Wednesday, September 20, 2006

5 (?) December 1955

During the night my sore throat mellowed & blossomed into a case of pseudo-pneumonia, causing me to keep half the compartment awake by continual sniffling, wheezes, & futile attempts to breathe. You never realize what a job it is to breathe until you try.

So the day got off to not exactly a flying start, liberally interspersed with trips to the head for toilet paper—which is much cheaper than handkerchiefs, even though the capacity is limited.

The only thing of even vague interest, aside from our sailing away from picturesque Sardinia, was that a homosexual was discovered on board. How, I neither know nor care, but the whole matter was handled with such obvious inconspicuosity that the whole ship knew about it. I was sure we would all be invited to the flight deck for a public stoning. Instead, he was shuffled off in a helicopter to an unknown but assuredly unpleasant fate. Homosexuals are viewed by the Navy in the same light as witches & little men with ticking briefcases.

Mail call today, which instead of helping my battered spirits, only kicked them harder. For one thing, the letters from home were dated later than the last ones I’d gotten, but were written asking questions & saying things they had known & mentioned before —have I received my camera? Did the cookies come? And last time, dad had told me how much to ask for my old camera, now that the new one was here. It was quite disconcerting, to say the least. And then came two letters from my auto insurance company, addressed to NavCad F.R. Margason, which went over like a concrete dirigible.

Tomorrow we land, or rather anchor, in Genoa, Italy. This afternoon I exchanged American money for Italian Lire—huge, 6"12" sheets of paper, which struck me as being not only unhandy but downright cumbersome. Italian money is not the least bit pretty as were French Francs, but they both employ the watermark. On either side of the center of the bills is a white space, apparently blank—but when held up to the light, a face can be seen in each; quite ingenious, but I still prefer good old American greenbacks.

There must be quite a battle raging inside my head, for I’m constantly flushing gallons of semi-fluids from my nose. I’m considering installing a spigot.

I have been informed by Mr. Coutre that what I have been writing, aside from my physical woes, is treason, detrimental to the Navy, scandalous, & not nice. The Navy must be considered by all as a living Post Office poster. No doubt this is true, but being an incurable romanticist, I still believe in freedom of speech. In a few short moments I could be transformed from an average airman to a hardened criminal, strongly suspected of having Communist leanings. My court martial would be held by several zealous gentlemen no doubt violently waiving American flags while sentencing me to, at least, an Undesirable discharge.

The difficulty with being pure white is that it cannot remain that way while there are other colors around. America, if she allows all the freedoms in their widest sense, leaves herself wide open for the powers wishing to destroy her. Yet she cannot forbid these freedoms and still remain America.

My outlook on life might be compared to a news article I read sometime back. It concerned a 19 year old boy who had a loose tissue or nerve in the back of his throat. The result was that he ticked—not audibly; only he could hear it. He never mentioned it because he took it for granted that everybody ticked. That is my problem—have I something no one else has, & do not realize it? Or, more likely, does everyone have something I don’t have? Everyone else manages to muddle through life naturally enough, but for me, life is one great mystery after another.

Tatoo, which means nothing except that taps will be in five minutes.

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