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My Friend Stan

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The war in Iraq was brought home to me last night. Right out of the blue, right into a living room in suburban Las Vegas, Nevada. Brought home and dumped unceremoniously into my mind by a pair of perfectly-coiffed, over-botoxed talking heads grinning like lobotomized idiots as they struggle to keep up with their teleprompters.

Yeah, I’m not a big fan of media flunkies especially those found on local levels the country over.

I’d just gotten home from work. I had kicked off my shoes, poured a tall glass of iced tea, grabbed a handful of Ritz crackers and was beginning to melt into the couch. Seconds after I turned on the tube, I was jolted out of a state of semi-conscious after work funk as faces I knew and knew well began flashing across the TV screen at me. “What in the fuck did these guys do now?” I wondered to myself. Just exactly what sort of trouble did my friends get into that would make the 11:00 clock news? None as it turned out. Fortunately.

I turned up the volume on the tube and just caught the ass end of the story, “… and a memorial service will be held on Sunday, June 19th 2005. His parents would like to thank all of his friends for their continuing support during this time of very great sadness ….”

Cut to commercial.

“Well, what the fu… Whose parents? What happened to who? Where? What in the hell is happening ? And WHY are my idiotic friends on the 11:00 clock news?”

Flipping through the channels real quick I caught the beginning of the story that I’d just previously missed, airing on another local news broadcast. “And in Iraq today, blah blah blah blah blah … a local soldier was killed when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. Corporal Stanley Lapinski, 35, of Las Vegas will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors and…”

I started to get this empty feeling in my body and I began to shake inside just a little bit ever so slightly. It was shock setting in, is what it was. I kept on running the news story through my head. “That cannot be right, must be some mistaken identity” or something. It’s not true, I just saw him a few months back when he was home on leave.

As I ran the scenario through my mind I felt as if I was just waking from a bad dream only to find out that I was still in yet another bad dream. I just kept on telling myself that my friend Stan was not blown to pieces in some filthy assed, godforsaken alley in fucking Baghdad. Nah, he didn’t just lose his life at 35 years young, to some chickenshit cocksucking insurgent in an urban ghetto halfway across the planet.

It didn’t seem real. It still does not seem real. But there he is on the national news. Another number. Another casualty. Another day. His death just one of 7 or 8 others for the day (actually he was killed on the 11th, but it was not reported for a few days, pending notification of next of kin and all that.

I went to bed not too long after I heard the news. I layed there for just about an hour, running it through my mind trying to shake this feeling of surreality that it gave me. I woke up the next morning to my phone ringing. It was my buddy Johnny H., asking if I’d heard the news about Stan. Any hopes of it just being a real bad dream out the window. A few minutes later I was off the phone and I turned on the news. Guess what the first story was ? “A local soldier was killed today in hostilities in Baghdad when his vehicle was targeted by an IED”…

I just fucking lost it. I cried like a damned baby. I cried until I could not cry anymore. Period.

You guys don’t know him personally but you know him. He lives next door to you and works with you. You’ve probably ran into him at the corner bar and had a beer and shot a game of pool. Stan was a cool guy. Easy going, never had a bad word for anyone, liked by all who met him and a good point guard on the B-ball court. Just an all around cool guy.

We were never super close but we were good friends nonetheless. We would run into each other at used record stores. We’d try to make the other guy jealous of our scores and finds, just friendly collector competition shit. We used to be part of the same DJ collective (“Blue Velvet Elvis”) that would throw these crazy “Monday Night, Start The Week Off Right” parties, then laugh as we were suffering our fool asses off the next day at work. We dated a few of the same chicks and exchanged notes and stories on ’em and usually ended up having a good laugh all about them.

Last time that I saw him was about five months ago. He had thought he was all done with his tour of duty but his unit was held over like so many others. I said goodbye to him with something along the lines of “Later Ram-Bo, don’t wear out your machine gun” or something equally goofy like that. We shook hands and went our ways. I had no idea that I wouldn’t see him again. No one ever does.

So, Stanley, wherever you are, may your soul rest in peace. I’ll miss ya man.

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About CoolH


    A very moving tribute.

  • Yeah but was he fat?

    I mention that only to be amazed how you can be a dick in another area and then write such a wonderful piece (except the “cocksucking” part) here about a friend.

    It’s freaky sick isn’t it? I’ve worried along with families who haven’t heard form loved ones for months and months and months. I’ve talked to a couple of families who lost loved ones in war (even if ithappene din Vietnam the feeling is just eerie, mixed with pride). I don’t have friends over there myself (nor acquaintances that I’m aware of) – just the way it worked out I guess. But if I did I’d be worried to distraction every single day.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks HW and very very sorry for all involved – you made it very real

    Temple, people are complicated

  • >>Temple, people are complicated

    News at 10 🙂

    Working through contradictions is a life’s work

  • HW Saxton

    Naw TS he wasn’t fat. And,hey man I did
    try to sincerely apologize about that
    bit of stupidity on my part anyways. No
    one wanted to accept it but,I did try to
    apologize and it was very sincere. Also,
    the lambasting I got from several folks
    was much more vile and offensively worse
    than my original answer ever was.I don’t
    feel like arguing just now any kind of
    ways. Just know this is closer to me,
    the real me,than that smart alecky type
    of answer was, OK?

    It was just a complete f’ing shock to
    find this out man. Just don’t seem real.
    That’s about all I can say. He was my
    buddy and now well…. He’ll always be
    my friend. It was very surreal to see a
    friend, someone you knew well on the CNN
    news and to find out how violently he
    died. There wasn’t enough left of him to
    bother with sending home his pops told
    me. I almost had to vomit after I found
    THAT out. I’m an extremely sad person
    today, I must admit. Thanks for reading
    too y’all, I appreciate it.

  • HW Saxton

    Temple Stark, Listen,Please do not take
    my usage of the term “C**ksucking” to
    heart OK?. Please. It was not any kind
    of an assault on anyone’s sexuality or
    anything even close to that believe me.

    ‘Twas just a curse term.It could of been
    any number of words ike: “Motherf**king”
    or “Goddamned” or etc etc etc. You get
    the picture I’m sure. When I wrote that
    I was vacillating between rage at some
    sort of an enemy I cannot strike out at
    and a very deep sadness and shock at the
    loss a good friend who was needlessly
    killed by filthy friggin’ animals.

    I just tried to write what I was feeling
    at that second and that was the word I
    chose. At another time it would likely
    have been another profane verbal assault
    of some sort,different but with the same
    underlying emotion. Peace.

  • I take things to heart deep as well. I understand. I do.

    I think I’d be raging hard as well, though I don’t think i would have been able to get my fingers to function on the keyboard.

    i didn’t take it any other way. The word jumped out and seemed out of place. But a lot of things do these days. Keep your writing talents going. Take a breath before posting and type it all out elsewhere. It all gives you time to pause and reflect on what you’re doing. I do that often and often the inner rage disipates. Not always.

    Temple “unasked for advice” Stark

  • HW Saxton

    TS,Thanks man.Simply,thanks.I appreciate
    any and all advice I get. It was a very
    cathartic post for me and if I didn’t
    get it out it would’ve been eating me up
    all day long.And then some.

  • Angela

    I found your blog when I did a search for Stan Lapinski. I never met him, but his name & info was passed on to me through a friend of his from the Savannah area with USO. I started writing to him & sending care packages in Feb.

    It was nice to read all of your memories about him since I never really knew him. He seemed like such a great person. In fact, I was diagnosed with cancer back in April & when he found out, he sent a card and had all the guys in his unit sign it. That really brighten my spirits!

    I am sorry for your loss. I just wanted to connect with you after reading your blog.
    Take Care-
    Angela Pastore

  • H.W. Saxton

    Hi Angela. Thanks for writing. How are you feeling first off? Are you doing the Chemo and stuff? I just got done going through that with my mother as she had Colon cancer. I hope you are feeling well. Stan was a super nice guy. I know him from Las Vegas where I live and where Stan lived for a long time before joining the service. It was really sad about Stan and all of us here who knew him were pretty much freaked out about it to say the least. It was beyond weird to see your friend on National TV as a war casualty. That was real nice of Stan to be in touch with you like that. It was not of character for him to be sure. He’ll be missed I dunno what else to say there. Hey, keep in touch and write back if you want. What part of the country do you live in? You’re not out here in Nevada are you?

  • Dave

    Hello H.W.
    Stan is my wife’s cousin… actually second cousin to be exact. Thank you for giving us another side of how this has affected people. Your post along with all of the reflections on him about him given during the reception following his burial at Arlington makes me amazed at the man he was. Dispite having never met him myself, his death has affected me as well. … it is strange to think that you can miss someone you have never met.
    Thanks again.

  • Angela

    Hi there- Thanks for writing. Chemo is going OK. I have my 7th (out of 12) treatment tomorrow. It’s rough, butit could be so much worse…you know? How is your mother?

    This past weekend I was in Baltimore visiting some friends and we spent the day in DC. My mom’s uncle was just buried in Arlington last month, so we stopped by & I looked up Stan’s grave. I have some pictures if would like them. (I don’t know if that would be uncomfortable…) The stone is not up yet, but there is a marker. It was very sad to be there, but I am glad that I went. I also mailed copies of the letters that Stan sent me to his parents. He always refered to them as the greatest parents a person could have & I felt like it woud be nice for them to have. I just received a card from them, which was good b/c I just looked up their names on the internet…hoping I had the correct address. I can’t imagine what they are going through.

    I am actually in GA…north of Atlanta, so pretty far from Las Vegas 😉

    I hope that you are doing well. Talk to you soon.