What a Zany Day
Note and Disclaimer: M*A*S*H is never mine or yours. Don't we all wish it was?
Ever since being fooled, Margaret and I had been ever-so careful to guard our time, belongings and reports. We found that we could ill-afford to lose anything and each other. No matter which way we turned, though, someone desecrated everything we planned. It was worse when the pranks got out of hand or any diplomacies we had went up in smoke.
Letters came back from I-Corp, demanding postage to be paid, even though we shouldn't have to. Every typewriter was missing parts or was broken altogether and replacements were tough to come by. Margaret's tent had been tampered with so many times that she has to have Colonel Blake inspect it nightly. My mother's picture was even engraved on, stating that my Dad isn't my Dad!
It was a horrible time for us both and we had no culprit to point a finger at. But at least I had something to look forward to: my National Geographic. Colonel Blake ordered it for me and always told me personally when it came in. He even allowed me to pull apart the plastic when the new edition comes in, disallowing anyone else touching it. It had been my latrine treat since arriving here.
One day, when the mail came, the good news arrived with it. National Geographic was in and Colonel Blake personally put it by my seat in the latrine. He told me so! I was in my tent, preparing another loving letter to my wife when Colonel Blake relayed this.
Then, those miscreants took over Colonel Blake's attention, possibly conning him into something for the wounded. I didn't care. I was so excited about my new magazine (and the articles I adored) that I almost willed myself to use the latrine. I mean, I could have just gone in there, but it wouldn't be right. It was still daytime and we had visitors all over the camp.
I waited. It did not take long. An hour later, I was running to the latrine…and found out that it was blocked and locked! That little shrimp, Corporal O'Reilly, was putting the sign up. It said that this latrine was locked until further notice. It said something about a time for reopening, but I could not read it.
"What's going on here?" I demanded. I was dancing. "I need to use the latrine."
"Colonel Blake's orders, Sir," Corporal O'Reilly replied. He handed me some papers from his back pocket. "He said the latrines have to be closed. They're up for redecorating."
I read the orders incredulously. "Well, what am I supposed to do? Find a tree in the minefield?"
"No, Sir. We have a small tent you can use."
"A small tent?"
"Yes, Sir. Right this way."
The pipsqueak led me to a tiny teepee in the middle of the compound and handed me a bucket. Disappointed, I did my business and returned to my tent. I heard nothing more about the redecorating, not even from McIntyre and Pierce. I thought I'd be invited to the reopening, but I wasn't. It was just another party without me. It was pretty zany.
A few hours later, after our visitors left, I heard a rumor that we were celebrating Pierce's graduation from medical school. I was confused. When you finish medical school, it was in the summer, not the autumn. No matter, though. People made up things so that they could drink and Pierce always loved to be adored by his cheering crowds. It was all for attention.
Margaret decided to take me along. She came into my tent, pretending to be innocent and being a friend. "Oh, Frank, there's a party in the Mess Tent. Let's go. Please, oh, please! We can go as friends."
"Oh, I don't know." I picked up one of my boots and began cleaning it. "It's not like the latrine is being redecorated. That's important and nobody told me about it."
"I wasn't told about that either," Margaret said mysteriously. She drew closer and was right next to my ear. "You know, we can take a chance after the party. The delousing station is empty."
I could not miss this opportunity. Of course, I accepted Margaret's offer to go to the Mess Tent and then to our meeting. By the time evening rolled in and the skies turned dark, everyone was practically drunk, Margaret included. I was not pleased with her being so intoxicated. We argued about it and I left in a huff. I was so upset that I planned to spend it with my National Geographic, no matter who needed the latrine. The renovations had to be done by now, surely, even if I didn't get to be there for the grand reopening.
Before I reached the latrines, though, Klinger stopped me. Now, I was always disgusted with him in dresses. I could not never tell if I wanted him out because he was a disgrace or if I wanted him in because he was bucking for a Section Eight. Either way, he was a gross creature.
He too blocked my way to the latrines. "Sir, you have a note."
"Get out of my way!" I ordered. "You cannot stop an officer from relieving himself."
"No, Sir, I cannot, but I can give you this note from Major Houlihan," Klinger said. He held up a folded piece of paper.
I took it from the degenerate and opened it. I read it suspiciously. Yes, it was Margaret's handwriting, all right. She was sobering up and asked me to meet her behind the showers. She had a surprise for me.
I shoved the note in my pocket. "You keep this quiet," I told Klinger.
"Of course, Sir." Klinger saluted me, beads jingling from his arms.
I left him and was able to find my darling behind the showers. Margaret and I reunited perfectly. It was wonderful and we enjoyed the tryst. But the way we supposedly communicated was off. She told me that I sent her a note first and sweetened the pot with flowers. I don't recall doing that for her, but she was happy. I cannot help but smile at my angel for being so elated. It was the perfect end to a crazy day.
The next day was no better and seemed zanier than the previous one. I drew no closer to my National Geographic. First, I was told that it was a cow's birthday. Then, McIntyre wanted to celebrate some saint's day. Colonel Blake had a film from home he wanted to show everyone (something about his kids in the backyard). Father Mulcahy also held a service of thanksgiving for everyone, although he gave no specific reason why.
I soon found out the theme to all of this madness: I was away from the latrine. While the redecorating had been completed and without much ceremony the day before, it was utterly insane to keep me away from my magazine. By the time night fell, I was in Colonel Blake's office, complaining about my rights to the latrine and not some little hole in the compound. Of course, I was in the right and he did not argue. He ordered the latrines to be unlocked and he dismissed me. He made a promise about the National Geographic and he intended to keep it, of course!
Now, I was elated. I was going to rip open the plastic on the new edition! I did not care if I had to use the latrine or not. It was exciting to know that it waited for me.
Quietly, I snuck into the newly adorned structure and closed the door behind me. I sat down in my usual seat and moved my hand to find my National Geographic. But I could not find it. All I felt was paper next to me. Rapidly, I went through the piles of magazines and letters and found it.
It was devastating. I didn't get to touch the slippery plastic wrap, like I wanted to. Instead, I felt the bent and ripped pages of my magazine.
Somebody got to it first!
I stood up, outraged. I was had been fooled into staying away from the latrine because a miscreant read it before I did and destroyed it. This was not a zany day. This was a joke at my expense.
Those fools. They were going to pay!