June 5, 2016 | 7:30 PM EDT
By John Burk
“Hey Sergeant, how do you get three dead babies out of the bottom of a trash can?”
The squad leader looks up from checking his radio channel with a smirk and nods upwards at the private. “How?”
The private does his best not to laugh as he delivers the twisted punch line that he knows will be met with the same twisted humor that he has. “A pitch fork.”
The sergeant rolls his eyes and gives a slight chuckle. “You’re fucked up, private, now get on the gun and pull security.”
It’s funny to some, but not to most. Why? Why would this type of a twisted joke be met with any sort of laughter, or even the crack of a smile? Surely the sight of three dead babies being pitchforked from the bottom of a trash can would send anyone’s stomach reeling from the grotesque and disgusting mental image. Of course it would, to any NORMAL person.
Moments before the joke was told, the two veterans were involved in a thirty minute long fire fight that resulted in one of their brothers having to be loaded up on a black hawk and flown out due to him being shot through the neck, which spun him around and was followed by another round blowing out his hip from the rear. He fell to the ground unable to scream, bleeding a deep dark almost bluish blood with his eyes full of shock mixed with fear, but not just any fear. Not the same kind of fear one may experience when watching a horror movie, but a pure raw fear of “I’m dying, and I’m not ready.”
The sergeant and private get a radio message from base that their brother was pronounced DOA. The men are left reeling from not only the firefight, but also the sudden realization that their brother is gone, but it goes even deeper than that.
We would normally think that the loss of a comrade would be hard, well of course it is, but now take the visions left behind of that brother bleeding out in front of you, and put yourself in that position. It’s terrifying to think about. The shock, fear, and not to mention pain he must have been going through must have been the scariest feeling in the world, but now the reality of your situation begins to become even more real to you because if HE can get killed, and he seemed like a fearless bad ass that was untouchable, then YOU can get killed.
The 3D realization that occurs from having witnessed someone dying right before you can either shut you down, or wake you up, and for some, it does neither because they’re emotionally disconnected from it all. They have to be in order to still function normally in an environment where every day death is a large factor.
How do we adjust? We laugh. We have to laugh or we will go crazy, but what makes us laugh? The dirtiest most disgusting jokes you can imagine. Why? Because it’s a defense mechanism, so we grow so emotionally calloused that at times, it becomes difficult to experience every day normal emotions. We have to relate to something just as hideous and attempt to see the comedy in it. It’s the same way we deal with the hell we go through. If you don’t learn to laugh, you’ll go crazy. The dirtier and more disgusting the joke, the more likely we are to still feel some form of humor stir within our minds. If we didn’t laugh, we would feel nothing.
Holidays become normal days. Birthdays don’t mean as much; instead, the dates of certain firefights, or the deaths of brothers and sisters take their place with much more deeper meaning. We don’t laugh at the small jokes with no true meaning. We don’t smile too often at the little things in life being that once you’ve seen the realities of what war and life are all about; it leaves you with the realization of just how disgusting and barbaric human beings can be.
Why do we laugh? Why is our humor so off color and misunderstood by civilians, because if we didn’t laugh, we’d be crying in fits of rage.
We laugh to adapt. Our humor is dark and almost always misunderstood. We don’t inwardly mean it, but sometimes it’s the only way we can feel anything.
Soldier of Steel