The Tale of Two R2s 

By Baron Hans vonBeavis
Man of a Thousand Stories

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Photo by Bay Area R2 Builders, makers of fine droids.

Going back to elementary school, I’ve known a few folks with the initials R.R. Since the election of the orange President Biff Tannen, I’ve had a falling out with two of them. Both were what I considered good friends; one of them was a best friend from high school.

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T x 2, not to be confused with “Terminator 2”; blotchy, orangy, bad-haired orangutans. Photo by CNN Politics

Mind you, there are more people in my life than just the R2 units.  I’ve lost other lifetime friendships with due to Biff. One of the non-R2s, a retired Air Force NCO in his mid-60s who guarded nukes his entire military career, suffered economically post-USAF, and moved in with his mom a couple of years ago, pretty much blamed President Barack Obama and all the rest of we “libtards” for his woes.

The same goes for family. My younger brother, Number Three (there were six of us and we all got the same first name—a story for another time—so we frequently refer to each other by the number of our birth order), is an ardent NRA supporter who never served in the military and once kicked me out of his house because I, a veteran, argued that images-1.jpegimages-2.jpeg

military weapons have no place in American society – sacrilege in his casa! And I cannot have a discussion with my wife’s uncle; the first time I met him, he assumed because I was a soldier that I agreed with that big, fat, lying liar Limbaugh. He moved from California to Arkansas, where his newest, bestest redneck buddies likely view him with a jaundiced eye because of his second wife, a lovely, gentle Taiwanese lady who has been an American since the early 1970s and still speaks English with a strong Chinese accent. He and I just can’t talk anymore, although he still forwards me rightwing internet memes that I delete without comment.  To quote a Chinese proverb (or fortune cookie): It is often better not to see an insult than to avenge one.

imagesBecause they continue to double-down on supporting the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue regardless of his antics, I can no longer pretend that BS about agreeing to disagree. I don’t argue for the sake of argument. I enjoy spirited debate, but when the best response I hear in return to a given point is the either the “Al Bundy Defense,” (simply denigrating one’s opponent, as in saying “Well, you’re a chicken!” or far worse) or the Fox News defense (“I know you are but what am I?”)

I must leave those friends and family behind like drowning victims who frantically and unintentionally try to drown their rescuers; I must remain calm and carry on. It is not what I wish, but if I cannot overcome willful ignorance, I must go forward like the soldier I once was … without them.

Since I can’t get any of them to acknowledge that Biff is an embarrassment for America across the globe and doesn’t have their best interests at heart, this column is dedicated to them. And since I didn’t want to be the jerk in the final conversations with the R2s, I’ll just write about them and how our communications ended.

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Ninja One’s bike and namesake.

The Tale of R2-1
R2-1 was one of my two best friends during high school (the other was T2 … a different T2, again not in the Schwartzenegger mold), later known as Ninja One for his choice of motorcycle). The three of us met in 10th grade taking German language and band classes together. I had many reasons to be a close friend to R2-1. He had a dry sense of humor, enjoyed going on adventures on Los Angeles freeways after we got our licenses, and didn’t have a mean bone in his body—then. He later beat me out for marching band drum major and did a great job.

R2-1 came to California from Canada in his youth. His father immigrated from a German-speaking part of the Ukraine, and since his dad, an elementary school principal, spoke fluent Hoch Deutsch, R2-1 did well in that class. He was also a better musician than I was;

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“Pollyanna” image courtesy of Disney

I struggled to read music before I got it down.  If I was a Boy Scout who never drank or swore until after I was in the Army a spell, he was a Pollyanna Goodytwoshoes. For example, when the movie “Carrie” came out, R2-1, Ninja One and I went to go see it until R2-1 saw that it was rated R. We were 17 and could see it, but his morality governor compelled him to sit in the car for two hours while Ninja One and I were in the theater.

His family was evangelical Republicans, but he never tried to foist his religion on me. His younger sister was slim and graceful with a beautiful thick mane of red hair … she was one of the many girls I fell in love with during high school. I shared a couple of holiday meals with them and felt close to the whole family.

UnknownPolitically, R2-1 tried to convince me of his conservative views to no avail. Like my wife’s uncle who loves him some Limbaugh, R2-1 gave me a copy of one of the fat ass’ books after I joined the Army. I tried to read it just to better understand my friend, but I don’t think I made it a quarter of the way through the double-spaced screed (and that reminds me of a joke I’ve told for years: What’s the difference between Rush Limbaugh and the Hindenburg? One is a flaming Nazi gasbag; the other is a dirigible.) I later countered by giving him a copy of Al Franken’s book about Limbaugh, “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.” R2-1 immediately gave it back to me without even cracking it. Like his religion, he couldn’t entertain a narrative that countered the one he wanted to believe. Never mind that Limbaugh is a douche.

We kept in touch and wrote a lot while I was stationed overseas. We put new stamps on the same envelope and reused it until the USPS refused to accept it any more—I still have that envelope. In the mid-1980s, I visited him while he was doing evangelical missionary stuff in Wakayama City, Japan.

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Wakayama, Japan

I brought him ingredients to make Mexican food and we feasted like happy gringos. Again, he imposed no religious views upon me and didn’t browbeat me when I came back from Kyoto after getting drunk at a sushi bar with a senior Japanese policeman whose only English was “John F. Kennedy, number one!” I still have photos from that happy trip.

R2-1 got his pilot’s license and eventually became a copilot for the late Continental Airlines (he now flies for United). He taught me how to fly and we once flew from Burbank in the San Fernando Valley to Palo Alto in the San Francisco Bay area, my longest flight in a Cessna. He married and had two kids.

As the years went by, we were less in touch except for the occasional birthday or Xmas card. We sent each other interesting postcards; he sent cutout photos of the heads of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. I think I sent him a Bill Clinton head postcard. Eventually the creek dried up and we moved our separate ways in life.

I don’t engage in Facebook except for work, where I’m obliged to use social media. In 2016, I found him there and sent him an out-of-the-blue howdy. What I didn’t know was that his wife shares his Facebook page and was responding. Eventually he replied himself and gave me his address in Atlanta, hub city to his airline. I sent him postcards from my travels and our friendship seemed to rekindle … until the orange sphincter

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Cheeto Mussolini and his forefather.

came into power, thanks to Facebook, a few million ignorant voters and Russian interference. I was pretty tame in my inquiries; he became more and more agitated that I’d point out the problematic administration, often sending him links to what Cheeto Mussolini calls fake news.

He didn’t answer when I questioned how evangelicals remained in lockstep with that schmuck. After the incident with the Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, I again asked how he could put his faith in “both sides” bozo. He replied with a rant about how the antifa were far worse. I’d said nothing about them and my last words written to him were: “R2-1, I don’t know what to say.” He responded that he sometimes rants like an old man, but again went to defending Annoying Orange by attacking the counter protesters.

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The great Dr. Zaius, missed from the internets.

To date, I haven’t responded. I am sadden by the loss of a good friend. I cannot reconcile R2-1’s support for such an obviously bad orangutan (with apologies to Dr. Zaius).

The Tale of R2-2
I was working in Germany in 2007 when I met R2-2. Like my wife’s uncle, he was on his second spouse, a wonderful Korean lady who is like a beloved princess. Although born a Californian, his family moved to the Midwest when he was a kid. Somewhere during his upbringing in a red state he adopted the rightwing philosophical viewpoint. He, too, became and evangelical.

Some of the grace I give R2-2 is based on his Army service. He retired as a Military Police NCO after courting his second wife while serving in the ROK. R2-2 works for the government as an antiterrorism officer. We enjoyed chugging a few liters of good Bavarian beer together. Like R2-1, R2-2 doesn’t proselytize but turns from sunny to stormy when he talks politics. He once baited me just before a staff meeting, singing the praises of truly crooked Gov. Rick Scott of Florida. Scott had recently been elected, and I’d read up on his antics destroying the healthcare of Middle America. As R2-2 blathered on, it got heated and I referred to Scott by a colorful metaphor involving a sexual act on a part of the male anatomy.

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We let that pass and we continued to work and drink together. I’d join him for perimeter sweeps of the garrison compound, picking up trash and noting deficiencies in the fence line. It wasn’t my job, but it got me out of the office on nice days. When we both PCSed in different directions, we stayed in contact.

And then Twitler happened. The sensitivity of Comrade Stupid (h/t to Tengrain) as topic put a chill on our friendship. Politics was off the table for discussion. Then he emailed me regarding a recent story in Stars and Stripes about how federal employees will now be taxed for the cost of their PCS relocation costs. Both of us are working in different countries in Europe. He said he’d written his congressman, and I wrote back “You know who is responsible for that, right?” He didn’t and asked who was.

“The tax cut for rich people was pushed through Congress by Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R), House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), and signed by the POTUS.”

That was the last I heard from him. Maybe he’ll change his view based on how his wallet is affected, and pigs might fly, but I doubt it.

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The politics of vonBeavis
Democrats care about people. Republicans care about people with money. The current occupant of the White House will sign most anything the GOP puts in front of him, and those bills are to benefit of the one percent.

When a Democrat does wrong, he gets canned, pronto. When a Republican does wrong, he gets a show on Fox News or becomes the new head of the NRA.

 

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Don’t tread on me … except on designated paths

    

Arising from the molten rock, Goddess Pele assumes humanoid form to confront her human tespassers

Arising from the molten rock, Goddess Pele assumes humanoid form to confront her human trespassers. Do they look like vulcanologists to you? (Google Images)

Story transcribed by Benjamin Grimm
from an exclusive talk-story with Madame Pele

Grimm

Grimm

               Mortals from around the world come to admire my beauty, and that’s okay … until they cross the line and get burnt.

                Every year, visitors to the island of Hawaii are injured when they break rules created to keep them safe. Every so often, some humans take the last outrigger from the realm of the living to my realm of immortals long before their time. Between 1992 and 2002, 40 souls took that outrigger, and 45 more suffered serious injury.

                They go off of designated roads and trails of my home, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, to suffer cuts, bruises, burns and broken bones when they tread on a thin bubble of sharp aa or smooth pahoehoe lava beds. Hey, just because I’m cool doesn’t mean you can walk all over me.

                Some bypass barricades put in place to keep them safe from steam vents; others, who don’t find my waters sufficiently warm enough, take to the boiling sea to witness the awesome fury of molten rock billowing under the surface. My reaction to that usually leaves them steamed or hard boiled.

It is prudent counsel to heed a goddess when she tells you to stop.

It is prudent counsel to heed a goddess when she tells you to stop. (Google Images)

                If that doesn’t foment respect, remember I produce what islanders call vog, the toxic fumes that can cause illness. The trade winds usually cause vog to drift away from Hawaii, but it can be lethal when concentrated.

                Park rangers and cultural guides will warn you not to do that, just as they’ll give you fair warning not take what is mine, even a pebble, or face my wrath. Those who do eventually repent and return that which they took, and I grant them grace … but those who trespass across my fields or into my caldera are asking for a Darwin Award. I’ve been in constant eruption since January 1983.

One of the homes destroyed in Kappapana Village. (Google Images)

One of the homes destroyed in Kappapana Village. (Google Images)

In 1992, I burned Kapapana Village completely off the map and eight residences in nearby Kapa’ahu, both built in the red zone (lava flow danger zone.)

                If I have the power to create acres of new land and devour buildings, what makes you think I won’t take action when you ignore the polyglot of warning signs and dare intrude into my fields?

Worshipped by native Hawaiians, Pele Lani is depicted as beautiful yet deadly ... don't cross her!

Worshipped by native Hawaiians, Pele Lani is depicted as beautiful yet deadly … don’t cross her! (Google Images)

                I’m not saying you have to worship me. The Hawaiian people consider my realm, which includes the largest active volcano on Earth, sacred. Their worship for me, who created their islands, is enough. And I’m a powerful goddess who respects warriors so long as they respect me. In fact, military and DOD civilians are welcome to see my majesty from the safety and comfort of Kilauea Military Camp, one of a only a few lodgings actually within the 330,000 acre national park.

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KMC has been around for decades and it is yours to visit. You can safely hike miles of designated trails or hike my 14,000 tall peak. You can tour lava tubes and see flora and fauna unique to my park.

                I cannot say the same for those who get too close without an invitation. If you respect my privacy and follow the national park safety rules, you’ll say “Aloha” with a smile and warm memories.

                However, if you dare go hiking or swimming where rangers and common sense say you shouldn’t, don’t be surprised if things get warmer than you expected.

Mahalo,

Pele Lani

(Editor’s note: The author intends no disrespect to those Kamaʻāina who pay homage to the ancient Hawaiian gods, and channeled Madame Pele for the sole purpose of promoting safety on her lands for military personnel stationed in the 50th state. Also, the author’s pen name was chosen due to his volcanic-looking face and physique, and doesn’t actually say things like “It’s clobberin’ time!”)