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Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Not From a Good Family"

I have a teenaged daughter: smart, funny, well read, multilingual, intensely patriotic, acerbic or charming as needed, and--woe is me--pretty. Lots of drama, of course, as teenaged girls seem vying for Oscars 24 hours a day. They all carry the Meryl Streep gene.

Having such a daughter creates a four-letter problem for me, to wit, boys. I don't like them around her; I don't want her talking about or to the vile creatures. I know what boys are like . . . sigh . . . probably a losing battle. Since, therefore, it seems highly unlikely that we will get rid of the boys, the least the Diplowife and I can do is make sure she dates one from--drumroll--a "good family." How to tell if the daughter is dating someone from a "good family"? That is the topic of today's 99% politics-free post.

A warning: After all these years, my memory is an improperly scraped and reused palimpsest. Bits and pieces of the previous mix in with the later. Hard to keep it all in exact chronological order, but here I go.

The place, Guatemala. The time, 1989-91. I worked at the Embassy for a terrific political appointee Ambassador--now sadly deceased--and had a great job, great friends, great guns, and an adventuresome life for a relatively young man. The political situation in the country was highly unstable. We didn't know it at the time but the big Communist guerrilla movements were in their death throes; what we saw was that they still created a lot of mayhem both in Guatemala and in neighboring El Salvador. I remember one visit to El Salvador: warm tropical night,  floating on an air mattress in a friend's pool, smoking a good Honduran Don Tomas, watching the helicopters overhead pumping tracer rounds into the mountainside while a Special Forces buddy floating next to me explained, between drags on his cigar, what was happening. In Guatemala, too, I remember eating at a nice outdoors restaurant in Ciudad Vieja, while a T-33 dropped bombs on guerrilla positions in the nearby hills. War as a spectator sport; war as pre-entre entertainment; war as a vignette. No real thought about real people killed and injured.

Guatemala City lay under a thick fog of unease, more than the usual for that troubled place. The guerrillas had hit the power lines, causing intermittent blackouts; the death squads were very active; ordinary criminals were taking advantage of the unrest; home owners and businessmen were taking the law into their own hands, setting homeless men on fire, and having hit men kill street urchins and vagrants. We had the kids sleep on the floor because of the nightly gunfire, most of it from drunk or spooked guards in neighboring houses. To add to the festivities, somebody had brought crates of Chinese grenades. These soon began showing up in the oddest places. A store got held up at "grenade point." In another store, the owner defended his establishment by throwing a grenade at the would-be robbers. One morning somebody in a passing car flung one of the things at the Embassy; it hit the perimeter wall, bounced into the street and went off with a window-shaking roar. Who was behind it? Nobody knew. Lots of theories; lots of explanations; no resolution. The grenades continued to go off.

So what does one do under these circumstances? Go out to dinner. Guatemala City had an amazing number of superb restaurants. One night, the Diplowife and I were having such a dinner at an excellent Mexican restaurant in the city's "Zona Rosa," when we heard some shots, and a very loud crash followed by a blast. The mariachis stopped playing, and the waiters froze . . . for about a second, and then the music and serving resumed. We had finished eating and were paying, so the Diplowife said the appropriate thing to do was to go see what had occurred. We walked down the street towards the El Camino Real Hotel; a crowd had gathered at the entrance, cars, police, military . . . and us.  We made our way to the front of this crowd. Two cars had collided. The driver of one was dead in his car, apparently shot by hotel security. His passenger had flown through the windshield and landed in the street. The grenade this passenger had been carrying had gone off, blowing away his hand and shredding the side of his head. He lay face down in the street, his pants part way down his legs.

The Diplowife surveyed the scene and offered her professional verdict, "He did not come from a good family. He is wearing red underwear. "

So now, my friends, you know. Before you allow your daughter to go to the movies with that kid she met at school, you check the punk's underwear. If it's red, throw him out. If, of course, he happens to be carrying hand grenades, you might also use that datum to question your daughter's judgment in boys.

I provide the above as a free public service for the parents of teenaged daughters.

29 comments:

  1. I will endeavor to make certain my boy doesn't wear red underwear. He is a tad young to be worrying about such stuff yet I hope

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  2. Ah,old fellow, Dip 2, pip pip and all that, Bloody Hell, bit of a bad show those blighters put on down in old Guatemala City, for you all, led to quite a chuckle, and a quick lookup of an abscure reference, far too dim in the memory banks to recall, but led to an interesting piece of some scholarly note, of late: http://www.archimedespalimpsest.org/ Enjoy....

    Just for fun, and a lesson well learned, the red underware....ha

    Jack

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  3. Sorry to say I did not have benefit of this insight 20 years ago, when my daughters were teenagers. They did ok, though -- all three marrying before having children, and marrying men who (as nearly as I can tell) did not and do not wear red underwear. I thank my lucky stars for that. As for war as a spectator sport, it's been many years. Very many -- Laos in 1969-70, to be exact. Got my first 1911 there, before the Pentagon fell in love with 9 mm Berettas. Ok, it's nice to have a few extra rounds in the magazine (unless you're sitting near Dianne Feinstein) but those rounds have to pack some punch too. That's why I've gone to a Sig in .40 S&W. Wouldn't find anyone wearing red underwear and carrying a Sig.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. F:
      Looks like we are close in age and places(not quite the same country) in the past. Yes a few years have passed. I wonder how the old Pathet Lao are doing these days?

      Delete
    2. James:

      I suspect the PL are doing very well. From what I've read about Laos after my departure, the communists took power and abolished the tripartite government. And it now appears the economy is picking up a little. From what I saw of the people of Laos, if they are allowed their own direction they will embrace free market policies very quickly even if they call themselves Communists. F

      Delete
    3. "if they are allowed their own direction they will embrace free market policies very quickly" hope so. Those PL were some pretty bad customers.

      Delete
    4. Having done three years at Embassy Vientiane, I can report they are doing nicely. Although there are still some 2CVs and a Studebaker Lark on the streets, Mercedes are becoming plentiful, and I saw an Alfa Romeo parked under a tarp on Route 13 between the old Kasi road/airstrip and the junction of 13 and the road to Phonesavan... The Embassy is scheduled to move south of town, on the road to the bridge to Nong Khai, to property traded for the Silver City compound seized in 75.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous: How do you know the nicer cars don't belong to Sino-Thai businessmen from the other side of the Mekong? Or Chinese traders from Yunnan, Guangxi, or Guangdong?

      Delete
  4. Wonder what color underwear John Kerry sports -- ketchup red perhaps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I won't be able to get that image out of my mind . . . thanks a lot . . .

      Delete
    2. Scary huh? Thanks for all you do.

      Delete
    3. AAAAAAAAAAh! That is seared, seared in my mind!
      charlie with his heart a flutter
      crouched down in abject fear
      he knew he dare not stutter
      for dread red underwear was near

      Delete
  5. Bad news - red underwear, Sig, veteran, conservative. I love my underarmor.

    And my wife's mother would agree about guys in red underwear.

    Heh!

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  6. You are such a hoot! As much as I crave your "political" rantings, your "non-political" tales are just as entertaining. Keep up the good work.

    Remember Benghazi!

    Liberty Grace's Grandma

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  7. Red underwear who knew! I have a pretty teen daughter who has been self weeding and no trouble so far. I can say am happy to get any and all boy sifting info that can be applied.

    As a child of a former dip your musings give color to my days.

    ReplyDelete
  8. When my daughter was first dating, she would, at my insistence, bring her callers to meet me first. I would always find a reason to have a conversation with these young, horny men in the kitchen, where I would pretend to be preparing a meal that required a can of beans, (Libby's was my favorite). I would always ask if their intentions with my daughter were innocent, while, in mid sentence, squeezing the can of beans like it was made of cardboard. The wider their eyes bugged, the more content I was.

    By the way, that can of Libby's was indeed made of cardboard. Bought them at the local joke store.

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  9. When my daughter was 16 I remember being told (and how true it was) a father's greatest fear is that some young punk will do to his daughter what he was trying to do to every one else's daughter 20 years before.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mr. Mad
    I had one too. My "People who I have to kill" list was quite long at times. I must caution you though, murder these days is bitch with all the paperwork.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It seems we were in Guatemala at the same time. I was there as part of ship's company of the USS Robison DDG-12 about April 23rd 1991 and a few days after. Perhaps you visited Puerto Quetzal that week to call on the Captain? It was a very interesting week (for us anyway). Maybe you remember it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did visit! I was in Guate from 1988 - 1992. Loved the place.

      Delete
  12. As one of the seven participants, Dip, I can say "God I love this site of yours" So much fun and humor, even adventure, and more. And in this spirit, for the times inbetweem new entries, and to stimulate continued humor among conservative grown ups, I contribute this site that I just found. It is rich with sarcastic rolliking conservative humor, like: "What If There Is a God and It's Not Barack Obama? what if there is some force other than government power that is responsible for the world in which we live?

    This unexpected schism is caused by recent experiments at the Large Handout Deficit Collider, in which generated sequester particles did not cause the universe to implode as predicted."
    : http://thepeoplescube.com/

    Great work, you're doing here, Dip! Keep it up, and get that book of adventures and humor in life finished, too.......
    Jack

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  13. Thanks to Mrs. for the tip on good breeding...bet Obama wears red undies...oops, didn't mean to get political

    ReplyDelete
  14. I (sort of) wish I could remember when my daughters were teenagers.

    Probably better off not though, "times have changed" and me putting something like locking them in the cellar on the internet might now be tantamount to child abuse.

    Arkie

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  15. In the culture from which my ex-diplowife comes, a male's red underwear is a sign that the guy would be more interested in your son's 肛门 than in your daughter's 阴道 (apologies to Chinese-readers lurking here if I seem indelicate).

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  16. I read with interest the part about "War as a spectator" sport. It was especially relevant, considering Holder has just advised Rand Paul the president has the authority to order drone strikes on the continental US.

    -Blake

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  17. Dip - Thanks for the tips. 6-7 years ago would have been useful as I have gotten my into college without "love" striking.

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  18. Fear not for your daughter.

    I have three daughters and went through triple your problems, though no suitors wore red underwear that I know of. All married late, even by todays standards. But all ended up marrying men whom they knew would pass the daddy test.

    I am confidendent you have instilled your values in your daughter. The daddy test is important to all ladies who come from backgrounds of strong family ties.

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  19. Thanks Dip for the laugh. You might like this t-shirt:
    http://www.spreadshirt.com/guns-dont-kill-people-dads-with-daughter-C3376A10096460

    ReplyDelete