In 1958, after investing a few years in the Navy reserve and obtaining rank of Third Class Petty Officer (E-4), my father went down to the recruiting station to enlist fearing he might lose his rank if he was drafted into the Army. This particular afternoon the Navy recruiter wasn’t in his office, but the Marine Corps recruiter was. After a brief conversation, being assured he would keep his rank, my father enlisted and became a Marine. Semper Fi.
Funny thing about salesmen, whether they’re selling cars, or military service, they all have one thing in common; they lie.
Welcome to the Marine Corps Private Pontillo!
In terms of discipline, there is a fairly wide divide between the Navy and Marine Corps. Those Marine Corps dudes are tough, and I not so fondly recall a fairly strict upbringing where not doing what you were told the first time was rewarded with punishment exponentially more uncomfortable than simply accomplishing the chore at hand on the first go around.
In addition to learning to do what I was told, I also became proficient with a rifle at a young age thanks to Dad’s time as a Marine Corps sharpshooter. I had my first B-B gun at five, and could hit bottle caps consistently at fifty feet with my trusty Crossman 760 and open sights, by ten.
My dad really most appreciated the country lifestyle from his upbringing, and even though my sister and I were raised in the city, somehow Dad managed to infiltrate our city existence with country life. We raised chickens in the backyard and I even have one really good goat story Sake Mike loves to retell.
Dad was also an avid hunter as I was growing up, but he seemed to give it up before I was old enough to go with him. When buddy Mike invited me to go hunt pigs with him and the SnapOn Guy, I happily agreed, never having been hunting. Of course I didn’t know Mike was going to make me pay for the whole trip.
We had to meet at four thirty in the morning in order to make it to the Camp 5 Ranch in Paso Robles early enough to get a good hunting day in. SnapOn Guy is an ardent hunter and we were meeting at one of his client’s businesses. His client had all sorts of stuffed animal heads on the walls, and with a few off-color jokes Mike and I were offered some coffee to start out the day. No doubt about it, these were authentic good ole boys. I didn’t have to worry about being stuck in the sticks with a liberal on this trip.
Mike didn’t shave all week and I when I asked what was up with his scruffy face on our ride to the ranch, all he could say was, I’m a hunter.
I think he watches too much Porky Pig. I told him cartoons were for entertainment, not real life lessons. The closest Mike’s ever been to shooting a rifle is at Oktoberfest after six pints at the pellet gun shooting gallery. After completely missing the target four shots in a row the assistant asked him if he knew how to use the sights.
It’s neat to have an idiot buddy. No matter how bad you screw up, you can always point and say, At least I â€˜m not as dumb as that guy.
So we made it to camp, and since it seemed Mike was the least experienced in our bunch, the guides determined they would help him find the first pig. Our guide Adam was a hell of a nice kid and took Mike, myself, and SnapOn guy’s buddy Craig out to a clearing about a mile from camp where some pigs were spotted. Adam stopped just over the hill where the pigs were thought to be grazing, and we all got out and walked briskly up over the hill.
SnapOn Guy told us to take lots of bullets, we might need them. On our walk, Mike and I jingled like an old man’s pants full of change and Adam stopped us, Whose got shells in their pocket?
We just gave him that retarded stare a child gives, caught doing something he’s not suppose to do.
Well separate them or something for crying out loud, they can hear us I can tell where this pig hunt is headed Adam lamented.
Believe it or not, we made it up the hill without scaring all the pigs away and Mike bagged the first one. Lucky we were in a clearing, it was easy to drive the truck up close so we didn’t have to drag that sucker far. Adam cut the pigs belly ready to take out the internals and I reminded Mike, the hunter was the one who needed to gut him. Mike turned three shades whiter in about half a second and I thought he was going to pass out on the spot.
Hunter my ass.
Later that afternoon I got my pig. It was almost as big a fiasco as Mike’s hunt. Our new guide (let’s just call him The Republican) had me line up on a pig after resting my rifle on a tree stump. Just before I was about to shoot he stopped me to line up on another pig because he thought Craig could get a better shot on mine. It was like I forgot how to shoot a rifle or something. I sure didn’t need to rest on a log. I kneeled down lined up and shot hitting my sow at about 125 yards. She was quartering away from me and I hit her spine. She fell down a little hill, but then got up with her front legs and started moving. I was a little excited and fired another shot way high. Our guide had already headed up the road and was about twenty feet in front of me; he was away at a forty-five degree angle and not in danger of being hit, but I really shouldn’t have taken that second shot.
It was dark by the time we got loaded up with the pig and all of our gear and packed ourselves into the little truck, me in the front passenger seat, our guide, The Republican, driving, Mike behind him and Craig behind me. So here the four of us are with our rifles, some perhaps loaded; just the perfect time to start talking politics.
So, I bet you don’t get many Democrats up here often , I blurted out.
Oh, most of the folks we get up here are pretty sensible , The Republican replied, happy to engage my query.
We bantered about freely, puzzled trying to comprehend liberal ideologies. After a few moments Craig joined the fray. Actually, I’m a business owner and I’m a Democrat.”
The first subject for debate was abortion, and our Democrat friend was happy to proclaim abortion shouldn’t be illegal. I tried to suggest that overturning Roe vs. Wade would not make abortion illegal, it would only take Federal authority from the issue and place it in its rightful place within the authority of state governments. I further suggested that abortion was not a right which should be elevated to the venerable level of Constitutional right. Government’s role must always be to support responsible behavior and moral action, and has no business encouraging or supplementing the occurrence of abortion.
I think I lost them when I said, venerable level of Constitutional right.
Shortly the discussion comprised:
Shut up!, Shut up!, Shut up!
Clinton’s a piece of
Halliburton ripped us off.
Cheney is scum
There were no WMD’s!
I thought The Republican was going to kick Craig out of the truck. Mike and I got real quiet while these guys went nuts. Mike later told me Craig kept winking at him with one of those watch this looks continuing to fling out zingers that sent The Republican into a tizzy.
Craig used the typical liberal debating technique where you never engage points, but continuously change the subject and add in ever more antagonistic rhetoric.
I agreed with most of what The Republican had to say, I just thought his delivery wasn’t going to win any converts.
We definitely had a spirited conversation, but I think the moral of the story would be, don’t talk politics in a little truck with rifles.
On the way home, Mike, fresh with testosterone flowing throughout his pig killing body told me, I’m gonna get home, I gonna get out my arrow, and I gonna hunt my wife!
That’s great Mike?!
After everything was said and done, we had a pretty good time and we’ll probably go try again someday, but Mike and I are not really hunters, regardless what Mike says. The truth be told, I would just assume shoot liberals than pigs, but then again, what’s the difference?
Copyright 2007 Jim Pontillo