Bom-de-bom's Away . . .

Beer Mug Pink Palace
Grace Under Pressure

by: Carl Tripp

 

USAF 35th TFW, Phan Rang, Vietnam

I've learned that not all of us had the opportunity to partake of that vile potion the Vietnamese called beer. For those who did, here's a little story about that demon liquid formaldehyde we called Bom-de-bom' (`33'):

Beer Mug Close to Phan Rang Air Base was a small hamlet named Thap Cham (or possibly Top Cham) that seemed to exist for the sole purpose of relieving a G.I. from his `piasters' or military script. One of the top watering holes there was a place called the Pink Palace.

Beer Mug The Pink Palace, was painted a glaring flamingo pink (hence its name) and its appearance was like an old colonial mansion with pillars in front and a wide graceful verandah around the second floor. The first level contained a bar divided into two rooms: The bar room itself and a second `living room' where most of the `B-girls' promoted their wares. The second level was divided into little cubicles where the G.I.'s got `lucky' (If you consider a guaranteed dose of any of a dozen social diseases `lucky'). One could also meander around the verandah and drink your Bom-de-bom or yet another local atrocity called French Brandy and Coca-Cola. This form of brandy apparently came straight from water buffalo urine, if you catch my drift.

Beer Mug Anyhow, once in a blue moon, a few of us would get a day off and would head on down to the Pink Palace for some sorely needed R&R. One day I'd been drinking way too many Bom-de-boms and was amusing my inebriated comrades by walking on the waist-high ledge around the second floor verandah. My sergeant, Master Sergeant Jackson, was down below and, being in about the same `shape' I was, yelled for me to, "Jump, I'll catch you!"

      Beer Mug 'Jump, I'll catch you!' sounded like a GREAT IDEA, so I plucked up my false courage and indeed leaped like a gazelle (YA-HOO-ooo . . .well, maybe a sack of bricks). The only problem was --- I jumped too far and went through the bamboo roof of a nearby Vietnamese family's home.
     

Beer MugThe reason I named this piece `Grace Under Pressure' is due to what happened after I landed on the floor. In what had to be some kind of intervention by the `Big Guy', I landed on my rump in an empty spot within a circle of family members as they were sitting down to their evening meal. The patriarch of the family, although taken back by this strange apparition landing amongst his wife and children, nevertheless had the complete cool to simply pick up a bowl, fill it with rice, and hand it to me as if this sort of thing happened all the time! The look on my face must have been priceless since it set off a gale of laughter from the younger children (the `joi-sans').

Beer Mug So as not to appear a worse fool than I already was---I ate the rice, thanked the family, left money for the roof repair, and di-di'd as fast as I could. Yet to this day, whenever a tense situation arises in my day-to-day life, I still think about that old Vietnamese gentleman and how adroitly he handled that dinky-dau situation.

 

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