Chouette is Hell
by Phil Simborg, 1998
Phil Simborg
A strange feeling kept coming over me during chouettes. It was not quite deja vu, but there was something familiar about the feelings and thoughts and mood that was going on in my head, and until recently, I could not put my finger on it.

It came to me in the middle of the night, when I woke up in a cold sweat from one of my reoccurring nightmares about Vietnam. I pictured the bunkers, the smell of napalm, the sound of the helicopters, the stink of death.

I had never actually been to Vietnam, but I was once high on the draft lottery list and was always afraid I might have to go, and the nightmares started much later, a result of such movies as Full Metal Jacket, Good Morning Vietnam, and the like.

Been there or not, the nightmares made it very real to me. It was war; it was hell; I was surrounded by people trying to do me harm; I was fighting for my survival—kill or be killed; it was chouette.

I'm glad I had that revelation. I'm glad I finally found what that funny feeling I was having was all about. It has put things in perspective for me. I now understand that chouette is war. Chouette is hell. Kill or be killed. Now, I can focus on what is important in the chouette. No more mister nice guy. From now on, you had better watch out for me.

Phil Simborg is a fulltime backgammon player and teacher.
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