This month the anniversary of 9/11—or “Terrorists’ Christmas” as its more commonly known in the sandier parts of the globe—once again made everyone temporarily pretend to give a fuck, before going back to bitching about something super-important like the weather. Sort of like how it was by October 1st back in 2001.
Remember those first few weeks after, as world-renowned political scholar Jadakiss put it, “Bush knocked down the towers?” How exceedingly patriotic and polite everybody sudden became? Every fuckin car on the road had an American flag slapped on it somewhere, and drivers were so quick to let fellow drivers go it would take a half hour to go down the street. Then of course a few weeks into this love fest all it took was some brave asshole somewhere in America cutting some other asshole off and bam. Back to normal. But it was a glorious few weeks…
Now the most popular way to celebrate 9/11 is generally to spin a self indulgent tale on how closely impacted you were by it. Everyone from people who “just missed” taking one of the fateful flights—which has become Woodstock-esque by now—to people who kinda sorta knew someone that got vaporized. This year Keith Olbermamn rattled off so many people he tangentially knew that died on 9/11 he was practically down to his best friend’s gay hairdresser’s dog groomer’s sex operation doctor.
In the current climate, when I think of 9/11 I mainly remember world’s greatest hide-and-seek player Osama Bin Laden’s “Dear Jihad” letter he left for the international community in the following days. While he didn’t take direct responsibility for the attacks, he clearly hinted at it, bolstered by the note being written on a United 93 airline ticket. Ol’ garbage Bin was in rare form, and warned the U.S. that his goal was to drag the West into a global war with Islam, and that this endless war on several fronts will eventually bleed America dry, a tactic learned in Afghanistan’s war with the Soviet Union. At the time it seemed like he was boasting through his beard, but to re-read Bin Laden’s love note today reminds how chillingly prophetic he was.
The other thing I remember the most about 9/11 was on the day itself, the strange sensation of both urine and feces simultaneously crawling down my leg as I prepared for imminent deployment to World War III.
The fuckin timing didn’t help. It was the first week of my senior year of high school (jesus that’s a depressing realization) and I just strolled into my first class of the day: the extraordinarily vital life lesson factory known as Foods Class. Normally the perfect rigorous classroom atmosphere to relax after a nice wake and bake, or to laugh uproariously at yet another “accidental” cascading of pots and pans out of an overhead cabinet and onto an “unsuspecting” student (one supremely unfortunate student had this calamity occur to him literally every single class, usually as coincidence would have it, right as the teacher entered the room, and much to my infinite amusement), but today was a wee bit different. Our visibly unnerved teacher conferred with a colleague before wheeling a TV into the classroom with the worst thing imaginable on it: Fox News. Oh, plus the towers on fire and shit.
Or at least one tower was. Do you recall how you felt after the first plane hit? Obviously more concerned with important things like college admission or pussy, I wasn’t exactly immersed in international terrorism. When the first plane hit I just thought it was a mistake. A rather large mistake yes, but if you can crash the fuckin giant-ass Titanic into an iceberg than you can crash a plane into a building. I guess. Then the other tower got speared.
At that point, even through my THC-induced haze I was coming to the slow realization of what was happening here. We were under attack. From who though? The Chinese? The Russians? Aliens? Visions of “Independence Day” raced through my head when the news came over the air: they just hit the Pentagon. And holy fuck here comes WWIII.
At least that’s what I thought. For certain. No question about it. When I heard the muthafuckin Pentagon got blown up I felt the pit of my stomach drop out of my asshole. Because now two things were abundantly clear. Not only was WWIII underway, but I was about to be fuckin draft age. Fuckin great.
To be honest, my initial thoughts weren’t about the fireworks in New York, they turned to something much more important: myself. Why the fuck does the world have to end now? I haven’t even experienced the joy of being tried as an adult yet. And senior year is the prime fuck-off time. Now instead of playing pranks I’ll be driving tanks.
Of course that never happened thankfully, and speaking of driving, here we are sixteen years later and little 9/11 is old enough to drive now. I’ll be damned. It seems just yesterday 9/11 was in diapers using training wheels, and now it’s all grown up. Makes me feel proud.
Almost as proud as I feel about the outcome of 9/11 all these years later: complete and total success. For the terrorists.