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Lance Johnson - U.S. Army

In high school, I dated the class secretary, a pretty girl with red hair and an outgoing personality.  Cindy could have been class president except she wore glasses, an outward symbol of genetic imperfection in the days before contact lenses.  Worse, hers had red plastic frames that curled up and came to points at the top.  In those days, that little accoutrement automatically placed her in the category of smart, and smart girls only got elected to positions nobody else wanted.  Cindy was among the most popular in school, but poor eyesight dictated the duties she was deemed suited for.

I don’t know what Cindy saw in a tall, skinny introvert, but somehow, out of the white noise that was her social life, she decided I was all right and picked me out of the heard.  Cindy ran with the class elite, people who’d never dream of throwing a snowball or tipping over an outhouse.  When I hung with that crowd, I stayed pretty much in the background.  I didn’t really have much to say to the school swells, and they were not at all interested in me.  They considered Cindy’s fondness for me just another hiccup in her genetic assembly.  Once, at a school dance, the class president noticed me leaning against the wall while Cindy flitted around the room.  He walked over, looked me up and down, and then asked me how things were in the chemistry club.  I knew the guy was being an asshole, but all I did was stammer something stupid and walk away.  Later, I heard him repeat that story to a crowd of his smirking buddies.  Whatever the reasons, like most other high school infatuations, Cindy’s interest in me eventually waned, we drifted apart, and I never saw her again.

On my own, I was more comfortable with the crowd that hung out in the school parking lot, smoked cigarettes and talked cars.  In time, my adolescent social life became like a carnival house of mirrors.  Each way I turned, I was somebody different, and I developed methods for moving unnoticed between the groups.  I never knew whether I was truly accepted by any of those disparate people, nor did I care. 

  • The skill of managing interpersonal relations served Lance well in his role as an army officer but eventually symbolized a terrible deceit in which he played the lead actor and which haunted him for the rest of his life.


1. Ordinary
2. Dating the class secretary
3. Artillery training
4. Special Forces Camp
5. Firing at anything that moved
6. You're not going ot believe this
7. Asked to accomplish the impossible
8. Welcomed by war protesters
9. Anger
10. Like a trapped schoolboy
11. Dissociative flashback
12. Still in love