Protect the Package
Apparently, everyone that is involved with Ranger Up is a dumbass. Here’s author Kelly Crigger’s own personal Dumbass Chronicle. If you dig it, check out his limited edition signed book at the bottom of the page!
Dumbassery can take many forms. Some of us are born into it, physically lacking the appropriate mental filters to stop our mouths from creating situations of eternal regret. Some of us are so impressionable that we become over-affected by our environment and metamorphose from cautiously quaint to crazy brave when we see other people taking unnecessary risks. Still others spend their youth sheltered from common culture and journey through their formative years on blackout drive, lacking the ability to recognize what is so obvious to everyone else.
Such is the curious case of Private Crigger.
Every male member of the Crigger family was a soldier going back to 1860, but unlike Lieutenant Dan, none of them had fallen on the field of battle and in fact all had served with honor. In 1987 it was time for the youngest Crigger to follow in the family business and enlist, but there was a big difference between Private Crigger and his West Point father. Colonel Crigger had a PhD in Nuclear Physics and a very distinguished career in various Ranger and Infantry units. Private Crigger, on the other hand, was an idiot who only cared about imbibing on malted hops and cultivating a harem of nubile flesh. “It’s twelve weeks,” the bigger Crigger said when he dropped off the pimply Private at the Kansas City MEPS station. “Hell I can stand on my head knee-deep in pig shit for that long.”
Daddy Crigger had no idea the depths of stupid his son was capable of.
Let’s skip ahead.
Anyone who’s ever been to Fort Benning knows the depths of suck it can reach. Lucifer’s salty scrotum holds nigh a Christmas light to Fort Benning’s supernova of unpleasantness. On the first day of basic training, Crigger fell out of a cattle car, lost in a BDU-clad crowd of petrified teenagers past shrieking gorillas in Smoky the Bear hats and took up a position of rigid attention in front of a Silverback drill sergeant named Baldwin.
“What the fuck are you?” Baldwin screamed.
Crigger didn’t budge. Despite owning a GED in ADD, years of familial preparation had instilled in him a granite ability to stand tall and not sweat a high decibel assault. It was the Army’s tried and true ritual of shock treatment that all soldiers go through. It wasn’t a cordial round of handshakes and butt sniffing, but it was nothing unexpected and Crigger lauded himself quietly as others wept and urinated in their new fatigues. But no level of preparation can make up for a long and comfortable relationship with dumbassery.
“You’re the sorriest group of shitbags I’ve ever seen!” Baldwin bellowed. “Do you know where you are? You are on my playground and someone has stolen my lunch money! I will kill whoever stole my fucking lunch money when I find them!”
Intimidation finally had a spokesperson. Baldwin raced up and down the platoon of mammal droppings detailing in very creative ways how badly their state education systems had failed them, questioning their virility, and educating them on the only two things that come from Texas. The frothing drill sergeant made it perfectly clear that the socio-economic climate of trailer parks fostered an unacceptable climate of inbreeding and that homosexuality would not be a guarantee for promotion.
“I bet you queers don’t even have a fucking package! Everyone check your package!”
Package? Crigger thought as he stood perfectly still trying to interpret the pop culture slang that eluded him.
Package? the question again echoed in his head, this time with a greater sense of urgency. Although completely unsure of the appropriate action he should take, the man-child knew what he absolutely could not do-stand still.
I only brought one package, he thought bending down and picking up his duffel bag. And this is it.
It was an unfortunate choice of action. He stood there with his heavy canvas bag wrapped in his arms like a prom date, smug in the knowledge that he’d defeated the mental midgets who tried to stump him when the world around him convulsed.
“Hollleee Sheeet!” Baldwin exclaimed from a half mile away, his sincere surprise echoing across the concrete courtyard. “Are you fucking kidding me?!”
Someone’s in trouble, Crigger thought, wrapped in denial like a professional dumbass. Good thing I got my package secured.
Like a swarm of flies on a cow’s moist eye, the drill sergeants suddenly descended on him with exclamations that made even the harshest obscenities seem trivial. One got close enough that Crigger detected his pungent odor, a familiar aroma like the sweat and sawdust of a traveling circus.
“Were you aborted as a child?”
“You think IQ stands for I can’t know shit!”
“My hound dog fucks porcupines and he’s still smarter than you!”
The berating made the eighteen year-old wish he were back in a Kansas wheatfield doing kegstands with his high school buddies shouting “Woooo” like a male cheerleader. The employment opportunity he’d turned down to be a “fluffer” now seemed a desirable career path and although he’d never heard the term, Crigger felt an immediate need to find the phone number of the Michael Jackson-like character who offered it to him. His resolve drooped along with his arms as all of his earthly belongings sagged from their weight and his duffel bag slid closer to earth.
“This is the only package I brought Drill Sergeant,” he squealed in a panic. But the weak effort only strengthened his assaulter’s barrage. He stood there giving his pound of flesh for several minutes going through all the rational and irrational courses of action he could think of: run and hide, take it like a man, scream back, throw the duffel at Baldwin, run and hide, fake an injury, cry like a girl, drink Clorox, run and hide. Finally he devised a plan to stop the onslaught and though it was born from a dumbass under duress, it seemed the only option left.
“How did you make it through puberty if you don’t know what a package is?” A drill sergeant screamed from his left. Crigger suddenly broke ranks and responded directly to the question.
“Playboys, acne cream, and therapy drill sergeant?”
“Head and eyes straight ahead, dipshit!” Baldwin bellowed as the others renewed their profanity-laden obliteration of Crigger’s family tree. But the slight turn of his head was just enough to gather the information he needed to get out of the situation. In that nanosecond the youngster looked out of the corner of his eye and saw a platoon of teenagers with their hands protecting their crotch.
I am a complete tool, he thought as his duffel bag crashed onto his own feet and his arms felt awash with renewed blood coursing into them.
“Did you finally figure it out, fucko?” Baldwin asked.
“Yes, drill sergeant!” Crigger responded.
“Good. Then check your package.”
With both hands and a growl to make up for his misgivings, Crigger grabbed his crotch like the rest of his platoon and “checked his package.” The tingling in his fingers made his grab lame, but at least he was back in the ball game.
“There’s hope for you yet,” Baldwin said as the other drill sergeants went on to greener pastures of sadism. He moved in close until the brim of his hat touched Crigger’s nose. “But not today.”
Baldwin pivoted a perfect ninety degrees on his spit shined boots, looked over his shoulder, and gathered up his bullhorn of a voice. “Everyone in the front leaning rest,” he shouted to the platoon. Sixty privates suddenly dropped to the ground and assumed the push up position.
“Not you,” he said calmly to Crigger. “You stand there. Everyone else knock out twenty…courtesy of Private Package.”
With a collective grumble they all started pushing.
“Now do you know where you are? Baldwin asked.
“Knee deep in pig shit?”