Thursday, February 12, 2009

Guard Duty

This is what you get when your son asks you innocently if he can drill a few holes into one of his action figures; he borrows some Styrofoam from the trash; and he finds the craft paints.

A teachable moment, as the insufferable say?

Indeed. What do we know about guards? First, nobody really respects them. We mock private security guards. Other than our military volunteers, most Americans do not interact with Privates holding sentry. Hollywood has spared no celluloid in filling our minds with decades of lowly anonymous schmoes, some good, some bad, pulling guard duty. From the cookie cutter German guards in the Dirty Dozen movies to the strangely, identically dressed henchmen in the employ of SPECTRE in the Bond classics to man-of-the-future "red shirt" guys of Star Trek to the shlubs guarding the Nakatomi Plaza before Hans Gruber's similarly expendable employees tap them out with silenced rounds to the legions of black ops turncoats buckling at the hands of Jack Bauer on 24, they all have the following in common: cold, swift termination and barely a mention in the closing credits. Sometimes, they have to pay hard and will have their throats cut, kidneys punctured, or guts disemboweled, or all three as appears to be the case in the picture above.

One of the most important things that Sydney Brillo Duodenum can impart on Sydney Brillo Duodenum Junior is the understanding that he too will pull guard duty for some part of his life or for all of his life, and in either case he must avoid ending up like the guard in his diorama. Junior imagines he's the stealthy, albeit flashily dressed, Ninja, mercilessly dispatching the guard standing between him and the entrance to the secret government experimental nuclear Styrofoam laboratory. Few of us get to be Ninjas.

We all pull guard duty. Day after day, night after night, we watch over our jobs, our homes, our children, our little bank accounts and nest eggs, and our lawns. Guard duty is often tedious, unsung work; it can be soul crushing, but it's the mainstay of our society. We protect the entrances to the facilities that keep our society functioning. On any given night or day, that Ninja bastard may appear and simply take us out in a brief moment of befuddlement and stifled exhalation. All we can do is walk our lines, keep our eyes open, our safeties off, and constantly brush up on our grappling skills. Sometimes a guard is just too badass, like the ones guarding Area 51.

These days, too many of us have become distracted from our guard duties. We're wandering and complacent. The doors to the things we care most about are wide open because we decided to drop a deuce in the bushes at the wrong time. And, these days, the Ninjas are out in force.