A long time ago when I was working my way through college, I lived in an apartment near a man that I used to call One-Minute-Wookie. I called him that because most people couldn’t stand him for more than a minute, and once he got angry, he’d roar. He was also very hairy, sporting a full beard and a long shaggy mane usually bound in a pony-tail.
One-Minute was old when I knew him. I doubt he’s still alive. He was a rude-crude-socially obnoxious individual of the type you’d expect to find in a dirty bar somewhere. A series of scars ran around his face bordering his hairline, the result of a drunken motorcycle accident that ended in an impact with a stop sign that ripped off his scalp (or so he said). They found it on the side of the road and sewed it back on. I never questioned this story – it’s possible that it actually happened, and it certainly looked like it had happened. He had all sorts of interesting stories, like how he lost his lung, and how was one of the few survivors of a unit that got nearly wiped out in the Korean War. He was happy about the US invasion of Iraq, and pissed off when Bush didn’t take over the whole country. He stated that we should have liberated Iraq and then charged the new government for the entire operation. Furthermore, he advocated doing the same to other countries, Iran and North Korea in particular. Bombs were useless if you didn’t use them, he would quip. Besides, he’d add, building them was good for the economy.
I was used to hearing stories from One-Minute. He was a war-monger. I have a feeling he would have happily turned the US military into a pay-for-hire mercenary outfit available to the rest of the world. He wore a John Deere cap and kept an American flag tacked up on the wall of his garage, right over his Harley Davidson, as if the whole thing were a display. (He even had a spotlight focused on the bike). You couldn’t talk logically with One-Minute-Wookie. If you argued with him about anything, he’d call you a fucking moron and tell you to get the Hell out of his garage. On the other hand, if you just shut up and listened, he’ll happily share his beer. It wasn’t very good beer, Keystone if I remember, but if you were completely out, it was better than nothing. And if you really get him going on a long story, he might even offer you a shot of whiskey. The entire garage, including One-Minute-Wookie, reeked of motor oil, gasoline, sweat, and cigarette smoke.
One of the things I always thought was odd about One-Minute was his lack of partisanship. Despite being a war-monger, he didn’t identify as a Republican or a Liberal. Nor did he subscribe to any particular religion (if you ask him he’ll tell you he used to be a Lutheran although he no longer went to church). One-Minute had an interesting library. Most of the material involved the construction of buildings, how to put down concrete, how to purify water, field medical techniques, weapons design, radio operation. Just about everything you’d need to restore the country after a nuclear war (which I think was largely the idea). Having lost one of his lungs, you’d think he would have stopped smoking, but he always puffed away on his Marlborough’s. When cigarettes were cheap, he used to give them away for free, but when the price went up he started demanding a quarter for each one. Not that I cared. I didn’t smoke.
One-Minute-Wookie wasn’t a racist, although he’d sometimes use racist terminology. I only know he wasn’t a racist because he felt very strongly about racial equality. “Brothers in arms,” he’d say. “It don’t matter what color yew are if yur fightin next to me.” If he were white, it probably would have appeared more racist, but One-Minute-Wookie was Native American, (or so he claimed), and he had very red skin despite being very hairy. Maybe one of his parents was a Sasquatch. I think he felt this gave him some leeway when it came to using slang racial terms, and he didn’t use racial slurs in an insulting manner. It’s almost as if he’d been exposed to them so much that they came naturally into his lexicon, a byproduct of his surroundings.
Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to that crotchety old bastard. Did the cancer get him, or did he run his Harley headlong into a wall? Regardless, he was an interesting character, a bit of the older Americana you don’t see much of anymore. Well… probably not at all anymore, unless you live out in the middle of Montana on a survivalist refuge near a Hudderite colony. But I could be wrong! Maybe there are people like this all over the place somewhere. Little pockets of independent-minded gun-toting cowboys ready to rise up as soon as the big one hits – whatever that “big one” happens to be.
Maybe this is where the Tea-Party comes from?
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