By Leibel Estrin, with apologies to Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and Howdy Doody.
SGT Minor: Hello! I am Sergeant Minor, along with the world’s oldest Private, Ruddy Rucksack. Ruddy, why don’t you share your name, rank, and serial number.
Ruddy Rucksack: My name is Ruddy Rucksack. My rank is PVC and my cereal number is 3.
SM: Hold on! Your rank is PVC? Don’t you mean PFC?
RR: Nope, PVC – Poly Vinyl Chloride. I was recycled from blankets taken from a PX in North Carolina.
SM: Oh, I see. And what about your serial number? Three??
RR: You asked for my cereal number—that’s the number of bowls I eat every morning.
SM: Ugh. That’s awful. In any case, I understand that you have had a long and extinguished – pardon me, distinguished military career. Would you like to tell us about it?
RR: Sure. During my many tours of duty, I fought with some of the bravest, most decorated soldiers of all time! Like SGT Calvin York.
SM: Excuse me, that’s Congressional Medal of Honor recipient SGT Alvin York. Who else have you served with?
RR: MAJ Dick Summers, who led the Band of Brothers’ Queasy Company!
SM: I hate to interrupt, but Dick Winters led Easy Company. Is there anyone else interesting you fought with?
RR: Yes, Salvatore Finklestein.
SM: I never heard of him. Who and when did he fight?
RR: Everybody and all the time! I mean the guy was so ornery that the first thing he would do every morning was bark at the guy in his mirror!
SM: Hmmm, that must have been interesting! Tell us about your medals.
RR: See this ribbon over here? I got it for mop-up action at the Battle of the Bilge!
SM: Wait a minute! Don’t you mean the Battle of the Bulge, one of the great turning points of WWII?
RR: No, I’m talking about the Battle of the Bilge—it was an epic garbage fight with sailors at a bar in Hawaii. The MPs made me mop up the floor, and since I got calluses, I told my CO I was wounded in action.
SM: That sounds a little strange to me. What about this one?
RR: That’s my Confessional Metal of Honor.
SM: You must mean Congressional Medal of Honor, and I don’t buy it for a minute.
RR: Ok, I confess. You got me. On my honor – I picked it up from a pawn shop. It’s made from real, authentic aluminum. That’s why I call it my “confessional metal of honor.”
SM: What about that yellow device over there, right below the other ribbons?
RR: That’s a mustard stain. I’m a sloppy eater.
SM: What about the green one over there – who gave you that?
RR: Do you want to know the truth?
SM: Of course!
RR: I got it from my tailor. He said the color looked good on me… Actually, I did win a blue ribbon, but it’s too big to fit on my uniform.
SM: You’re not kidding me, are you?
RR: I wouldn’t kid you – unless I thought I could get away with it! But it’s true. I did win a blue ribbon.
SM: For what?
RR: A Betty Crocker bake-off contest! There was a lot of competition, but my half-baked pie-in-the-sky was better than the rest.
SM: You must be very proud.
RR: Not as proud as I am for getting busted!
SM: You were busted?
RR: Yeah. I used to be a SFC, but now I am a PFC.
SM: Hmm, that’s pretty bad. What did you do to get busted so far down in rank?
RR: Well, on a dare, I went into the Officer’s Mess. And you know how everyone puts their hats on the coat rack…
SM: Yes, I’ve seen that.
RR: So I went in, see, and there was this hat with all sorts of scrambled eggs on the brim.
SM: … and?
RR: And I poached them!
SM: You stole the scrambled eggs off a general’s cap?!
RR: Yeah, and I would have gotten away with it, too, but MAJ Pain caught me. He sent me to the brig, along with CPL Punishment, the guy who dared me to do it.
SM: Besides losing rank, were you punished?
RR: Yep. I got 30 days at hard labor!
SM: You were probably miserable.
RR: You’re not kidding! Those last few hour of contractions were awful. You want to see my stretch marks?
SM: No, thank you! I think that’s about all anyone can handle for right now.
RR: You want to hear about some of my other exploits?
SM: OK, but these better be good!
RR: Well, I was at Custard’s Last Stand!
SM: Wait – everyone knows that it was LTC George A. Custer, not Custard!
RR: Well, it used to be Custard, but he dropped the letter “D”.
SM: Why did he do that?
RR: Because that was the grade he got in Tactics and Strategy!
SM: Alright. One more thing – I’m going to give you some common military terms, and you give us the definition.
RR: Go for it – I know my stuff.
SM: The first one is MP.
RR: That’s easy; it stands for menopause!
SM: It does not! It stands for Military Police.
RR: I like my definition better. It explains why they are always so grouchy!
SM: Here’s another—KP.
RR: KP? That stands for “Keep Peelin’!”
SM: What’s a “Staff Sergeant”?
RR: It means if you mess with him, he gives you the shaft!
SM: Why do they call it the “Reserves?”
RR: Because they reserve the right to tell you what to do and where to go!
SM: Okay, that’s plenty. Thanks for wasting our time on this interview.
RR: Wait–I want to share a critical piece of advice I gained from all my years in the military.
SM: Ok, what is it?
RR: If the bedbugs bite, bite ‘em back!
SM: Happy Purim, all!
Originally published in the Purim 5780 issue of the Jewish-American Warrior.