How To Be a Soldier of Fortune 101


You don’t wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. ~from “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”

What we have is a failure to Shoemunicate

There’s a picture in our family’s photo album of me, about aged eight or nine, sitting on my dad’s recliner and pondering the latest issue of Soldier of Fortune magazine. I have no idea where I got it, or whether I understood the concepts at that age, but I sure was fixated. To a large extent, I still am. After all, aren’t maverick cops (John McClane, Harry Callahan, Riggs and Murtaugh) more exciting than bored suburbanites? What about half-crazed Vietnam veterans (H.M. Murdock, Russell Caise, Rambo) as opposed to lawyers and doctors?

I knew from a young age that I wanted adventure in my life. Still do. Because I’m getting closer to 40 than 20, and I’d be unlikely to be accepted by the police force or the armed services, maybe my options are limited. My take on “risky” occupations has always been that, if I got killed on the job, at least I’d be losing my life for the greater good. If I were stuck, say, selling insurance or decorating rich people’s sunrooms, not so much. Then, I’d be more likely to drop dead of boredom.

I’ve come to the conclusion that some of this strange desire of mine is upbringing: I come from a family heavy on police and law enforcement types, and was brought up to understand that the service of one’s country is a brave and honorable thing. But some of it has to be genetic too. Other girls my age wanted to play princesses and ballerinas. I was too busy Blowing Shit Up in my backyard and planning for that Red Dawn-style invasion that never happened. In short, I was just wired differently.

This is what a real SoF looks like

For the record, I’m not one of those weekend warriors who only wants to be a SoF for the “glamour” of it. There’s really nothing glamorous about the day-to-day life of a police officer or servicemember, but it’s necessary and important work. Those men and women are the real heroes in this country today. They willingly put their lives on the line so the rest of us civilians can sleep sound every night. And they don’t get paid nearly enough.

Honestly? I’d be willing to endure extremes of heat and cold, tasteless food out of a can, killer insects, and no running water if it meant doing a good service for my country. Most of our servicemembers in Afghanistan and other places do that every day. Since I know I’ll likely never be one of them, I may have to look to other outlets for service. It’s been something I’ve considered for years. The thing is, one just doesn’t apply to be a soldier of fortune (and, in fact, the term has been bastardized to mean anything from private, Blackwater-style mercenaries to guys doing shady missions in South America or Asia.) It’s nothing as neat and clean as one would expect from movies like Romancing the Stone or The Losers.

So why the hell would a nice, lower-middle class, thirtysomething like me want to do that with her life?

It’s certainly not about money. I’ve known a lot of wealthy people, and hardly any of them are what I’d call content. It’s not for the “fortune and glory” Indiana Jones spoke of, either. Nothing fortunate or glamourous about malaria or slogging through mud. Nor is it for the “sexiness” factor either. When I stand back and look at it, I think it has something to do with that intangible quality Hannibal Smith calls “the Jazz.” This is, as best I can describe it, the desire to be chased, shot at, possibly killed, all for the adrenaline rush and sense of duty it brings. “Anyone can play golf,” Hannibal explains to a questioning client, “but don’t you think this is more fun?”

The jazz is automatic weapons, danger, and fuzzy earmuffs

Who knows if I’ll ever get to find one of these elusive “jobs?” I’m continuing to take the steps I need to at least better myself in life (and, as anyone who knows about AS knows, self-advocacy is a challenge for Aspies.) For all I know, I could be the first female Aspie soldier of fortune. Stranger things have happened. In the meantime, I keep watching my favorite shows and movies and living vicariously through fictional heroes. If I can’t do it, someone has to.

If I ever get to be as gung-ho as Tackleberry (Police Academy), then I’ll know I’ve taken things too far. But until then, it doesn’t hurt to dream a little.

Ooh, this looks fun

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on May 16, 2011.

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