even a massive horde, to remain hidden only a few miles, or even a few hundred feet from population and strategic centers means that these areas may provide the illusion of a safe haven from fleeing urban refugees, but will soon visit upon these souls a grisly fate. Millions more who survived the initial infestation will find the dark embrace of eternal night within rustling of leaves. Most of the Eastern United States, what remained of Europe through to central Russia, as well as large and particularly populated regions of Asia and Australia.


Next are the grasslands. While more secure due to the wide openness and lack of a host population than cities, the major plains of the world provide little to no defensive advantage to those who live within them beyond sight. A lone zombie may creep across the plains, able to be put down by trained rangers, but the onset of a horde, will afford survivors no strategic advantage. The open terrain may provide time, but it will not provide safety. At some point, those who make it to the grasslands will be uprooted to survive the hordes. This interruption to daily life may recreate the nomadic lifestyle of the Native Americans and Bedouin peoples, but the quest to follow sources of food is much different than the quest to avoid becoming it. This won’t be a long term survival strategy. If annihilation is avoided from zombies, it will surely overtake them via starvation. If an external source of long term security isn’t met, these nomadic colonies of scavengers will not last indefinitely.

Gone would be the Central North American continent, large tracks of South America, All of Central Africa, the remainder of the Middle East through the Central Asian steppes, India, and Australia.


The tundra provides humans who live there the possibility of being aided by the environment. The intense cold will slow movement of the zombies allowing greater time for defense and culling operations to occur. The danger of the tundra is, however, as it has always been, the in-hospitality of its very nature. The intense cold makes life hard and food scare. No longer able to rely on imports, many of these regions will be worse off from the collapse of self sustaining civilization, than from the few half frozen dead that arrive at their doors. The world in the cold will return to a lifestyle it existed in 500 years ago. If people weren’t able to live then, they won’t be able to live without civilization today.


Once we reach the deserts do we start to experience regions where humans have the advantage. Like the plains the deserts offer large offer a wide area of security where it can be seen if one comes to a settlement. Unlike the plains, the desert itself serves as a weapon to the zombie. Arid heat will dry out the dead walker as shards of sand slowly grind the being to collapse. Once the dead have dried out, they will soon deteriorate to join the sand and the dust of the desert landscape.

It will be said that the desert populations that exist today won’t be able to survive as they do now. Some regions, such as Arizona and Saudi Arabia, have become food exporters through the importing of vast amounts of water, artificially pumped or funneled from far away or by draining their natural, and limited aquifers. These feats were only achieved through incredibly complex technological operations. With a collapse of society, these systems will collapse, as well. Assuming they survive the zombies, many won’t find survive the hunger, to say nothing of those who run out of water. Those that do may see a return to a Bedouin life of nomadic wandering, serving as the vital trade network keeping the last few desert environments surviving just above subsistence.


Jungles will fair well for those who can just plain survive in the jungle. The dense vegetation will make traversal by way of mindless dead nearly impossible. Fighting off deadly predictors, rot, or simply being swept away by floodwaters will see most of the dead plague disappear into the heavy growth. Even bugs will become the defenders of mankind in that environment. The jungle, however, proves just as much of a burden to defenders seeking to protect populations. In much the same way that human warfighters were defeated by the ravages of jungle living in World War II all the way to Vietnam, rangers set to defend regions from zombies will have to learn to survive in the jungle before they have to learn to survive the zombies. That said, like with the temperate forests, one wrong move could put you at odds with a dead man’s bite. Fortunately, these instances will be one off misfortunes, not the type of exponential collapses to society we see in other parts of the world.

Given that the jungle also provides a wealth of vegetation and even suitable cropland, small communes of villages could spread throughout the jungle terrains, providing sanctuary for millions of people. Rather, millions of survivors. We may see hardy bands of villages reform all across the equator as humans cower in the jungles. Places like the Gold Coast of Africa into the Congo may see massive die offs once the cities are emptied, but their people may survive the apocalypse if enough of them find their way to the jungles. Northern Brazil and Southern Venezuela just the same. The jungles of Asia, including the Burmese, and those the Indonesian island chains are problems, there, they have such massive and dense populations (Burma is a country smaller than Ireland or Virginia, but with a population equal to Russia, and Indonesia is the third most populated nation on Earth) that they would face unimaginable carnage before anyone reaches a deep jungle haven. Even once they did, I’d imagine the undead saturation would matter far more than jungle rot, snakes, and giant spiders.


Mountains. Almost the best location to be will be those centered high in the mountains. Providing difficult terrain to navigate and highly defensible natural barriers, they will form virtual fortifications for those who dwell inside.

The only burden to those within the confines of the high altitudes will be food. Places like the United States state of Colorado, Europe’s Switzerland, or Asia’s Afghanistan may be highly weaponized populations and able to provide for their own security, but being that all of these exist as part of a globalized network of partnerships for goods and services, they will be without certain valuable, in some cases, live saving commodities. Without some access to large quantities of fresh food, either through subsistence or protected conclaves of agricultural, they will do little better than those who live in the tundra.


So, we’ve eliminated virtually any place on the planet from being somewhere where a nation might do well to survive the end. There is, however, one geographic type which provides those who live there the best set of strategic advantages to survive, both as a population, and without suffering the onslaught of the zombie horde. That would be the islands.

Islands, such as the island of Tristan (the world’s most remote island) can be miles, sometimes thousands of miles from the range of the walking dead… or anything else. Though the dead are dauntless in their trudge across the land, when water comes into play, they suffer the ravages of salt water corrosion, as well as the rotting effects of something saturated in water for days. Presuming a zombie even could walk across the bottom, or perhaps float to the shore, but it would likely dissolve in a matter of days, or be eaten by some unlucky dweller of the deep long before that. Given that, the horde of undead coincidentally all emerging from from the sea to overwhelm a lonely victim seems incredibly unlikely.

Islands also possess another advantage to their inhabitants, being a long field of view. Many islands in the sea are really just the peaks of massive underwater mountains, mountains which reach up above the water and sometimes, high into the sky. These mountains, as previously stated, offer a wide view. Seeing out miles and miles to the sea gives their inhabitants hours to prepare for what little may be able to come, where others living in places listed above, might have only minutes, or even seconds, to deal with a mountain of very, very bad things.

Last, and perhaps most important, many islands are sustainable by growing fruit and vegetables on their own. This means that those who survive, can afford to last a while, at least until plans can be made. Granted, most islands today sustain their large populations thanks to huge amounts of imports… so that’s going to be rough to get through, but a slow starvation of some isn’t the same as becoming food for others. That said, many islands are capable of self-sustainment, as they have been for generations before the dawn of modern shipping. Those that can make the transition, we will see them do well in the Age of the Undead.

Could a Star Destroyer Defeat the Whole US Army?

More than likely, one TIE Fighter, could defeat the whole of the US Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, Air Force, and the combined military arsenals of all earthly defense forces.

​Let’s not look at this in terms of bigness of the ships, but of advancements in technology. When we really think about the staggering gulf between the technology of the US military of 2016 and that of the Star Wars universe, you will start to see that this question isn’t really if we can be beaten, but how long would it take. For example, would you consider it possible for a few ship loads of European Conquistadors capable of disemboweling the Aztec Empire in only a matter of months?

​In 1518, Cortés, a Spanish Conquistador, was in command of an expedition to explore and secure the interior of Mexico for colonization. Accompanied by about 11 ships, 500 men, 13 horses, and a small number of cannon, Cortés landed on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mayan territory. By 1521 Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztecs, had fallen, and Cortés was the governor of all their empire.

The advantages that the Conquistadors brought to fight were steel, both covering their body in armor, and with unyielding weapons. Compare this to the Aztec Eagle Warriors, what amounted to the Aztec’s special forces. For generations, they had only specialized in capture and raid tactics to take living captives for Aztec human sacrifice rituals. The only armor they needed were tightly woven cloth over shirts, and the weapons they used amounted to wooden mallets lined with obsidian. This was virtually worthless against the armored knights of Spain. Added to it the devastating psychological effects of even early guns and the whole of the empire was outmatched by a few very advanced foreigners. Disease had no small role in the defeat of the Aztecs, but the fact was undeniable. Around a thousand men conquered a nation. The difference, it should be noted, between Spain and the Aztecs, was no more than 4,000 and by some accounts much less.

​Compare this the Star Wars of the days of Luke, Leia, and the diabolical Darth Vader. According to the expanded universe, (which shouldn’t be changed for the purposes of this article) hyperdrive was invented something around 40,000 year, at which point, advanced technologies started circulating throughout the galaxy.

Let’s assume that we are only a thousand years away from some form of faster than light travel. That still means we would need to progress for another 40,000 years to be relevant to what that civilization can do. To give it some more perspective in thinking about the conquest of Mexico, instead consider what a modern warrior, take a US Navy SEAL or Marine, armed with something like the M-27 Automatic Rifle.

​Now match them up with their 40,000 years ago counterpart… with his somewhat sharp hand tool.

​Now imagine if you will, if the Marines are that much more powerful than the caveman, what is that much more powerful to the Marines? We can’t fathom it, (it’s a Sith) but if we think logarithmically, we can start to understand exactly how much of a mismatch anything the US military could field.

How would that one lone TIE fighter bring us down? I wouldn’t have the first clue how to answer that. Neither, I assume, could Montezuma. We are operating in the realm of the unknown unknowns just as much as our caveman friend trying to determine the strengths and weaknesses of that M-27 rifle. It’s safe to say, though, that by the end of the day, whatever power he fields will outmatch our own without even the slightest hope of a chance.



 

Oh dear, people in my comments are getting all worked up about stuff. Alas…

Still, a few are cool, so I will address those.

1) Cortez won because of smallpox.

Yeah, I sort of mentioned that, but I want to remind people (subtly) that a person from another galaxy might just have their own Smallpox that could disrupt the whole system just as easily. In fact, far worse. Imagine a bug that can somehow disrupt every living cell on Earth. I’m no space virologist, but I’m just guessing that, like our unfortunate answers the Native Americans, the first time we get the lucky visit from outer space by aliens who aren’t all bad, but lacking in some basic understanding or forethought, billions of us are going to die. We won’t die by murder or conquest, neither malice nor hate… just by accident… which will still be super sad. So… score one for the TIE-Fighter and one against all known and unknown life yet to meet.

2) Cortez won because of allies.

Good job learning your history. Seriously, that’s an important part of the story that I really wish people would research. Yes, Cortez showed up and shifted the balance of power. From that point, all the rival nations tired of, you know, being raided, pillaged, enslaved, and sacrificed for all those years, sort of liked having an opportunity to overthrow the evil empire. Yeah, the Aztecs were horrible people. Don’t feel sorry for them just because a bunch of white Europeans showed up to disrupt their fun and murderous barbarism. Yeah, that’s part of history too. That said, we always have this belief that we will all rally together when evil aliens come to make war on the homeworld (I, for one, still love (with italics) Independence Day) but what happens when they offer a deal to the Russians? I’m just sayin’… in this story, I don’t really trust the Russians. Look, Cortez and his few hundred guys couldn’t have done all that alone. Perhaps our TIE-Fighter couldn’t either… but the TIE and Russia, or maybe China in exchange for a few laser blaster designs… oh yeah, the free world of humankind is boned.

Props for good discussion: Wayne Sherman, Giuseppe Longo

3) “A Tie Fighter is slower than an F16 in atmosphere and has no shields.”

This is actually really cool because someone did good research. Yeah, the specs on the actual ships of the Star Wars universe are weirdly weak, even by modern standards. If you’re interested at all… which you obviously are for reading this far you nerdy nerds, read Brian Collins‘ excellent answer to What technologies in the old Star Wars trilogy (1977 – 1983) are actually not that high-tech and would actually be sort of low-tech if they were actual products/things introduced in 2015? It actually invalidates my answer, but not for the point I was trying to make on how boned we are going to be when a real evil alien menace comes around, but because the creators of Star Wars somehow failed to envision how powerful these things should have been.

4) But how did Ewoks defeat the Stormtroopers with primitive tools?

Shovels are primitive tools. They used shovels… to dig plot holes. That’s how.


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Citizens of the Free World – In the Name of Freedom, Demand to See “The Interview”!

In a rare moment for me, I am getting into the entertainment industry. That’s because Seth Rogen and James Franco have created an unprecedented international incident by making a movie about killing the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

I personally was looking forward to it, but it seems that is going to be much harder to do now. That is because of a string of events that began with what I imagine to be a very plump crew-cut dictator throwing the mother of all tantrums, and I now can’t see my movie.

Why this is important: The movie centers on the exploits of Rogen, who plays a journalist and his celebrity friend (Franko) being invited in a rare opportunity to North Korea. This mirrors some actual events such as the much publicized visits to the RPK by basketball superstar Dennis Rodman beginning in early 2013. Where it differs, is that this time, the hapless duo are tasked by the CIA to kill Mr. Jong-un.

Well that sounds hilarious, but what happened next wasn’t. Apparently, Sony Pictures was hacked by what now appears to be a group backed by the North Koreans (which reads more clearly as “Just Plain The North Koreans”.) These hackers have been rumored to have leaked the scripts to several movies yet to be released such as the new James Bond film, among others. That was kind of a dick move, but then they went so far as to threaten terrorist actions against Sony Pictures and various movie theaters if they went ahead with filming.

Well now that’s just rude. Actually, it is an international crime, but we’re splitting hairs. What we have is a direct threat by foreign agents to cause “terrorism”, which we can only assume means intentional acts intended to cause grievous harm to Americans and American property if demands are not met. This act has caused Sony Pictures to cancel their premiere of “The Interview” and Carmike Theaters, a company with over 200 theaters in the United States, has opted not to showcase the movie at all.

For that reason, more so than just threats, grievous harm has already been made against Americans. American companies now are being terrorized into capitulating to the whims of some impossibly immature, maniacal dictator. Forget for a moment that actual American lives were threatened and focus on the concrete damage that has been done. The North Koreans, (you’ll note I’m intentionally no longer still pretending it was some random hacker group who just so happens to absolutely adore Kim Jong-un) deliberately stole industry sensitive information that cost one American company, Sony Pictures, headquartered in California, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars. It destroyed the premiere of one Hollywood picture and devalued many others. Thousands of people connected to the films industry are going to suffer because of this. If I haven’t been clear, this was a deliberate act of economic warfare, terrorism rather, from one sovereign nation to the United States.

And now those who regularly follow me see why I am interested. This attack demonstrates particular failures in the United States national defense strategy that must be addressed. The attack demonstrates the power that nationally backed hacking programs have to disrupt and damage American and allied country’s economic spheres. Showcasing the vulnerabilities of individual companies and individuals, the North Korean attack on Sony Pictures clearly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the United States government’s response to attacks on its economic sector. Obviously, it is providing an inefficient level of defense for companies housed in the United States, because, as it seems, threats like the attack on Sony Pictures aren’t actually considered a threat to national security.

In case you think I going overboard, this isn’t even the first time Americans have been targeted like this, either. It has long been known that the Chinese have used commercial intelligence and espionage to silently break into the networks of American companies, steal their patented trade secrets and deliver them to Chinese owned corporations. Other nations even have entire departments and special third party agencies (like the one in question) dedicated to the endeavor of cyber-espionage and signal based attacks. Have you ever heard of Syrian Electronic Army? They are a group who does nothing but commit acts of cyber terrorism and espionage in the name of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Iran and the United States, among others have even been trading blows in a cyber pseudo-war for years. Lest we not forget my favorite subject, the group known throughout the world as ISIS. Their exploitation of social media has been used to target American Veterans and active service members at their homes, encouraging Islamic radicals to target them and their families.

The point here is that there is a major threat to American interests. Individual lives as well as the economic security and strategic corporate advantages of thousands of companies, the very lifeblood of United States national security itself, have been compromised. I am not someone who agrees with others that Sony failed by giving into the terrorists. If people were somehow attacked at a theater, it would be those executives blamed for the deaths, along with the North Koreans. Furthermore, a company, any company, like Sony Pictures have absolutely no defense against the ongoing threat of future revenge attacks like this, leaking all of their sensitive trade information, the secrets like unreleased scripts they need to keep their company going for years to come, given the enemy they are defending themselves is North Korea.

Do I honestly think that the RPK is going to bomb some movie theater because of a stupid movie, possibly starting a war that they will definitely lose? No, I don’t, but I do think that Sony Pictures Entertainment faces an existential threat by way of North Korea. Are we supposed to blame Sony Pictures because they can’t defend against a whole country? Switching gears, imagine if Providence Health and Services, a major healthcare company with hundreds of hospitals under its umbrella, were to face a similar cyber attack. Tens of thousands of people could have their sensitive health data, valuable information in itself, made public. Are we really going to blame Providence when the perpetrator of the attack was Iran? If all the lights went off in Santa Maria (just outside Vandenberg Air Force Base) is the city of just over one-hundred thousand people at fault, when the attack originated from inside Russia? No. How could every single company, agency, state, city, and individual in the United States be expected to protect itself, and by extension be responsible for the combined security of everyone else in the United States, against entire nations set to steal their valuable information, damage their property, or worse, end their lives?

What we need, in the lowly opinion of this former United States Marine Corps tactical data and networking communication specialist, is a deeper look into our signal defense architecture. More projects and agencies which specialize in SIGDEF need to be given priority in the coming years. Far more if even movie companies are more afraid of a dictator 5,600 miles away than they were of our own President. Frankly, the future of warfare is going to look very similar to events like the attack on Sony Pictures. Weak points in very large systems are going to be exploited with the few things that they are vulnerable to. Each time they are, the gears of industry are grind down just a little bit slower.

In the case of Sony Pictures, this attack was a direct hit on two fronts. The first is money. By threatening the movie maker, they lost the company millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars. More so, many millions, perhaps billions more may have been lost now that valuable scripts have been made public. I don’t fault Sony Pictures though, for making the decision to pull the premiere. They showed their values there. They believed the threat of terrorism on American movie goers was true and for that reason, they chose not to risk lives of people at the cost of many millions of dollars. That decision, from my point of view, is admirable and the commitment to protecting innocent people over making money, should be recognized and commended. Perhaps they did it just because so many of the movie theaters decided to pull the movie too. I can’t honestly say for sure. All I know, is that I don’t blame them for the decision they finally were forced to make.

As for Americans though, I’d like for us to make it clear that we don’t give credence or credibility to the tyrannical tirades of any post-pubescent dictator. This isn’t something we need to call in the military, or spin up the missile batteries, though we have been at peace now for about two weeks, so it’s about that time again. All kidding aside, letting North Korea know simply how impotent we view them militarily by not putting our own troops in the front is the way to go. I mean honestly, what is the NPK going to do? Start a war over a friggin movie? Do you really think China would back you after bombing an American movie theater over something this petty? This whole scenario doesn’t even make sense. If they were though, I’m reminded of the line from 300 delivered ever so eloquently by  Gerald Butler:

No, the right move for Americans right now isn’t to force our military to take action. It isn’t to scold Hollywood either, for doing what they thought was the right thing to do to keep people safe.

For Americans, and the rest of the free world for that matter, the right thing to do is to march up to the box office and demand to see something that some North Korean dicktator threatened you not to see. We need to stand up in the roar of many voices and let it be known that we the people, will not capitulate, cower, or suffer the whims of tyrannical brats. We the people won’t be pressured, bullied, threatened, or crossed. We’re Americans dammit and we don’t get told what to do. We are Leviathan.

Thank you Sony Pictures for your concern, but I for one, am willing to risk the potential attack on US soil and would like to see your movie, if for nothing else than to give a big and hearty American one fingered salute to our friends over in Pyongyang.

(That’s not the salute I’m talking about, BTW.)


Thanks for reading!

Everything I write is completely independent research supported by fan and follower assistance. If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like it, please follow Jon’s Deep Thoughts. Please also show your support by visiting my fan donation page here: Support Jon Davis creating Short Stories and Essays in Military, Science Fiction and Life. Once again, thanks for reading and supporting independent writers.

Month End Funnies: I Have an Irrational Fear of Zombies and am Buying a House. Any Advice?

Dear Jon,

I have an irrational fear of zombies. I am buying a new house, and don’t know what I should. I want to protect my family from the elements as well as the impending apocalypse. I’d also like to provide them with a good home, without sacrificing the basic comforts of home. I’d like all this, but don’t even know the minimum height that the concrete wall around the back yard should be. Please help!

Sincerely,

Apocalyptic Annie


Dear Annie,

I’m so glad you reached out. The last thing anyone should be without is a secure home. We all want the piece of mind in knowing that our family will be safe, even if that safety is from the undead horde. Let’s make no mistake though, the eternal feeders bring with them much greater dangers than your common burglar or pesky kids selling popcorn. You’ll need to have a much more developed security plan than high walls, which I will outline for you. Don’t feel bad, not everyone thinks about this stuff. Frankly, I’m just proud that you cared enough to ask an honored that you would put the future of your family in my hands. Having said that…

The first thing I would advise you in is that you need to rethink your concrete wall strategy. Perimeter walls are a crutch and a waste of money if you haven’t already installed the collapsible window and door fortifications.


This is the Safe House by Polish architect Robert Konieczny of KWK Promes. It’s a fortress. There really isn’t another word for it. The Safe House is a giant concrete cube whose walls were designed to move, collapse and secure in the event of, well… it doesn’t really matter what, you’re going to be fine.

Yeah, and it isn’t the old musty sort of fortress we all knew growing up. Yeah sure it has all fundamentals of a quality castle, collapsible drawbridge, courtyard (which doubles as a detainment and quarantine area) and your walls by the way, but it also comes with a lovely patio, steel kitchen appliances and even an indoor pool. Also, as a bonus its massive concrete walls make it incredibly energy efficient, so that after the horde dies off, the environment doesn’t as well.

Honestly we should have seen this coming from Poland. I guess it really takes someone raised in a place with a history of being literally the first place where the world goes to hell in a handbasket time after time after time to be where someone would invent the first truly zombie horde proof home.

And yes… it’s real:

And if that isn’t really enough evidence, a wall won’t help you no matter how high it is. According to Max Brooks, author of the Zombie Survival Guide, says that if zombies really set their minds to something, err… minds… either way, if they really set their minds to overcoming an obstacle they’ll just climb over one another in some sloppy random fashion of a pile until your barbecue is burned.

Don’t you let anyone make fun of you Annie. Irrational fears are only irrational until they aren’t and then who’s laughing? You’re doing the right thing in being prepared. After all, a man’s home is his castle and if your castle doesn’t have a collapsible drawbridge, then you don’t love your family. Best of luck Annie!


Everything I write is completely independent research. I am supported completely by fan and follower assistance. If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like it, follow my Quora blog Jon’s Deep Thoughts. You can also show your support by visiting my support page here: Support Jon Davis creating Short Stories and Essays in Military, Science Fiction and Life. Once again, thanks for reading and supporting independent writers.

How I Stabbed Myself With a Katana

Did I ever tell you guys about the time I was stabbed with a katana?

I was 15, it was the dead of night, and I had some swords. That should be enough, as anyone with a functioning imagination has already completed most of the unimportant details, but I will tell you the rest anyway.

When I was 15 I earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do. To commemorate the event my mother got me a set of decorative swords. Don’t blame her, I was a smart kid most of the time. I know that there isn’t really a relation between Tae Kwon Do and Japanese swordsmanship, but whatever, they were cool. Stop nagging me about the details.

The stabbing:
So one night during Christmas break I was up messing around in my room. I have always been an insomniac so 1 o’clock in the morning is when I like to do stupid things. Well it was about 12:30 when I decided to try out something I learned with my swords. It was a simple move. Slash, stop, turn… Slash, stop, turn. Not difficult. So I tried it. It felt really good. I was doing well. Now walking: Step, slash, stop, turn. Step, slash, stop, turn. “Dude I am awesome at this. I bet I could kill a samurai or a zombie like this!” So I did as I did and tried to get faster with it. Step, slash, stop, turn, step, slash, stop, turn, step-slash-stop-turn, step-slash-stop-turn, stepslashstopturn, stepslashstopturn, then… step, slash, turn, stop. Did you notice the change there? It was a significant flaw in the order of operations.

I came to an abrupt stop in the way that something stopped my sword other my will alone. I looked down to see what event had taken place. I could see my sword stabbed right through my favorite pair of shorts. That was the first thing I noticed, a hole right in the middle of the leg of my most comfortable pair just on the inside of my left thigh. Right through them. Then I saw it; a small red stream start to flow down my leg coordinated with a sensation of heat pulsing throughout my body.

OH DEAR GOD! I JUST STABBED MYSELF IN THE LEG WITH A SWORD!”

What kind of an idiot actually does this? Then I pulled the sword out and it was the most… interesting… feeling I ever had. Just imagine the last time you pulled a blade two inches wide four inches out of your leg. It was kind of like that. Then the blood started gushing. I was terrified, but not for the reason you might think.

Mom had just had the carpets cleaned that day. My leg was gushing blood. In all honesty, the stabbing had happened so fast that there was very little pain and my only real thoughts were that if I couldn’t get all the way to the kitchen to stop the bleeding without getting blood all over the carpets, she is going to kill me. I suppose in hindsight I should have been much more concerned with the location of the artery I came literally within an inch of piercing. Yeah, I suppose Mom wouldn’t have actually killed me, but that might. So anyway, I began the long trek from my room to the kitchen. You can’t see it as you read this, but imagine me hobbling on my punctured leg as fast as I could in such a position so that the blood stayed only on my leg for the 7 miles between my room and the kitchen. That is really the best part of the story. You are just going to have to believe me on this one. I get to the kitchen and try to apply pressure to the wound and stop the bleeding. I’m proud of the fact that, amidst all the trauma and tribulation brought about by my self inflicted wound, I only lost two drops to the carpet. That’s pressure under fire there ladies and gentlemen. I was then getting the bleeding under control and for the most part it had then stopped. I thought to myself, “I wonder if I am going to need stitches for this.” I pulled the rag up and (gush). Yep, I am going to have to get stitches. I have to tell Mom.

So I hobble the 15 miles to my mom’s bedroom. Did I mention that she had also had minor surgery that day, too? This was really not the day to stab myself, but when is really? So I hobble into her room and I wake her up… like this:

“Mom I need you to wake up… Don’t turn on the lights!”

“What is going on?” she moaned

“Mom, the first thing I want you know is that, what we have here… is a learning experience.”

“Oh, what did you do!?” she exclaimed exasperated

I tell the story as if I am used to this sort of thing; calm, cool and collected, as I inform her of my situation. She tells the story as if I was a terrified kid half passed out on the verge of delirium. I bet it was somewhere in the middle. She turns on the light and looks at what I have done as I tell her the story. I took the washcloth I was using as a makeshift bandage off and the gaping wound started to gush again. She was shocked at first, but knew what to do. She is a nurse and had been for my entire life, so I was now in my safe place. She wasn’t too terrified and knew that I was relativity safe in my current situation, so I was calmed now too.

We went back into the dining room where we got an ace wrap and secured it tightly around my leg. From there I laid down and gathered myself as Mom went off into another room before we went to the hospital. I remember waiting there for what felt like an hour wondering what was taking so long. Now that I was safe, the adrenaline had subsided and the pain started to creep in. My leg was starting to throb and I was getting weak. I wondered what was taking Mom so long. I hobbled in there to see and it looked like she was reading a magazine!

“What are you doing!? I have a giant hole in my leg and you are just reading a magazine! Get me to the hospital!”

She was actually reading the insurance paperwork from her hospital to see if it would be cheaper to take me there (an hour away) instead of just go to the local hospital. I was kind of turning into a baby at this point and insisted on the quicker option for a misguided fear of my own demise.

So we got to the hospital, the only one in my sleepy little town of 2,500 people and I was talking to the nurse who stitched me up.

“I bet this is the first time you have ever had some stabbed with a sword before in here.””Nope.” he said frankly.”Really?”

“Yeah, but at least you did it to yourself… and you weren’t drunk… and it wasn’t your wife.”

So that is my big story about the time I stabbed myself with a sword. I hope you enjoy.

Want a special bonus that readers of that one didn’t get? A video of me actually telling the story… while drunk!

 


 

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Should I get a Job in College or take a College Loan?

I would definitely suggest getting a job. College is just not that hard, academically speaking. It is a long series of doldrums punctuated with periods of post-procrastination cram sessions. If you are reasonably intelligent, college is only going to push you so far. Activities you do outside of class during your college years are those that will shape you as a person. Even more so, the way you spend that time, regardless of what you are doing in college, will either set you up for a good next ten years or send you spirally back into your pajamas wrapped in a blanket burrito of sadness in your mama’s basement eating Cheetos with the smelly cat. The classes, honestly speaking, just point you in a direction of interest as well as give you a minimum foundation with which to build upon later in your private and professional studies. Truly speaking, it is everything else that happens during college, besides the classes, that matters.

That said, it makes no sense to take a loan when you are going to be spending most of college just hanging out in the dorms. On the best of nights, you might attend a fantastic party where you build relationships and memories and blah, blah, blah. On a normal night( like 95%), you will probably be playing Call of Duty, talking about how inspiring some pretentious and uninteresting indie recording artist is, or not studying. The safe bet is that you will be not studying. On the worst of nights, you’re back at the party making decisions you’ll regret and that will haunt the furthest corners of your consciousness forever and ever and ever. All that to say, yeah, it may have been fun for a little while, but you aren’t going to get anywhere from these activities, at least, not as far as if you had made better decisions.

The time you are wasting could be invaluable later on. Consider this. Towards the end of college, you’re going to be faced with a slew of counsellors telling you things that, all of a sudden, you translate to, “Hiring managers, right now, aren’t hiring because students today don’t have the skills they are looking for.” In that moment, you realize, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” I am just about to graduate college and I can’t get a job because my college has failed at its only purpose.

I know, right? #sad, #FML, #Firstworldproblems,  #First_world_problems_that_are_actual_problems

Don’t feel bad, there are hundreds of thousands feeling the burn from this last decade. What you can do to mitigate this feeling of agony mixed with the onset of a slow and painful doom, is to acquire those skills which matter to hiring managers. What are they? It depends on what you want to do. Video games don’t teach them. A job, any job, will teach some. One thing that many people will tell you is that it is far easier to get hired once you already have a job. Neat huh?

What that means is that a hiring manager looks at you with the stereotype that you are a failure because you don’t already have a job. You basically have to disprove his theory that there must be something wrong with you. He has this belief, mostly because he landed his first job back in the 90’s when the economy was bursting at the seams and thinks that everyone who isn’t as lucky as he was isn’t worth his used air. His name is Old Economy Steve. Look him up when you feel like being angry at the system. It won’t do much, but it will make you feel a bit better.

Old Economy Steve sucks for you, but it doesn’t really change anything. The fact of the matter is that no one owes you a job and there are, realistically, thousands of people more qualified than you looking for work. So Old Economy Steve matters. He is still the guy (read: jackass) who hires people. For him you need to prove:

1) You have useful skills he won’t have to pay to train someone for.
2) You are employable.

The single best way to do that is to already have a college job. There is little else to add to that statement.

The second major point is how ridiculously expensive college is. I know people have seen the numbers, let’s say you go to a school that charges a “moderate” amount. Are we talking about Harvard or Stanford here? No. I said “moderate”. You’re moderate school may still run you $80,000 over the next four years. Don’t cry about it. You’re the one who wants to go college, and even though managers say you won’t have the skills they are looking for when you graduate, none will hire you without a degree. I know, you’re screwed. Get over it.

What happens next? Let’s say you take the loan. The moment you graduate, you are expected to repay that loan, or at least start. The way that loans work, you are going to be paying that back amortized over the course of 10 years. There are other models where you start paying a little immediately, but let’s stick with the simple model. Let’s assuming an interest rate of 5%, which is good compared to many lending services. Here’s the fun part, immediately after you start working you are now obligated to pay it back, at $845 a month (actually after you graduate… they will charge you either way, whether you get a job or not. No one loves you. No one cares about your problems.) That’s right, on top of home expenses, living expenses, car, life, ext, day one of your actual adult life you get a bill close to 1 Grand. You will also get it another 119 more times. That, by the way, is before any taxes or fees your lending institution straps on. By the time it is all over, 10 years from now, that $80,000 is now $102,000 that you have paid out. That’s a freaking house in some parts of the country.

The other route looks like this. You work a lot. Not all the time, but a lot more than some of your friends. You’re smart, you take the loan anyway. You want to save money, but you don’t want to risk not finishing college. So you take the loan and you still get a job, but you pocket all your extra coin. You stay disciplined because life at the other end of college rightfully terrifies you and you keep saving your money throughout all of college. You spend the next four years going from one job to another, to another. Each time you are gaining valuable skills and some valuable friends. Note I didn’t say loveable friends, I said valuable friends. Eventually, you will find a job you like. You might stick with that company for a while. You might get in good with your boss. At the end of your time, you are faced with a choice, you could either stay at your job, perhaps take a promotion, since they know you already and you are now “qualified” (nothing magic happened. You just got a stinking piece of paper.) Maybe you decide you want more. Either way, you have shown an ability to work and stay employable with a good work history. Your employment adventures have also presented you with a strong base of connections (remember those “valuable” contacts?) From there you might go back to some other company. You might have an in with a friend you’ve met to get an interview, or you might decide to take everything you’ve done and try for a job of your dreams while still keeping your other job, just in case. Whatever way you choose, you have still saved up a lot of change. You’re going to use that to pay off your loan in as much as you possibly can at the beginning, before it starts accruing interest. Maybe you still have some left, but it is way easier to pay down $20K, $40K, or even $60K than $80,000. You’ll have work so paying down that loan will be much easier than that other guy who looks like this.

I’ll be honest, twenty years down the road, you’re going to run the risk of a mid-life crisis where you complain to your wife in your beautiful home about how you never lived or did anything fun, wild, or stupid. That said, you need to choose what you want your mid-life crisis to look like. Do you want it to be that middle aged dude, balding with a Corvette to relive the youth he never had, or that middle aged dude, balding with his hand over shaking over the phone and the suicide prevention hotline reliving Chris Farley’s “Van Down By the River” sketch. You’re probably sad now. Welcome to adulthood. Here’s a video to help.


Thanks for reading!

Everything I write is completely independent research. I am supported completely by fan and follower assistance. If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like it, follow my Quora blog Jon’s Deep Thoughts. You can also show your support by visiting my support page here: Support Jon Davis creating Short Stories and Essays in Military, Science Fiction and Life. Once again, thanks for reading and supporting independent writers.

What would happen if you pit Star Wars Stormtroopers against Star Trek Redshirts?

The saddest thing about all this is that we would never really know how it happened.

Have you ever noticed that you have never actually seen a red shirt die or that you have never actually seen the storm troopers do a good job? In the classic episodes at least. Even though there are dead Star fleet and jawas laying around to point out that, yes the red shirts are always dying and yes the storm troopers are actually pretty good shots, you have never really seen it happen. Therefore, all of this battle will happen off screen.

What we would see, however, would look something like this. Kirk and the gang arrive in orbit around the moon of Endor. They beam down and Kirk sends off the red shirts to a various sundry of improbable demises. Meanwhile, he himself meets a female Ewok and seduces her. After his show of manly bravado he is reminded by Spock that the away team hasn’t reported in the several hours of Kirk’s raucous lovemaking. Kirk and all the other command officers of the ship, who, by the way, are the last people who should leave the ship… leave the ship, and go off gallivanting to investigate the missing crewmen.

Meanwhile, a large ship, too small to be a moon, but still freaking huge is detected on the other end of Endor on the view screen along with a fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers. Since the ship is left without any semblance of leadership, mostly because of the incredibly poor command choice that they all need to all abandon their posts in search of adventure or some other frivolous pursuit, the Enterprise is destroyed. Don’t worry, somehow the force or benevolent aliens or just something else cool and fortuitously unexpected will bring them back in the last three minutes of the episode. Don’t cry for them. They’ll be fine.

Kirk and team find the missing crewmen, all shot in the chest by laser fire ( The question is now answered and you can stop reading if you choose, but I wouldn’t suggest it.) Now Kirk and the gang spend the next thirty minutes trying to understand how all their crewmen died through perfectly aimed laser blasts to the chest. They’re not going to set up defenses or anything, even you know, take up a defensive posture. They’re just going to investigate curiously. As a reminder, that’s “curious”, not “cautious”, which would probably be the more appropriate manner, given the situation. I mean there are many things that could have caused this, why prepare for a battle to the death that happens every week?

During the half hour lull in the plot, Spock melds a force sensitive tree or his tricorder doohickey beeps or something and he is able to deduce that a spacial anomaly has sent them back in time and to a very distant galaxy. They are now taking part in a story set long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. They eventually meet with the Storm Troopers and a seven hour duel with the squad begins. No one in Kirk’s party is ever hit. Well, that’s not true. Scottie takes one to the leg, but it is mostly just a heroic, yet superficial injury. He isn’t in any real danger, but it adds suspense. McCoy can’t fix him since he left his gear on the ship. From this we can see something else important. McCoy is never prepared for the near certain death and destruction that is sure to follow Kirk wherever he goes. Seriously, they went out to investigate the complete annihilation of a team of trained Star Fleet officers killed in their prime by laser blasts to the chest! I guarantee you he didn’t even bring band-aids.

Eventually Kirk and Spock get the upper hand. Scottie throws a stick (heroically) and kills several of the troopers before he succumbs to more superficial injuries. Kirk valiantly takes down several more with oddly choreographed air punches he and McCoy set up a routine for during the stand off. Spock takes down the rest with a series of neck pinches. Yes neck pinches… through the armor… he just did…stop asking.

That is the end of the story for the red shirts and storm troopers, but not the end of our story all together.

Enter: Lord Vader.

5687577132_df7b6837a1Vader kills Kirk. He just does. I’m sorry I didn’t go into detail, but it just happens. It’s quick and unceremonious. Seriously, Kirk is an idiot and it was a long time coming. If it wasn’t Vader it would be the Space Herpes. Kirk is and always has been doomed from the start, mostly because of his own stupidity and the fact that his carelessness means he has to constantly keep training red shirts and falling on the capabilities of his much more capable officers. Well, now he isn’t a problem anymore so let’s just move along.

What happens next, though, is that McCoy is able to knock out Vader with his hypospray. Yeah, he brought that along. Meanwhile, Scottie is now raving deliriously with pain and poor medical treatment. Spock seizes the moment and conducts a Vulcan Mind Meld. Why? Because it seemed like a good idea at the time. With this Anakin’s mind is calmed with the presence of logic and wisdom as he shares the thoughts of Spock in his own mind. He is now capable of seeing that he has been a pawn of the Emperor and has been manipulated from the start. Sadly though, this kind of turned Spock evil. And even though I am pretty sure it goes against the laws of the Star Wars universe, gave him force powers as well. Oh dear God yes. We now have an evil Spock with powers of a Sith Master. His indomitable logic is now sullied by Anakin’s boyish angst and fits of post-pubescent rage. He now also has the command of the powers of Vulcan strength and telepathic abilities augmented by the combined strengths of dark Jedi and Sith teachings, along with an added asset of a mind immense with tactical and strategic value. His first most logical choice? Kill the newly reformed Anakin Skywalker. The Universe is screwed.

Now free of the incomprehensible Kirk, and with the hapless Vader disposed of, the empowered Spock takes charge of  what’s left of Vaders ship and his crew to confront the evil Emperor. They meet aboard the Death Star and a duel between Sideous and Sith Spock ensues. Well, sort of. Now Spock has the power of the new and improved Vulcan Neck Pinch – Now with Force Powers! and knocks out Sideous from across the room. Yeah, he can now neck pinch you from the other side of the galaxy. Done. He has no moral qualms with killing the treasonous villain either and does so promptly, and gruesomely I might add.

With this Spock now takes on the mantle of Emperor and is the most powerful being in the Star Wars galaxy. Thank you for asking.


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Finale of I Drew a Monkey in a Math Book and Now I’m Married

Gorrilla Cover Part VI

(Start at Chapter One)

Midway through the summer between Junior and Senior year of high school, Jennie and I found ourselves on a trip in South Texas. We had to drive back home to Oklahoma. It was just us; no parents, no adults, and just miles upon miles of open road running the central Texas prairie. We spent the whole day together, most of it submerged in torrential rains. There was a monster gulf storm that seemed to follow us the entire length of Texas. We laughed about it and talked for the whole trip. There are a lot of things we still talk about from that trip. After a nine hour drive that should have only taken five, thanks to the storm, and luck perhaps, we arrived back home. By the end of the day, though, we weren’t quite ready to part ways.

We stayed together for what was left of the day and we found ourselves talking again in her room. That night, I was laying on her bed after we had been talking for a long time. It was not a particularly special conversation. If my life relied upon retelling even a single word of it, I would be gone forever. It was just more of the same little nothings kids in love talk about late at night; music, movies, each other, the events of the day.

There was a moment of silence where I began to think back about the day. It was perfect. I had spent the whole thing just hanging out with this beautiful wonderful girl who made me happy. I wanted it to be like that forever. The seed of a notion began to take root and reach up toward the light in my mind.

“(What is going to happen to us after high school? Will we be able to stay together?)” I wondered.

“(We probably won’t be able to. Not in the real world. She’ll probably go to college and who knows where I will end up?)”

“(I don’t want to lose her. Probably, the only real way this could work is if we got married.)”

“(I wish we were old enough that getting married might be an option.)”

“(Why, exactly, aren’t we old enough? What really makes a person old enough to get married?)”

“(Why should I wait until I am older to find the girl I want spend the rest of my life with, anyway?)”

(Jennie is everything I want…)

Returning to reason, momentarily, I caught hold of the hazardous progression of thoughts taking place in my head.

“(This is crazy. I am only seventeen. I can’t know what I want in a woman. Why would I even be thinking is?)”

I laid in silence for a while longer, pensively staring at the ceiling. This idea of mine wouldn’t leave me. I kept on thinking about the inevitable reality that High School couples don’t last after High School.

I decided the only way to resolve the situation was to give her the responsibility of proving to me that this was supposed to happen. There would need to be some test to validate my inkling. It would have to be something difficult, but that a good wife would be able to do, at least by limited imagination of what it meant to be a good wife. If she somehow passed the test, then my mind would be made up. If she failed, perhaps it was never meant to be, anyway. I could be done with the emotionally charged internal debate and go back to being a seventeen year old kid, free of the ludicrous tugging of fanciful heartstrings. Fate would determine what I needed to know.

“(She is great, but there needs to be something else. I need a woman who gets me. I think that a good wife should be able to understand when something is wrong with her husband, even if he doesn’t say anything at all. I have probably been thinking about this for a while. If she asks me in the next minute if something is wrong I am going to ask her to marry me.)”

It was an impossible thing to ask. It wasn’t fair to her to ask such a question. I had based the future of our relationship on a belief that a wife needed to have a telepathic level of empathy toward her potential partner. It was wrong to do that to her, put so much of a burden on her that relied on her never even knowing she was being tested. It was a foolish thing to do. A wiser person would have realized that thoughts like mine were the types of ideas which ruined what would have otherwise been beautiful relationships. If I were a wiser man, I probably would have never said them, but that didn’t matter.

Had I had the time to consider my thought processes, I may have dismissed it as the uncontrolled daydreaming of an infatuated youth. I didn’t have the time, though. As I finished that fateful sentence in my mind, literally, as the period landed in the sentence of my thoughts, I heard a whisper from the other side of the bed.

“Jon, is everything alright?” Jennie said.

“…”

“(What? Seriously?)” These were only real thoughts I could muster. I was startled at the immediacy of which my test was passed. I didn’t even have time to realize what a stupid idea that was! To place one’s fate in the whims of miraculous luck! Perhaps, however, it wasn’t really luck. Perhaps it was exactly what I needed to do, and her reaction, was exactly what I needed to hear.

“(Umm… No. It is ok.)” I thought, gathering myself.

“(She is the perfect woman for me. And I did say that I would, so I am going to. I’m doing this.)”

I rolled over and looked at her. She was concerned by my apparent absence. I talked to her and told her what I felt. I told her what my mind had been up to and what I had decided. I told her how much the time we spent together meant to me and how I never really wanted this day to stop. I told her that I wanted to spend my life with her.

That’s when I asked her to marry me. That was it. That was all the thinking about it and planning that I done. I hadn’t ever really considered it before that, not really. At that moment, though, I made a choice that was by far the most important of either of our lives, and I did it almost completely on impulse. There was no planning; no consultations; and no time for hesitation.
In all honesty, if you find a woman who is sweet, smart, hardworking, and wonderful in all the ways you need, you should consider taking a few chances for her. If, however, you find a girl who does all this and also instinctively understands you so well that her abilities border on clairvoyance, you really need to drop everything and take the leap of faith. I was rash like a child and almost completely driven on emotion with only the slightest ounce of reason to back it up.

Her concern for my few minutes of silence from a few moments earlier could now, more easily, be described as a stunned silence.

She said she would have to think about it…

Think about it.

Those words hung in the air for a moment and my heart sank. Sank is perhaps the wrong word. It’s too soft of a word. It crashed to floor taking with it my raptured spirit. Both descended with an almost audible thud.

What had I just done?

I told her that thinking it over would be fine and that I understood. That was a lie. I was scared, terrified to be precise. I was struck sick. Once the cold realization of the brash actions and all the potential consequences were fully realized I was left with the feeling that you get that there is a deep, deep chasm in your chest when you suddenly realize that you have already lost something extremely important, but the actual event was yet to occur. It was the looming presence of doom. More than anything, at that moment, I was wishing so very, very much to have been afforded, just for one moment in my life, the ability to return three minutes back in time and forget the whole thing ever happened. Internally, I was a wreck. Outwardly… I said that I understood. As I said before, that was lie.

It was late, so I slept on her couch that night. That was one of the worst nights I have ever had. I knew that was one the most reckless things I had ever done.

“Oh God,” I thought. “She is going to get freaked out and break up with me.”

“She will tell the whole school and make a laughing stock of me.”

“I should just walk in there and take it back… Stupid.”

“Then again,” I considered. “She might say, ‘Yes”…”

I eventually went to sleep. The next morning I went to see her. We talked for a few minutes. She didn’t bring it up, as if neither of us must have been thinking about the giant, invisible thing sitting there in the room with us. We would probably still be sitting there if I didn’t work up the courage to ask, again. I asked her what she thought about last night. After the night I had just had, I have never been so afraid to ask a question, let alone, ask it again. All my worrying and the cold sweat I finally fell asleep in didn’t prepare me for what she said.

She said that she spent the whole night thinking of reasons why she shouldn’t do it. That was swift kick in the stomach. Then she opened her mouth, as if to finish the thought. The next thing she said was that she couldn’t come up with any.

She said, “Yes.”

That was how we decided we would get married. We were still seventeen.
We didn’t tell anyone because, frankly the community wouldn’t support two seventeen year olds considering the idea of marriage. We grew up in a small town, but this wasn’t the 1950’s, after all. It just wasn’t wise. It wasn’t normal. It was ludicrous by almost any standard you could logically imagine. The town would not be understanding. And then there would be our families.

We spent the next year “preparing” ourselves for it, it being a life of marriage directly following a life of childhood. After school we laid in bed talking about our fantastic plans and built up our dreams together. ‘How many kids would we want?’, ‘What type of house would we want to live in?’, ‘What jobs would we have?’, ‘Would we have dogs or cats? Or both? How many?’
I think that that year was actually much more important for us than the romantic story above. We really contemplated our situation and started to really grasp the things we had to do. We began to think like married people as we kept up our secret engagement.

That’s when, I think, “I” and “me” started to dissolve into the much greater solution that is “us” and “we”. It’s an important transition. I don’t think most couples appreciate the moment. You don’t really realize when it happened. There was just a moment when you stopped making plans for you. You instinctively wonder how your choices will affect not only yours, but her life. If you’re lucky, that other person will feel the same way. Everything is “we” from then on.

In keeping up with our tradition of secrecy, I went, on my own, to the local jewelry store. She may only be a girl to the eyes of many, but she was my fiancé. I wanted her to feel like a bride. I wanted her to feel like an adult and that I was serious about her. I wanted to give her a ring.

Something about me believed that a woman deserves enough respect from a
man for him to sacrifice his wages to show he loves her and wants others to know it, too. Those wages aren’t just some obligations. It is a symbol. Those lost wages are a symbol of something more. They symbolize the very real time that was given up working, doing jobs my not like, for people you may not enjoy. That means something. That means a real sacrifice. It means that that person is willing to suffer for you to be happy. It doesn’t matter if she was seventeen or seventy. It is a romantic gesture to be sure, but more than that, it is a gesture of deep love. I am old fashioned, obviously. I know it might be materialistic, but I wanted her to know that I would work for her. I saved up my money and I went to find a ring.

I wasn’t stupid about it, though. I may be reckless and haphazard with most major life decisions, but not with my money. We were too young and too poor to be stupid. I went right after Christmas to take advantage of one of the best sales of the year. (Thrift is important to young couples, by the way.) It was January and we still didn’t want anyone to know, but the girl who helped me just so happened to be in our class. We lived in a small town and gossip was still more of a hobby than the internet. Well… I walked in, saw her and decided that this was just how it was going to have to be. The girl behind the counter, Myka, was, however, a very trustworthy person, and a good friend. She didn’t tell anyone about the ring. She just held her hands up to her mouth, wide eyed with glee that comes from someone living vicariously through the experiences of a friend. It felt really good to have the first person I told be so genuinely supportive and happy for us. She helped me pick out a great one. It was $500, but perhaps a more precise measurement would be to say that, simply, it was everything I had.

A few months later, we made it official. By this time, our families knew that we would probably get married, but they didn’t know that we had already been planning for the better part of the year. I showed them the ring at moments when Jennie wasn’t around to see. She still didn’t know I had it for her. My mom and I went on a family trip to San Antonio and we invited Jennie to go, too.

As the week drew to a close, I took her out to a very nice dinner. It was March 20th and exactly one year to the day since we first went bowling, or rather, didn’t. It was the anniversary of that first awkward date, that first pizza, first movie, as well as the first of many other firsts. I formally presented the little band on the one year anniversary of our first date. We were sitting in the restaurant, looking out across the city in lights. I gently held her hand as she looked over the sparking cityscape. As subtly as I could, I slipped the ring around her finger. She didn’t look away from her view, but a large smile painted itself across her face. To ever receive a ring like that was a surprise to her. At least now we had a story we could tell to people about how we decided to get married, though. Jennie still polishes it lovingly with pride.

The important things that I remember about it was the complete sense of shocked support we received from the community. Basically, I think everyone loves a love story. You will always get support at the face value, but when they think about it, people thought we were silly kids, that we had a lot to learn, but mostly, they thought Jennie was pregnant. Well, it’s been over a decade since then and no little Jons or tiny Jennies are running around, so I hope that theory has been officially debunked. We were young and had a lot to learn about the real world, that much was true, but we would learn that together.
We were married on June 1st, two weeks after we graduated high school. The ceremony was a lovely little quaint affair. “Lovely”, “quaint”; these are euphemisms that are best translated as cheap enough for kids to afford. We were married by the pier of the lake. It was a perfect summer afternoon, except for the rain. It rained, of course. Nothing in our story is storybook, after all. Weather didn’t interrupt the ceremony, though. We were already at the reception when it started. We aren’t superstitious people, but it still makes you nervous. On the way to our honeymoon at a romantic little bed and breakfast near our hometown, there was a rainbow. Jennie saw it. You know, sometimes it’s important to forget the rain and remember the rainbows.

We were eighteen years old then. We were each other’s first real boyfriend and girlfriend, first loves, first… well, we were young and experienced a lot of firsts together. We had been dating for a bit over a year and a few months. We probably would have done the same thing as everyone else our age. We could have kept dating after we went to different colleges, tried the long distance thing and then either would have broken up or gotten married a few years later, anyway. That would have been the sensible thing to do, but that’s not the way the Davis house works. Some bets you just don’t hedge. You go all in or don’t play at all.

We went all in. We did whatever it took to stay together, even if it meant that we had to be worlds apart. I knew that I had responsibilities now. I had a young wife, going to college in a few months. I wanted her to have a good life. I knew that I didn’t want to rely on our parents to support us, now fully realized adults in every sense of the word. I had to make some difficult choices. The most difficult choice would be how we would support such a young marriage; two kids by most people’s standards, no skills, fresh out of high school. The solution was simple. I had to leave.

When I knew that we were going to get married, I felt that the only way I could ensure that we would have the things we needed, food, security, and a place to sleep, was if I joined the military. I joined the Marines. We were signing paperwork to on our honeymoon, a fact Jennie was very aware of. She was strong, though. She understood that this was something we needed to do. She was strong. She was always strong in those days. Perhaps it was her strength that kept me going through far more than I would have wanted to go through. We spent only one week together before I had to leave. I left for Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California on June 6th.

It would be another two years, three deserts, two moves, three hundred phone calls and twelve time zones before we could ever really be together again after that, but that is a whole other story altogether.

I Drew a Monkey in a Math Book and Now I’m Married – Part 5

Gorrilla Cover Part V

(Start at Chapter One)

It’s probably impossible to guess how much we needed each other. She was still horribly shy. I was completely awkward in everything imaginable, but I played the part like I knew what I was doing.

The fact that we were dating was semi-miraculous. I’ve mentioned it to her often that she didn’t give me a single clue as to whether or not she liked me. There were no obvious flirts, no batting of the eyes, and none of the silly girly things that in any number of ways would confirm a young man’s suspicions that he was the object of her affections. I was basically just rolling dice and hoping on twelve. Of course, I realize that probably wasn’t true. In her way there were probably plenty of signs. It would just take time for me to learn her and understand what those ways were. Regardless, I was probably too inept to have noticed either way.

In fact, we almost never went out at all. I got her number. That was great. Good for me. Of course, social media didn’t exist back then and texting was luxury that no one I knew would waste the money on. No, you only had one option. You had to call her. It might be an evil and overprotective older brother on the other end, a wicked baby sister, or worse her mom or even worse than that, Dad. Dealing with whoever else answered was a fearful enough event in and of itself, but that wasn’t even the hard part. Then you have to ask her out all over again.

Yes, you got her phone number. Bravo, but now the courtship ritual progresses and you must ask her out a second time on more actionable terms. You have to commit to a real date at a real-time with actual activities.

Better have a plan there, too. A friend of mine invited me to a double date with him and his girlfriend. It seemed safe enough. This plan had potential.
I thought it would be smart to go bowling, a spur of the moment decision, calculated in the unexplainable battle focus that takes place in a young man’s mind during the hyper-alertness that happens directly before he asks a woman for a date. I decided on bowling for one reason, I am not any good at bowling. I thought that there wasn’t a better way to make a girl warm up to me than to fail gracefully in front of her, laughing the whole way through. It also seemed a good idea to work as a team for a period to build some closeness and comradery. Anyway, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I hoped she didn’t change her mind, get a boyfriend or get married in the last five days. I held on to the number for nearly a week, too afraid to do anything about it. Finally, on Wednesday as I remember, I called her. I invited her to the date, movie and bowling.

She hadn’t decided she was furious at me for stalling so long, though she was anxious and wondering why in the world I wouldn’t call. She was fine with me picking her up the next day and sounded happy to go out. By the way, up to this point in the time, we were probably still only up to about twenty or so words which I can positively remember her sharing with me. She was still the beautiful mystery whose shell I was beginning to crack. The phone call probably put it closer to thirty.

Our first date was something rather special. Perhaps it wasn’t, compared to the first dates of others. Perhaps it was just another one of millions that millions have experience and not special at all. It is special to me though. At the very least, it went much better than most first dates did for me.

Our first date movie was “Old School” staring Will Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Luke Wilson. It was a hopelessly awkward experience for a first date movie between two teenagers. If you’re not familiar with the film, just know that it is a very odd choice for such an occasion, most especially the carrot class scene featuring Andy Dick. That’s all I will really mention about that.

More than the movie, looking back I remember the way she held my hand. I honestly didn’t know if she was really into me when we walked into the theater, and then she held my hand. It was so tight and all-encompassing, almost as if she was afraid I might suddenly escape and run away if she ever chanced letting me be free. I became very nervous. I had never really had anyone show me attention and affection in a romantic sense yet. No girl ever made me feel special without playing games. This was the first time, and even though I wanted it, more than anything, it scared me very much. Still, I was smart enough to just accept it. Being loved too much is a kind of concern that fades with time, and you really learn to enjoy it.

After the movie we went bowling. At the lanes we hit a snag. It turns out there is such a thing as “league night”. No exceptions for star-crossed lovers. I was a bit flustered. I had no plans from this point. We all decided to just wing it from this point on. My friends went off together and Jennie and I went together as well. I suggested a local pizza place not far away. We sat down and started to talk. I was really afraid that it would be just me talking in silence the whole night, but she opened up nicely. It turned out, she confessed to me, that she was terrified at the idea of going bowling. I asked her why and she told me that she just assumed that, since it was the first thing that popped into my mind, (and that it was so weird, which I found out years later) I must have loved bowling. I must have been great at it. She must have imagined me with the odd shoes, eyes focused and with a determined look on my face, gliding up to the lanes for a release with perfect form. She just knew that she would show up, lob the ball like a drunken duck and I would be furious with her for making us lose. I realize that she couldn’t have known that I had planned on being terrible, but I can see how she would have been afraid that I’d be mad at her. She really is terrible at bowling. I would find that out later. I just couldn’t believe how wrong she was about my motives. It’s worth a laugh.

We talked about the nothings that people do on their first romantic evening together. She reminded me of things I had forgotten. For example, I had forgotten that on that day during enrollment, it was her that I had shown around the school. As quiet as she was, it seemed I had forgotten altogether that it was her. And again that same year, I had forgotten about my confession I gave about not getting a girlfriend and the following counseling I took from her during art class. I would have forgotten a lot if not for her. She told me what her real first impressions were on that first day, she thought I was an arrogant jackass. She also told me how ironic it was that I would confess all those things about never getting a girlfriend to her when she had such a crush on me the whole time. We laughed about what it would have been like if I had only asked the question. I never knew at all. We joked for a while. I told her about how this restaurant was where my mom had brought me to teach me how to take a girl out on a proper date when I was ten. I hoped Jennie wouldn’t think that was off for talking about something like that, but she thought it was sweet. Honestly, men don’t know how to handle being called “sweet”, but I considered it good thing. We talked about when we were little we both used to play the games in the back corner and enjoyed our pizza.
I remember thinking about how so much of our lives we shared so many of the same experiences living in the same tiny town. We were dragged to the same grocery store with our moms, went to the same daycare, and played the same arcade games at the same pizza places. We had likely crossed paths hundreds of times, never realizing that we were more than just background in the crowd to each other. Eventually, we would matter to one another, that other random girl in the crowd would be grown and sitting opposite me at this table.

Eventually, it came time to go home. One thing to know about where we lived is that nothing is close. Everything good is twenty miles away at least. It’s a hassle when the economy is in the tank, but the silver lining is that there is always a lot of time to talk on the way to where you’re going. I don’t know at all what we talked about, just that I didn’t really want the conversation to end. We reached her home and I walked her to her door. I had a decision to make that I just knew I was going to screw up. I told her goodnight and that I had a lot of fun. I asked her then for a second date and said goodbye. No kiss, just goodbye.

We didn’t have our first kiss until the next date. It was my first. It was in my room on a bean bag that would be a very important part of our life for far longer than it deserved. The movie we were watching didn’t really matter all. It wasn’t very interesting anyway, not nearly as interesting as melting through this mysterious girl’s icy walls.

I was hers from then on.

I don’t remember a time where we weren’t trying to be together from that day on through the end of high school. Even through hard times, of which there were many.

Many times we would be alone in my room. She would be very silent and very distant. I could tell something was obviously wrong. She usually had just come from spending time with her father. She would clam up and it was impossible to get her to talk. It may have been perhaps a poor decision for most, but I wouldn’t let her not talk to me. I feel I have to always express myself. I don’t know how someone could live not doing so, especially given what I would find out she was suffering through.

She would lock up for maybe an hour at a time. Jennie would just lay there crying silently and motionless, looking as if there was something she wished to say, but couldn’t. I finally discovered the trick to unlocking her. I promised I would stop asking her.

“This is the last time I will ask you, and then I promise to leave you alone.”
I don’t know if it was some sense of avoiding abandonment, or the desperation that I put on her that she wouldn’t get another chance, but she opened up, always. She told me about what had gone on between her father and her mother over the last few years. Without going into details, it was a very ugly time. Divorce of parents is a terrible burden to endure when you are young, but a common story among people my age. We all seem to be raised this way. I was a child of divorce too, only my story ended happily when my father wasn’t part of the picture. Jennie was going through something altogether more terrible. She loved both her parents. Watching them dissolve was a horrific ordeal for her.

It was worse than that actually, as I would come to understand, much later. Jennie’s room next to the living room, where her parent’s fought nightly. She was in the middle of it all and completely alone. She was the older of two sisters and did what she could to prevent her younger sister from knowing what she could. Their parent’s relationship had grown bitter and their rivalry tore the girls apart. It also explained a great deal of the idiosyncrasies I was growing to know in this girl lying beside me. Every day, she was beaten with the knowledge that her parents were not the people she thought they were. They were less. They were human with human flaws, human weaknesses, human cruelties and human failures. She had lost the naïve worship of a child looking at the perfect people who raised her. The worst of it happened in freshman year. Now it made sense that the girl never talked.

I also came at a time when she really needed it. As it turned out, I asked Jennie for her number not a week after her parent’s divorce was final. After four years of heartbreak, I just arrived on the scene.

I didn’t understand the scope of it all. I just listened. I didn’t need anything from her, besides a kiss from time to time, I just wanted to help her. If anything, I think those afternoons talking on my bed were probably the wisest investment of time I have ever made. We built our relationship during those times; not the enjoyable memories you visit on cold winter days, but the foundational emotions that make up the true bedrock of a relationship. She knew that she could trust me with her deepest needs, even if it was difficult for her to express them. I just knew I wasn’t able to idly do nothing. At that time all I could do was listen and try to give her some new perspective, some advice, distractions, silver linings. Jennie told me once that she was apprehensive about opening up to me in the beginning. She was just sure that I would break up with her because she was a crazy person and that she was very thankful that I never did. I couldn’t believe she would think that. I suppose some guys might have, but the thought never crossed my mind.

The truth was that I needed her too. I was lonely and needed someone to need me back. Honestly speaking, I could have ended up in a very bad situation with a lot of very girls with far less character than Jennie. I probably would have been the type to fall for any of them. I’ve seen many a lonely individual give in to the temptation of women not worth their attention, but that, however, wasn’t my bad luck. I found Jennie. For whatever reason, she was perfect, as least the perfect I needed. She was soft and she was gentle and supportive. She was a steadiness that balances my erratic and irrational randomness. Most girls I probably would have fallen for would have left me devastated, but Jennie was exactly who I needed and who would be able to make me happy. We really did need each other and ways I can’t fathom, even today. I just didn’t realize it then.

We were the perfect couple, though and had many wonderful memories from that first month. One of my favorites from our brief courtship was the first time she cooked for me.

She invited me to her house for dinner. It was the first real-time I met her mom and her sister, Katie, officially anyway. I’d met her mom briefly before our first date, but I didn’t actually know her yet. I knew Jennie’s sister from school. She was only fifteen months younger than Jennie so there was the very strange situation that they grew up together almost as twins. Katie gave me the finger once after Jennie and I started dating. I wasn’t fond of her back then. A vial creature Jennie’s sister was back in those days, but that’s a different story. Today though, it was about me eating from Jennie’s plate. Jennie was cooking her chicken enchiladas. I was really nervous because I had never had enchiladas and was terrified that I would hate my girlfriend’s favorite dish. Turns out that wasn’t a problem. Jennie is a master chef, at least in my eyes. More importantly my stomach was in complete agreement. It was so good. Absolutely delicious. I love my mom and my grandmother, but my poor mother never stood a chance in the kitchen. I don’t know what it was about those days, but all of my mom’s tutelage in kitchen affairs came from a long line of Depression era survivor women who thought “burnt” was the only palatable way to eat food without death by salmonella. But Jennie, her food was marvelous. It was how I might imagine chewing on the wings of baby angels. Just thinking about it is so good you start writing nonsense. I don’t even remember what we had for dessert. Those enchiladas were divine.

I had gorged myself to the point that I had to have something more to drink. I pulled myself away to get something from the fridge. Among the things I noticed was the milk. There were two gallons; one Skim, one 2%. Now, this may seem a bit odd, to some rather stupid, but I really love milk and it is one of those things which I am very particular about. I don’t like 2% or 1% and certainly not whole. Keep it away, don’t bother me with and yes, I do think less of you if you do partake in such things. I sorry if this offends some of you, but a person who doesn’t believe in anything is simply not a person. It simply isn’t a negotiation. I looked and considered the gravity of the consequences that lay before me. If Jennie drank the wrong milk, to put it simply, we had no future, even considering the enchiladas.

“So… who drinks Skim?”

“I do,” said my beautiful flower.

I smiled and said, “Me too.”

In my mind I smiled to myself and thought about all the miraculous ways in which we were perfectly compatible in every way that mattered. I laughed inwardly and said to myself in jest that I was going to marry that girl.

It was completely in jest. Completely.