Subject: No Chickens in the Desert
Date: 04 Jan 1999 00:00:00 GMT
From: email@example.com (Jim Vandewalker)
We're going up to Washington on the 14th for the "enurnment"
of my mother's ashes. They're going to be put in the same
grave with my father in Arlington National Cemetary. That's
sort of the family buryin' ground; my grandfather,
grandmother, and uncle are all there.
Dad was what used to be called a "China sailor." In the
Navy between WWI and WWII he served in the Pacific Fleet:
Pearl Harbor, Manila, Shanghai, and what was then French
Indochina. He told stories, of course, about the ships he'd
sailed on, and the sailors he'd served with. During the 20s
he was on the USS Whipple, the destroyer escort that towed
the San Pablo, one of the Navy's last river gunboats in
China, out to sea and scuttled her.
He also told stories about the men (it was all men in those
days) in the armed forces of other nations. British
sailors, "Limeys," were notoriously slow to buy a round,
though the envy of Americans because they actually received
a rum ration on board ship.
In port in Saigon, the Paris of the Orient, or in Haiphong,
he naturally met up with the French Foreign Legion. He said
they were fine men to go drinking with even though they
never had any money. When M. Proprietor came around with
"l'addition" the legionaires would scowl and pull about two
inches of bayonet out of its scabbard, and mutter blackly,
M. Proprietor would then scuttle back to his hole, counting
himself fortunate that his establishment was still in one
Here's a French Foreign Legion story.
"Ahh, Navee," said a bullet-headed legionaire, surveying the
boulevard, and the girls passing in their ao-dais. "This is
fine duty 'ere, with many poules -- 'ow you say, chee-kens.
Ha-ha! Not like some places I 'ave been." He leaned back in
his chair and puffed a foul French cigarette.
"Merde. 'ow can you drink that cat's water?" The legionaire
looked at my beer, and tilted the Pernod bottle. He poured
the clear liquor into his glass and watched it turn milky
white in the water.
"Zut alors, mon ami." He leaned forward in his chair and
shifted his cigarette from one side of his mouth to the
other. "Shall I tell you of my first posting dans La Legion?
À l'Afrique when I was but l'infant. I was sent to Algerie,
far out in the desert. There were no poules in the desert,
"We guarded sand! Sable! Thousands of hectares of sand!
Kilometres of sand! So that it could not be stolen by the
Bedouin, hein? We did our duty well -- not one grain of sand
did those Bedouin voleurs make off with, non!
"I was jeune, 'ow you say, young, and the anciens, the
veterans, would cause me to 'ave all the merde -- the bad
duties, you know? But I work 'ard because La Legion is ma
mère et mon père now.
"But finally I realize that it 'as been many days since I
'ave been in the desert. And there 'ave been no poules! Je
trouve le vieux caporal -- I find the old caporal and ask
'im what is to be done for l'amour.
"'e winks 'is eye at me, and points to the stable. 'Nous
utilisons le chameau,' 'e says. 'We use the camel.' I am
'orrified! In the stable is the disgusting fleabag of an
ancient she-camel! The caporal only laughs.
"At the end of the month, quand nous sommes payés, when we
are paid, the others they go to the shed of the camel and
they all go inside. I am revolted! I cannot watch more, me!
I flee inside the casernes, the barracks! The others they
are gone from their lits, their bunks, tout la nuit. They
come back in the matin. Ils sont fatigués mais heureux!
"The next month it is the same. I watch the others go to the
shed of the camel. I turn away. But the time it goes on and
still there are no poules, no chee-kens, in the desert,
hein? Je suis faible par manque d'amour.
"At the end of the third month I almost join the others. At
the last moment je ne puis pas, I cannot. The next month is
worse than what 'as gone before. Finally I can stand no
more. I tell the vieux caporal I will go to the camel.
"I fling open the shed door and pull my pantalons about my
ankles and lift the camel's tail. I cannot describe what
comes next. Afterward I pull up my pantalons and turn to the
door of the shed where the caporal and the others all are
"'It was 'orrible!" I cry. ''ow can you degrade yourselves
so every month?'
"'Eh bien,' says the caporal, 'Nous utilisons le chameau, we
use the camel to ride to the nearby village where there is
une maison de jeunes filles, a houseful of young girls.'
The legionaire leaned back in his chair and put his feet up.
"Garçon! Pernod encore, s'il vous plaît."
Jim the Prophet
Licensed SubGenius Preacher