An open letter to locdog

by Michael Ryerson

Well, you’re gone. If you’re to be believed one last time, you are now pulling on a uniform every morning. I’ve decided to post this letter to you now because there were still things to be said but I didn’t want to talk to you. Talking to you had ceased being fun a couple of years ago. I’m not going to say good luck nor bon voyage nor thanks. I said all those things, and more, the first time you announced your imminent departure, and the second time and I was still saying some of them the third time. By the fourth going away party, I was starting to feel vaguely cheated, my arm sore from throwing confetti, my face tired from smiling that smile of gratitude saved for when the ‘boys’ go marching by. No, I thought the time had arrived to return the wedding gifts, call back the wedding invitations, cancel the caterer. The wedding was off, locdog was the runaway bride. But now you say you’re ‘in’ and I’m willing to believe you one last time.

If it’s true, you’ve begun to learn a few things you only suspected until now. At twenty-eight you’re too old. Doesn’t seem fair does it? Twenty-eight, too old. But the kids will be quicker and will heal faster and you can’t do anything about it. Physically, you’re going to work your ass off just to stay in the middle of the pack. Get used to it. Your advantage, if you have one, is maturity. You should ‘see’ things clearer than the kids, should understand the implications before they do. You should get a jump on the ball, a little head start. But just a little one. Don’t waste it.

You are now seeing the reality of what ‘the service’ means in a way you never appreciated before. You raised your hand, took the oath and control of your life passed from your hands to the hands of an absolute stranger and in some instances, a stranger who does not necessarily have your best interests at heart. You will look up periodically and find yourself taking orders from some mouth-breathing fucker who can’t cut it on the outside, so he’s hiding out in the service and now you’re his meat. You’ll see your welfare, maybe your very survival, depends on this prick making good decisions and he doesn’t look like he could work his way through the menu down at the local Denny’s. It will take your breath away.

You are going to see things and places you’ve only imagined. The reality will surprise you. You’ll be struck at how completely different they are. How daydreaming about things, how theorizing, how hearing stories about things is no substitute for doing them. This should broaden you, should soften your view of the world, give you pause when you are ready to argue about what’s right and wrong. You should begin to suspect you don’t know everything, after all. Certainty will make you uncomfortable. This is what should happen but there are no guarantees. I worry about you, worry about your doctrinaire view of the world. You may come back a renaissance man or a martinet. The issue is in doubt.

And finally, let me make you a promise. You are not forgotten. As control of your life passed into the hands of that stranger, a little corner of that control passed into my hands, too. You see, in a democracy, you are now my responsibility. Of The People, by The People and for The People is not an empty phrase. You are in my ‘service’. I will do my best to raise a reasoned and persistent voice in your defense when I think unscrupulous men are unnecessarily placing you in danger. I will hold them accountable. I will be your advocate.

Michael Ryerson