D-Day Puts The “D” In PTSD

Saving Private Ryan via Amazon.com
Saving Private Ryan via Amazon.com

Though I wasn’t present when the Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, I still suffer from the trauma of that experience.

The year was 1998, and a buddy and I had decided to smoke a blunt before going to see Saving Private Ryan. Walking to the theater felt like trying to find Luke Skywalker when he got lost on that snow planet. Ordering popcorn was a whole other bag of tricks. You know when you can’t stop puking? It was like that, but laughing. I was having involuntary dry-heaves of belly laughs, and making it to the counter seemed like the most impossibly hilarious task imaginable. When we finally got there, I couldn’t speak English. I tried a variety of birdcalls and eventually had to sort of point to the size of the bag I wanted while laughing so hard, tears skipped out of my eyes and landed on my cheeks. The guy even said, “Are you guys ‘stoned’?” and he put “stoned” in air quotes. Of course we’re stoned, asshole. What do you think—we just heard a really funny joke for the past 20 minutes? Why did he put “stoned” in air quotes, anyway? Is he sick of people calling it that? Nobody has a problem with the word “stoned.” What are you supposed to call it—“high on marijuana cigarettes”?

The questions surrounding the air quotes he surrounded “stoned” with quelled the laughter, and we were able to make it into the theater like a couple of human beings who were alive. The theater was packed and a lot of the people seemed to be military guys. They had that haircut and they were most definitely not “stoned” (now he’s got me doing it). We grabbed our seats, laughed at the previews for Armageddon and Godzilla, and without warning were thrust into one of the most catastrophic battles in all of WWII.

If I can impart one lesson to my children it will be: DO NOT WATCH SAVING PRIVATE RYAN STONED! Holy crapcakes, is that opening scene intense. They do this thing with the audio where you can hear the bullets zip past your head and it’s so loud and vivid, you have to duck. In the theater, the surround sound makes this even more realistic. I heard war vets had flashbacks and a resurgence of PTSD from watching the movie. They obviously went through a lot, but nobody talks about the stoned victims of a reenactment of that day. We suffered too, you know. The dudes we saw crawling on the beach with no legs were about thirty feet wide. Yes, there were almost 15,000 casualties that day and over 4,000 people died, but stoned people had to watch it, and it fucked us up. I sort of gave up smoking pot after that movie. Almost instantly, my giggles were replaced with hair-whitening terror. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The fact that it was nonfiction added another blanket of panic, and my heart started pounding so hard, I almost fainted. Even writing about it now is giving me PTSD.

Today is a day we should remember our soldiers and what they endured in the name of freedom, but in the 24 hours it takes to give thanks to our heroes, maybe save a couple of seconds to pour some of your beer out for those of us who watched a movie about it while stoned out of our minds. We went through maybe a trillionth of what they went through, but that’s still a number. Thanks in advance, by the way. I needed that. TC mark

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