When I was a little kid, my two older brothers were both privates in the KISS ARMY. (Did that mean they kissed privates?)
I watched their indoctrination from across the hallway in a dazed-but-fascinated stupor. I didn't quite know what to make of this kind of hero worship. I just knew that my brothers were pretty cool... so I kind of assumed that their KISS fetish was cool, too?
Hey, that was my "normal." Don't judge.
At one point in the late 1970s, I think it was reported that KISS actually had the world's fifth largest army after the US, USSR, South Korea and Iraq.
Thank God my brothers never actually had to go to battle though... Even though they had cool uniforms (3/4 sleeve concert t-shirts, tight jeans and pooka shell necklaces) they would have been woefully unprepared for a real fight. Their meager weaponry would have only included:
1) A cardboard Gene Simmons Battle Axe Bass.
2) A fanatical ability to scream "I... ... WANNA ROCK AND ROLL ALL NIGHT... ... AND PARTY EV-UH-REE DAY!!!" like crazed bozos.
3) And a pervasive-but-vague, homoerotic love for big-haired men in greasepaint, medieval battle gear, high heeled boots and tight trousers. If you can call that a weapon.
At the time, I really wished that I was older... so that I could have answered the call. I wanted to do my part. I wanted to join my brothers in whatever fight the KISS ARMY was preparing for. But I was just a kid... to0 young for the army.
My destiny didn't include joining the army. Any army.
Looking back, I now see the debt my brothers paid for me. Their commitment to something much, much larger than themselves. I honor their service. Are they heroes or were they just doing their job? I suppose we each have to answer that question for ourselves, in the quiet of our own hearts.
I know what I think.
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I'm just glad they got out alive.
-- John Common
Scratch and Dent is the name of John Common's brand new column, which will appear here weekly, except when it doesn't. John came up with that name. We recommended punny designations we thought were, you know, clever, such as "Common Denominator" and "Uncommonly Good" and a litany of others. John politely informed us that he has "built up an aversion to all things 'punny' when it comes to my name. I think it stems from years of music writers being unable to resist the temptation in nearly every single story that I was lucky enough to get written on my behalf. I'd really like to avoid it, if possible." So there you have it. Scratch and Dent. Every week. Dig it. We do.