We are zooming across the state again and Dave has an appointment with a psychiatrist in a town ninety miles from here. He was diagnosed with PTSD a few years back due to Uncle Sam's insistence that he join the other kids at the party in Vietnam. They said he was eligible for monthly benefit payments, sort of a governmental apology for all the crap that's still in his brain from hugging the jungle floor while bullets flew past his ears.
But this former grunt had a review session a few months ago and the notification came back: you are cured, you don't get any more money, don't take it personally.
And Dave panicked. He lives in fear that we will not have enough money for our retirement years, and we will as long as we do not buy the larger yacht. Actually, our lives are uncomplicated and we take pleasures in simple things, walks by the river, a thriving garden and the occasional chili dog. But with this latest cessation of anticipated income Dave saw us collecting pop cans in the highway ditch.
He has appealed and will require another psych evaluation. He comes down the steps wearing burgundy shorts, a lavender t-shirt that says, I Love California Woodies, black socks, white tennies. "I am not walking into a restaurant with you dressed as you are," I inform him, "oh wait," I backtrack, "you're doing the weird veteran thing."
Local vets counselors have coached Dave to dress like a worthless bum and if they ask him, "have you ever thought about killing someone?" say, "well, not right now but I have in the past." My feelings are mixed about this advice as I was raised to answer all inquiries honestly and wear clothing that accurately represents my frame of mind.
Dave can still work and stay married so perhaps the money should be used elsewhere - on the 107,000 homeless veterans and all those kids coming back from the Mid Eastern deserts. They will put their combat boots in the back of the closet and then the demons they thought were left behind will come screaming into their sleep and hang on their backs during daylight hours.
I give him a peck on the cheek, and say, "go tell them you want to kill someone and try not to look too good." I wait in a family restaurant across the street nursing a beer. Across from me is a sign, President George W. Bush sat here on March 30, 2005. What did he order, I asked the waitress. She didn't know, you would think she would know that. The manager says he didn't order anything. It was just where he sat for the radio spot. Figures.