Odd events have reached my attention concerning a fellow Sailor who has become entangled in a sullen adventure, the resolution of which is yet to be determined! I recount to you what little has been passed on to me through the news and personal correspondence in the hopes that you could apply your particular wisdom to the ordeal; which, if nothing else, promises to provide us both with interesting theological puzzles for future discussions.
I had best begin by describing my associate’s state of mind, because all action of the sort I’m about to relay begins as a jumble of un-inspired feelings which usually cease their importance directly after bubbling into the mind of the author. There are, on occasion, a jumble of feelings that do not go away. They become something more concrete and may, at this point in the evolution, be thought of as an inkling!
My friend, who, for convenience’s sake I’ll refer to as James, wasn’t the sort who often had inklings. His story was normal (from what I gather). He attended a government school without setting himself apart in any real way from his classmates. His parents attributed his unremarkable performance to an apathetic mood, though, being rather apathetic themselves, never thought to do much about it.
So James was greatly received the day he, quite unexpectedly, announced his intention to join the service. He had never shown interest before in this sort of heroism, at least, nothing seriously. So, what a joy it was, his parents concluded, that their boy was to make something so unexpected of himself! A true hero!
Of course, the seeds of James’ inkling were planted by his father, (most seeds are planted this way and the importance of fathers has been well noted in our previous conversations so I will not digress further on the topic.) The crime of his father, in the face of a pagan society, was to be inconsistently apathetic, letting, at certain times, an unfortunate ray of passion slip into the odd bed-time story or suffuse itself in a random dinner conversation. These, the young James latched onto passionately though in ignorance. They formed his countenance and guided his daydreams for quite awhile before giving birth to the inkling I’ve been describing.
So he joined the Navy, hoping to be a hero. But, during the course of the enlistment his inkling was forced to traverse the perilous gulf of abstraction and grow into a true idea! The Navy was not, as he had assumed, a welcome place for heroes. Rather it was demonstrated through many unfortunate events that he was surrounded by scoundrels! (Not all were scoundrels of course, for it was around this point in the story that I was stationed in Washington D.C. and the two of us became acquainted. While I am too modest to boast of myself, I hope you forgive me for presuming to be somewhat less than a scoundrel!)
James immediately concluded that his idea could not be supported by further enlistments; though by this time his entire adult life had been given to a false pursuit and he despaired of ever having any sort of sustainable living. Furthermore, his inkling had evolved into a very big idea and he felt imposed upon for the first time in all of his life!
True, he had joined in the rants of his fellow political ideologues, but he had never truly felt oppressed by those ideas that he opposed. He and I, on occasion, were known to quarrel with various dissenting factions within the Republican Party. His internal struggle became more apparent to me over time as I noticed him drifting further and further from acceptable dispositions.
I remember telling him once, “James, if you’re not careful with talk of that sort, people may think you’re an extremist!” He replied with startling passion, “It takes one to know one Scott!” At the time his reply was enigmatic, but the events which took place afterwords clarified his indictment against a woefully inept society.
I felt that, for awhile, James had curbed his passions, at least publicly, and was content to stew in personal ruminations. But this state is unbecoming for heroes as well as villains, and so its with a mixture of admiration and repulsion that I recount the following episode; an account that describes, at least in my opinion, the culmination of James’ very big and true idea into a full fledged conviction:
He heard of an event being sponsored a few counties over that boasted Virginia Senator John Warner as one of the guests. Due to the out-of-the-way locale it promised to be an intimate gathering, and after inquiring about my wishes, reserved four places for us and our female companions.
It became something of a race to see which of us would persuade a young lady first, and with some small trouble on my part, (though James was never bothered by this sort of thing) we were both suitably coupled for the evening.
James had introduced himself to a wonderful dark-haired woman named Amanda one Sunday at the church he attended. After a bit of clever conversation she readily accepted his invitation. I can’t imagine how the poor girl feels when looking back, but I believe that her character is a sturdy material and she appreciates the events that transpired.
I found the company of Ms. Sarah, a waitress at our local pub, very agreeable, and since we were already on fair terms, invited her along with the understanding that there were no romantic feelings in the proposal and that I merely desired her company for the evening. (That she saw through my lie would make for an interesting, though far-less exciting, story.)
We arrived early and mingled with the crowd. James and I, being unaccustomed to this sort of fare, were dressed in a way that stressed the limits of acceptability. We both had on our jeans and a nice shirt. James even had enough credulity to wear cowboy boots! We made quite the site as we walked through the dining hall among the tuxedos and high-class attire. Our dates, on the other-hand, had a seeming 6th sense for fashion, as ladies often do, and were dressed magnificently. To their credit, they neither ignored our awkward dress, or allowed it to embarrass them; rather, as true ladies, they confidently supported our choice. Amanda, being a bit flirtatious in a youthful and charming way, made an off-hand comment about the way James’ boots’n’jeans complimented his bottom, leaving James quite thrown for a few minutes. A condition which I hate to admit, I took great pleasure in witnessing!
Things went pleasant enough during dinner, though after a few glasses of wine I suggested to James, in a quiet voice, that he had best slow down. I knew that he wasn’t taken to public indiscretion, and I couldn’t fathom what he was planning.
After dinner, the crowd retired to a parlor room, where Senator Warner intended to entertain us with a speech. As he lectured on the droll and life-less talking-points of the Republican Party, James was shifting restlessly next to me. At times, he would offer some sarcastic or overly-critical commentary on what was being said. At other times, specifically when Senator Warner would theatrically pause to receive applause, James would make it a point not to clap at all.
“I was stupid to have come to this Scott. If not for the good food and pleasant company, I’d consider this night an incredible loss. I’m dumber for having listened to this man.”
“I know you feel strongly about this James,” I replied, “but I didn’t know you had descended into complete disdain! What of the talking points? He may not be the best speaker, but you can’t argue with what he’s saying?”
“I can and consider it my duty to do just that!” he said, sardonically.
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