At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Shocking, to realize, I know. But I am NOT the wise tribal elder. My vast realm of life-experience, if shared, will not tell the young persons of the collective how to live. Heck, if they follow my example they may be crazy by the time they're thirty. Or dead, or in jail.

I'm just not an exemplary human being.

Okay, I am fifty four years old, still alive, and I've never been convicted.
This may look good on a resume, but really it isn't that unusual.

Many people have never been caught or convicted.

The achievement is minor.

I sometimes regret not having flown drug planes for the CIA in Indo China, or smuggling guns to the rebels in whichever Latin country we were trying to destabilize in the past. It isn't that such rugged adventurism would make a man out of me -- that's what the Marines are for, if you are the type that has doubts over your own staggering machismo, sexual orientation, and parental approval -- but it would make for interesting stories.

"It was a warm sunny day when we took off from Hinboun en-route to Tan Son Nhut. We had two tonnes of number 3 on board, plus Colonel Vang's favourite water buffalo. Which was registered as a human passenger.
There are NO veterinary surgeons in Khamouane, you see.
And old Vang was most particular about Daisy.

You, listening to this tale, do not yet know where the story is going, but the references to time, place, and the sheer gut-busting insanity inherent in the surreal other world of myth, have roped you in.
You cannot help yourself, you are rapt.

I take another sip of my Bourbon, and continue.

"Dark storm clouds were rolling in off the gulf as we crossed the border at Mu Gia, and I could see that all the way to the south, rain and wind were buffeting the landscape. Still, we'd be home before night fell, and I was already thinking of grilled duck at the place run by Dingo in TaiNgon...."

Anyhow, the yarn then goes off into an impossible series of escapades involving a drug-addled and progressively more intoxicated Vietnamese airforce officer driving a jeep, who, having seen the travel papers of the water buffalo ("Daisy Vang"), becomes convinced that if he marries the beast whom he drunkenly presumes to be a girl in disguise -- "Who ever heard of a water bufallo with a passport? It's just not done!" -- he will be Colonel Vang's son-in-law, and rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

As the Typhoon batters Cholon, the jeep with the crazed Viet captain, the American fly boy (me), and Daisy the water buffalo, who is contentedly chewing a bale of beo tay that is in the front seat next to the driver, roars down the road in the downpour, veering wildly from side to side. The driver takes another swig from his bottle, and the jeep smashes through the flimsy walls of a building. Captain Nguyen, now drunk out of his mind and quite insane, bleeding profusely from a gash above his left eye, gets out, goes down on one knee, and starts singing "Un dì, felice, eterea; mi balenaste innante; e da quel dì tremante, vissi d'ignoto amor...".

You, listening to this tale, realize that Uncle Atboth the blogger is utterly unsuitable as an influence on your children, who are attentively gape-jawed while I recount the tender love between a man and a beast, and you wonder what inconvenient questions you will have to answer when I finally leave.
Your wife looks at you speculatively; what you do not know is that at that very moment she is thinking "dang my life is boring, what possessed me to marry this drip?" She resolves right then and there to run away with the first pilot she meets, leaving you to raise the kids on your own.

You sense this. You do not know what it is, you think it's just a draft. You feel cold.
"Daisy," you say, "could you hand me the rug that's on the back of the couch?"
She turns her face towards you and utters a single syllable: "moo".

All this is in the realm of 'might-have-been'.
I never did become a Bourbon drinker.
Instead, I am an upstanding man.

Now, at fifty four, I sincerely regret not having facilitated a union between a Vietnamese military chap and a water buffalo. They would have made a lovely couple, if only I had been more adventurous.
It was probably an ideal match.

Sometimes I'm a little bored.

I should've flown a Fairchild C-119 Boxcar.

Your wife and kids would be just thrilled to meet me.

Today I'll look for grilled duck.
Haven't had duck in a while.
I really want some duck.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



  • At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Uncle ATBOTH, it would be interesting to confab with you over pints of Schlenkerla and pipes full of Sunday Picnic.

  • At 5:32 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Until mere moments ago, I had never even heard of rauchbier.

    Where is it served in SF?

  • At 9:10 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    How about instead of Sunday Picnic, a nice bulgy aged tin of Interlude, Manhattan Afternoon, or Red Carpet?

    They're six years old.

  • At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would have to suggest the Red Carpet. I am quite fond of the Izmir. However, where to find Rauchbier in SF? I cannot help you. I've only been there vicariously. But the Marzen is worth seeking.


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