How Did You Look?


J. D. Pendry


Some Sunday afternoons thereís not much that interests me.Whenever itís like that, the NFL playoffs make it tough to concentrate.The Colts just clobbered the Broncos.Between games, maybe I can put together a few words with no socially redeeming value Ė sort of like your favorite talk show host.If youíre a true fan of the NFL, read this weekís Bunker Devotional dedicated to one of its best on and off the field.


Letís see.We could talk about the Tsunami.We could talk about the War.We could talk about politics.We could talk about the Palestinian elections, which Jimmy Carter, snicker, snicker, will certify.But, those subjects are what everyone is talking about.Besides, my opinions relating them would probably get me more hate mail.My hate mail is interesting.Almost all of it begins, ďA friend of mine sent your blabbering to meÖĒ†† Iím not in the mood for hate mail this week.

I think I was 14 give or take a few months.My heathen friends, so described by my Mother, and I decided that we needed tattoos to achieve a higher level of cool.We didnít have money to buy professional ones, but we did have enough to buy a bottle of India ink.My left forearm has ever since sported my name in letters of kiddygarten quality.Iím fortunate though.Iím not trying to hide a permanent born to raise hell on my arm.Paul, the Bunker Chaplain, tells me he weighed 98 pounds and most of that weight was his Afro hairdo.Paul has since gained some body weight and lost some hair weight.Paulís do and my tattoo had something in common.Both were part of our seeking acceptance.So, how did you look Ė when you were a hormone-ravaged teenager?


Thanks to dear old Mom, rest her soul, my wife has a great collection of youthful photographs of yours truly.She uses them to embarrass me.I keep forgetting to hide them when company is expected.Iím good for a few laughs if the evening is otherwise boring.I donít mind the buck-toothed fourth grader pictures which look as normal as any buck-toothed fourth grader.Itís those teenage pictures.I looked as odd as any teenager youíll encounter today.I wonder why my parents allowed my tattooed young self out in public. One day, Iíll drop my history in the shredder.


Today, I see young men wearing clothes that are nine sizes too large.The waistlines of their oversized britches have moved down to their knees.That itself is enough, but add a winter hat pulled down over their eyebrows, earrings and enough tattoos to make my four-letter brand look practically normal.The young women are almost dressed with hip hugging jeans exposing bellybuttons.Theyíre all yakking on cell phones or attached to Ipods, or both.You wonder why their parents allow them out in public.


I donít get too concerned about them.When Su shows everyone pictures of my Greaser phase, or my Beach Boy phase, or my Hippie phase I point out how remarkably normal I turned out.Imagine, from Hippie to Basic Combat Training Drill Sergeant to career soldier in just a few short years.Kids of today are just like the kids of my day and your day.Theyíre trying to fit in and will do the same dumb things you and I did to fit in.Most of them will pass through this phase and revert to the values modeled by you.So, now you can worry if youíre raising them right.


There is a problem.Surely you didnít think Iíd leave you with nothing to ponder.Most of us are still trying to fit in.We say what the group wants to hear, even when we donít believe it.We dress like the rest of the group.We claim to watch the same television, listen to the same music, go to the same restaurants, read the same booksÖ. and weíre mostly miserable because of it.


I gave up seeking acceptance from people with which I had little in common.It makes for short conversations, but clears the clutter from my mind.I especially like it when they look at my left forearm and ask, ďWhoís Dave?Ē




Read Paul Schneidmill's Weekly Devotional


J.D. Pendry is author of The Three Meter Zone, Random House/Ballantine.

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