At the time, nearly 500 American GIs were dying in Viet Nam, and yet to get out of Fort Polk in Leesville Louisiana, I applied for transfer to the Republic of Vietnam. It was not that I wanted to be a hero. As a matter of fact, because of my MOS (that is, the job that I did in the army) it was quite unlikely Id ever see combat.
I had a girlfriend who was a delicious black. We had dated and screwed when I lived and worked in New York. She was the first black woman into whose body I had entered, but not the first I had ever kissed. I thrilled at the contrast of our skin and was intrigued by the differences (and similarities) of our backgrounds. When I met PG she was married, but was separated and approaching divorce. She was a teller at the bank where I cashed my paycheck from Vera Maxwell's every week. She was friendly, we talked, I asked her out to see Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. She accepted and so began our relationship.
I remember holding hands on the subway and the delightful difference between our skin colors. PG said I was the first white guy she had ever dated; that she had told her girlfriends that the next guy she would go out with would be a white guy and that that was me: and that she was not disappointed. (After more experience with white guys, she later told me that white guys are different - that they treat their girlfriends differently. Perhaps.)
Anyway we grew apart. I ended up in the army and was stationed in Fort Polk - not the nicest place for a city boy to end up living. Life Shock.
After being there for a few months, PG contacted me. I was without female companionship and very much wanted to be in a relationship, so when PG suggested that we set up household in Louisiana, I was ready for it - but Louisiana wasn't quite ready for it in 1970, although it would very likely have been worse in other parts of the south.
We moved in together in town. Although not legally segregated, Leesville was in fact segregated, where, quite literally, people of color lived on the other side of the tracks. The only white folks that I was aware of owned a grocery store just over the tracks.
Perhaps oddly, I had no problems living there, but I did on base, while PG had problems in the neighborhood, but no problems on base.
I don't remember much of our relationship. What I do remember can be counted on one hand:
a. She would only orgasm, if while fucking her, I rhythmically squeezed her breasts.
b. I admitted then denied I was an alcoholic.
c. She treated me like shit (but I don't remember in what way - I only remember, afterward, that when recalling her to others, that she taught me how to be a bastard because she was such a bitch.
d. I told her I wanted to marry her and when I told my mother my mother said, "no you don't and no you won't."
e. I really, really liked the darkness and smoothness of her skin - very erotic. I wish I had known her when I was older and sober.
When I was living in LA, I ran into a man who had worked with PG at the bank and despite the fact that she had moved to Louisiana to be with me, after I had left, she eventually made it back to New York. He said that she had a child and showed me a photo. Both she and the child looked well. He had told her that he had seen me, and she in turn told him that she would like me to get in contact with her (or at least that is what he said) and had sent the photo. I never tried to contact her. I let it go. I was living quite insanely and didn't need reality.
So what does any of this have to do with me volunteering for Viet Nam?
I had a sergeant who didn't like me, and PG's coming to live with me was the last straw. I could do nothing right. He made my life hell, and coupled with the disquieting relationship with PG, I decided to leave. However, in the Army, one doesn't (usually) just get up and leave. One has to be transferred, and they weren't granting transfers to anywhere but Viet Nam. And so I requested transfer to Viet Nam ... and the Army, most blessedly, sent me to the Republic of ... Korea.