If you haven't heard the story, "Genius" is the name I gave to a Taliban mortar leader I fought against ten years ago tomorrow. I call him that because his shooting was incredible. One crosswind in the other direction and one of those rounds would have landed on my crotch instead of blowing a tire on the Humvee. What I didn't know at the time was that he was also attacking another patrol south of me.
To put it in mundane terms, the guy and his team were doing two or three different trigonometric equations simultaneously, where a variable in each one changed every couple of seconds, and he was keeping up with the changes. Not an easy thing. Even before an overweight Shakespearean trained Marine starts filling your workspace with grenades the size of soda cans.
In a lot of ways, I was never a very stellar Marine. Constantly overweight and a lousy leader, to name two things off the top of my head.
And that doesn't include the culture clash. Not sure if it was a liberal arts degree, an odd religious base, or a philosophical reference, but I didn't see the need in hating anyone I had to shoot. Which put me occasion at odds with the "get pumped before a football game" types. I was more, "If getting the job done means paint the walls with entrails, roger that. No need to be rude about it."
Not exactly inspiring, I'll admit, but it worked for me. Didn't lose a wink of sleep over Genius, though I've had some disturbed nights wondering what other people think of me as a result. A part of me wonders if that's the reason I've never had PTSD.
(For a long time, I wondered if this made me one of Grossman's "functional sociopaths." But in the intervening years, I've concluded that Sheepdog theory is bullshit and told Grossman that in person, so I take anything else he's written with enough salt to grace a margarita.)
I'm talking about this now for a few reasons.
One, I no longer work in the theater, so I don't have to sweat over my income and career being affected by some pearl-clutching hoplophobe panicking about my supposed bloodthirst.
Two, this attitude affects a lot of my interactions, particularly online.
The increasing vitriol, especially since the 2016 election, equally disgusts and baffles me. Seeing dozens, hundreds of people with, from this end, some really screwed up danger detection senses. And some really screwed up attack responses.
"X, Y, and Z all want me dead!"
Me: "They don't know you're alive, cupcake. At best, they support something that'll make your life harder. As bloodlust goes, that's pretty lazy of them."
"Build a guillotine on main street!"
Me: "You needed my tools to build a desk from IKEA. Stop before you hurt yourself."
I just don't see the appeal of screaming into the void. Not without a heavy bag to hit while you're doing it, anyway.
Nor do I see the point of threats. Make a threat online, and you either mean it or you don't.
If you don't mean it, then you're a lying poser who would've done the world a favor by keeping your flapping yap shut.
And if you do mean it, you're fool enough to leave evidence of premeditation for the world to see, and may the devil take your lawyer.
I've become distinctly returned hobbit in my outlook. The sword's on the mantle. I prefer my books and armchair, wife and cats. Any attempts at scouring a shire won't go over well, but I'd much prefer to avoid such things in the first place.
I didn't take down Genius so I could die of someone else's stupid.
I hope I won't have to.