Comments for "The Agreement"

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Produced by Rich Halten

Other pieces by Rich Halten

Summary: How two-timing love kept one GI out of Viet Nam

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Review of "The Agreement"

What a great piece. I grew up hearing lots of odd war stories, but never one quite like this. First rate, short, and funny. The narrative easily lets you imagine yourself right there, along for the "mission".

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Review of "The Agreement"

Here's one of the most off-the-wall, amusing stories about Vietnam you may ever hear.

Turn the clock back 40 years to a military base in Alabama. An enlisted man, the anonymous narrator of this first-person essay, agrees to a knavish plot involving his married commanding officer's girlfriend. The narrator -- let's call him Sam -- serves Major X by "dating" the officer's sexy, young girlfriend during the week. Sam avoids guard duty, and manages, because of his boss's good will, to defer orders to be shipped to Vietnam. Instead, Sam takes his Major's sweetheart to dinner, movies and malls, all paid for by Major X. The fact that the girlfriend is lusting to have an affair with Sam muddies the water but never overturns the love boat.

What distinguishes this drop-in from an off-color joke is the depth of its details, the specificity of Sam's recollections -- plus his cunning Southern accent. Rather than bragging about his exploits, Sam points out how complex things were during the Vietnam War four decades ago. In this polished yet unvarnished piece, producer Rich Halten plays Sam's voice off against insistent, though never intrusive, background music that might have been composed by Philip Glass or Steve Reich.

Overall, this real-life whopper of a tall tale would be perfect for an Ira Glass segment of "This American Life" devoted to artful dodgers. Long before 1967, way back in 1776 America was able to artfully (militarily) dodge its responsibilities as a British colony. Insofar as he epitomizes a kind of revolutionary, roguish American prototype, the narrator of this remarkable American-history lesson might just as well be dubbed Uncle Sam!