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You're in the Army Now
Part Four – "What Matta, GI, No Work?"
by Don Drewniak

Dolores, Phaedra and I headed back to Worcester two or three weeks later during a ten-day leave. Upon completion of the leave, I flew to Seattle on a commercial jet, while Dolores returned to teaching. I stayed overnight in a Seattle hotel before boarding a commercial flight that would take me to Taipei via Japan and Guam. On board the flight were two Navy E-3’s, one was nineteen, the other eighteen. My orders were to take charge of them.

Upon arrival on a Sunday morning, we took a cab to the Defense Command and were dropped off in front of a trailer. The lone occupant was an Army E4. After exchanging small talk, he stated that there was nothing he could for us as he was a weekend fill-in.

“Leave your duffel bags here. Go out the main gate and turn left. A block away on the opposite of the road are several hotels. Take your pick.”

Addressing me, he said, “You get your own room; the Navy boys share. You’ll get reimbursed. They take our dollars. Once that’s done, come back and pick up your bags. You’ll get taken care of tomorrow.”

Off we went. The first building on the right housed the Okay Bar.

“Hey, let’s get a beer,” said one of the Navy kids.

“Yah!” blurted the second one.

In we went. There was minimal lighting in a long narrow room with an empty bar on the right and fifteen women standing along the wall on the side opposite the bar. All had tags affixed to their blouses just above their left breasts. I later found out that the tags were nicknamed “VD badges.” The women were supposedly checked once every three weeks for venereal diseases.

We took the first three stools at the bar. Our beer choices were Taiwan Beer and Wine Monopoly Beer and Taiwan Beer and Wine Monopoly Wine. We ordered three beers. Three large green bottles of beer were placed in front us. Before we had a chance to take our first sips, the first three women in line came over and literally pulled us over to a booth.

I ended up flanked by two of the women. The Navy kids flanked the remaining one. Seconds later, the “Boss Man” appeared. Addressing me since my uniform indicated I was the ranking man, he said, “Fifteen NT.”

Totally puzzled, I squinted my eyes, raised my hands and asked, “What?”

“Ah, smart GI. Ten NT.” While I was still clueless, the kids plunked a bunch of U.S. bills on the table. Boss Man scooped them up while the woman sitting on the outside of me grabbed the Navy kid opposite her and off they went. They were followed by the “couple” sitting opposite me. Then what was happening finally dawned on me.

Boss Man: “Ah, smart GI, you get bargain, five NT.”

“No.” I waived him off.

The remaining “Lady of the Afternoon” grabbed my crotch and said, “What matta, GI, no work?”

“I am married, have a wife.”

“So, no matta.”

“No, sorry.”

“Please, I go back line.” She pointed to the end of the line.

I pulled four dollar bills from my wallet. Placing one of them on the table, I pointed to the beer.

She nodded and picked up the dollar.

Making sure Boss Man was out of sight, I removed her hand from my crotch and put the three remaining dollar bills in her hand. She showed a faint smile while a tear rolled down from her left eye. I walked out of the bar after gulping down a third of the beer.

One dollar in 1968 was the equivalent of eight dollars today. I way overpaid for the beer. It was worth it. Also, the going rate for a prostitute was $1.50. No regrets.