A brilliant satirical work by Tuli Kupferberg and Robert Bashlow, published in 1966 but unfortunately long out of print. (I got my copy from a used book dealer in England.) It is literally what it says it is, a bizarre kind of self-help book that lists exactly 1001 humorous ways to beat the draft. But don’t try this at home, kids! The list is interspersed with cartoons, photographs, and newspaper clippings to form sort of a lengthy collage.

Some selections:

1. Grope J. Edgar Hoover in the silent halls of Congress.
2. Get thee to a nunnery.
3. Fly to the moon and refuse to come home.
4. Die.
5. Become Secretary of Defense.
11. Start to menstruate. (Better red than dead.)
52. Tell the draft board that you will send your mother to fight in Viet Nam in your place.
54. Organize your own army and advance on Washington.
86. Learn to talk with your anus.
194. Give away copies of the Communist Manifesto to the other inductees.
395. Tell them you like Theater of the Absurd but this is too much.
580. Commit an original sin.
633. Walk in wearing a big diaper and say: “Well, I still have some problems.”
724. Bring a gun and a target and at an appropriate moment (say the eye exam) lean the target against a wall and start shooting at it, screaming: “Kill the Commies! Kill the fucken Commies!”
813. Be yourself.
870. Tell them you’ll go only if you can stick to a strict macrobiotic diet.
939. Play dead.

A lot of draft-dodging strategies sound clever, but the odds are that the military has anticipated them and has prepared counterstrategies. Sure, back in grammar school, you could get out of class if you claimed you had a certain condition (such as a stomachache) and the nurse couldn't prove that you were lying. The military adopts a higher standard to prevent malingering; if you can't prove that you do have a particular disease, then you're okay, and you're off to the jungle.

A story:

During the Vietnam War, my father and his good friend--along with about forty other students at their university--were called for the draft. Now this sort of thing happened all the time at the university, so the military had arranged for a school bus to take the students down to the place where they were to be tested.

On the appointed day, my father, his friend (Mr. Jackson), and the other forty students (except for those who were burning their draft cards and such) got on the bus. On the long ride downtown, the students were filled with manic glee--they were scared, sure, but they all knew that they had the perfect excuse. One was on crutches, one had a back brace, another had his arm in a sling, another wore an eyepatch, another had perfected a nervous twitch, and about ten had doctor's notes saying that they were too sick to serve.

The students quieted down when they actually arrived at the testing site. My father's number was called, and he went in. He took the visual-acuity test. His vision, like mine, is abysmal--worse than 20/400--and he wears coke-bottle glasses. They looked at him suspiciously, checked his eyes with some gadget to make sure he wasn't faking. He wasn't. They laughed at him, stamped him 4-F, and sent him back to the waiting room.

Then Mr. Jackson went in. He passed the visual-acuity test without difficulty. Then he took the test for colorblindness. Now, you've probably seen these tests before; they consist of a hodgepodge of little 1-cm dots of varying shades of color. Within the hodgepodge, some of the dots are arranged to form a digit or a letter. On one type of card, you can perceive the digit only if you are colorblind; on the other, you can perceive it only if you are not colorblind. Typically you get one of each card; that way, if you pass the visual acuity test but claim you can't see any numbers, they know you're faking.

The examiner slides a small scope towards Mr. Jackson and sighs. "All right, son; look in the eyepiece and tell me what number you see."

Mr. Jackson obediently bends over and looks. "Uh...sixty-two."

The examiner's eyes immediately snap to Mr. Jackson's face. "What?" he says quietly.

"Six...two. Sixty-two." My father's friend shrugs timidly, then sits back.

Pause. "Look again."

He looks. "Sixty-two. Really. I...I'm not lying, sir."

The recruiter gives my father's friend a long stare. Without moving his eyes from Mr. Jackson's face, he slides the scope behind his desk, replaces the card, slides it back. He picks up a large manual, looks down at it for a few moments, then glares at my father's friend again.

"All right, son. Look again."

He looked. "Seventy-ei..."

The recruiter reaches across the desk, yanks the scope out from underneath Mr. Jackson's eyes, grabs his draft card, stamps it 4-F, and throws it back. "Get out of here, boy!" the recruiter bellows.

Turns out Mr. Jackson was colorblind...but only in one eye.

My father and his friend were the only two people on the bus going back.

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