The Ballad of Bones or Chicken Dinner: A Love Story
Back in 1994, I was a young serviceman stationed in snowy northern Japan. Beautiful country, great people and no real drinking age that I could discern. Drinking was an incredibly common pasttime among the American residents, probably stemming from a combination of homesickness, isolation and some really shitty work schedules (I worked 4 “days”, 4 “swings”, 4 “mids”(graves) then had 2 days off. For two years.). We all developed incredible tolerances for alcohol and perfected the art of “spending all of your paycheck”.
There was one guy, though, who never seemed to stop livin’ the dream. I don’t remember his real name, but he went by “Bones”. A tall, skinny guy, he seemed to be perpetually drunk or stoned (he wasn’t stoned, as we worked with sekrit guh’ment stuff that meant random inspections of our urine). He was a good time guy, always jovial, but always WAY too relaxed. He laughed at every joke, no matter how dumb, and was just that guy who’s always along for the ride.
We were sure Bones had Jack Daniels in his veins because outside of work he always had a drink goin’. We did too, so it didn’t really seem like a problem. Nowadays, Bones would be what educated folks call a “functioning alcoholic”.
But Bones is memorable not just for his demeanor and apparently superhuman kidneys, he’s also responsible for a memory that I can’t shake. A lot happened in the 2 years that I lived in Japan, and unfortunately I barely remember it through the haze and stink of Kirin and late night yakisoba. This memory lives on.
At the Squadron Christmas party, the entire group was assembled (as much as could be anyway, given that we were a 24 hour organization) to enoy the festivities and each other’s company, from the low ranking airmen (me and my friends) all they way up to the commander. Food and drink were had, along with dancing and entertainment, and it was a great night.
Eventually, toasts started to make their way around the event. Everyone was referencing their families and general feel goody crap that none of the young, single folk gave 2 shits about. Then the mic found it’s way to Bones. We all sort of watched in half horror/half joy as he started to speak. We knew this was going to be something to talk about.
Bones’ toast? He stood up, looked at our Commander (a Colonel) for a few seconds, then stared directly at his wife. More silence as we wondered what he was going to say. The room was silent. I could see the higher ranking folks starting to shift in their seats.
“You wanna git with a winnah, you better drop that chicken dinnahhhh!”
I don’t remember what happened to Bones (I suspect he was “pulled aside”), but that became the catch phrase for at least a month afterwards.
I think we’ve all known a Bones and thank God for that.
This story was inspired by Safeway’s 2 piece chicken meal deal. Which I just ate. And it sucked.