Back in the dark ages of time, I met The Hubs online. And because this was the dark ages of time, The Hubs and I met on AOL Instant Messanger. Yes. I’ll say it again. AOL Instant Messanger. Anyway, before we even exchanged photos of each other, he played his ace in the hole and informed me that he wore not one, but two uniforms: As a Confederate reenactor (!) and as a soldier in the US Army (!!). I was sold. Seriously, one of my big, all time weaknesses is a man in uniform. I used to beg him just to leave his uniform on for a little…while…longer…ah, don’t even get me started on the old jungle BDUs. I. Melt.
Because The Hubs was in the Army starting from like, age 17 and was actually on deployment when we got married (yup, that’s me, the War Bride), Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day rank pretty high in our house. Now, I’m not going to stray into anything politic-y, because I’m not politic-y, but what I will say is that our house supports the miltary. Period. I’m also an Army Brat–my dad was in the Army–and I think that this explains why I’ve been known to get all googly eyed around men in uniform, as well as why the military plays a role in a lot of my writing.
I write historical fiction. I think the past in amazing, becuase it’s dirty, gritty, scandalous; all the biggies. History is going to cuss at you and then spit in your eye. I love that. I began to notice that a commonality between all my works in progress was that, in some way, the military (usually the Army) impacted the storyline. The plot might not always take place during a war; sometimes it starts right as the war ends. It’s just so interesting to me: the choices people are forced to make, the impact war has on the psyche, on society, on thinking. I love to build on that kind of thing.
The worst, most hurtful critique I ever got was on a piece I was writing about the end of World War II. The main male character had come home with his leg missing. My critque person ripped me apart. She told me there was no way a reader would ever feel compassion for him or have any desire to read a sex scene about him and the female character because he was a monster. Seriously. I mean, I know that’s just one person’s opinion, but that’s the kind of attitude that gets me all fired up. I felt the need to protect him. And on a happy note, I was fired up enough to keep writing. Maybe not to finish, but definitely to keep writing.
But I digress.
So, in honor of Memorial Day, I submit to you, fair readers, two brief stories of my own personal military mayhem:
In 2008, The Hubs and I went on vacation to Gulfport, Mississippi, to say goodbye to his dad as he was deploying with the Navy. Also vacationing in Gulfport that week was Hurricane Gustav. Our of concern for our general wellbeing, the Navy evacuated the family members to a concrete warehouse on the Navy Base, where we were treated to sleeping on Army cots, eating MREs, and seven port-a-johns for 500 people to pee in.
But what Heather Hambel Curley noticed was not the lack of toilets or the fact a hurricane was headed straight for us, but the fact that the major pecentage of individuals in the warehouse were millitary men. Army. Navy. Air Force. And I figured, if this was the time God had picked for me to die, what better place to spend my final hours than in a building filled with cots and men in uniform.
The Hubs did not find this funny. In fact, The Hubs just asked what I was blogging about and still doesn’t think it’s funny.
No, really, that’s a gift from God.
Oh, and the Hurricane missed hitting us by, like, 200 miles, so it was a lot of panicking and gratutious M&M eating for nothing.
As for the second story, well, like I said The Hubs was deployed when we got married. It was 2003 and we all remember 2003: Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Hubs was not in Iraq, but was part of a peacekeeping mission to Kosovo, which is actuallly still a war zone. The Hubs requested I send him…lets call them “Pin Up” pictures of me because he was “so far from home” and it “would mean so much” to him. And, of course, he promised he wouldn’t show anyone said “Pin Up” pictures. They were just for his eyes and, well, maybe one or two for his locker.
Fine. That, kids, was my part of the war effort.
So, a particular favorite of mine included these ridiculous camo cheek revealing hot pants I ordered from Fredrick’s of Hollywood. The Hubs called me shortly after he got it and said, “That picture of you in the shorts was really hot.”
“Well, thank you,” I said. “I thought it was pretty nice.”
“Yeah, all the guys think you have a nice ass.”
“I showed the guys.”
“You know, the guys.”
“As in, all the guys?”
“Well, it’s hanging on my wall.”
Well, it’s hanging on my wall. Yeah. Awesome. No, I was horrified. I was so horrified in fact, that I relayed the story to my mother. My Baptist, preacher’s wife mother, who responded with a shrug and, “Lesson learned.”
A few months later, I had the opportunity to fly to Bulgaria to visit The Hubs when he had a four day pass over Thanksgiving. Nothing says romance more than Eastern Europe, let me tell you. Since it was only a short amount of time until he was coming home, he asked that I take some of the bulk of the “Pin Up” pictures back home with me. He, of course, would keep his favorites and the ones still taped to his wall (to which my brain actually giggled and commended me for supporting the troops).
When it was time for me to fly home, I panicked at the airport that our souvenirs would get broken in my checked luggage and crammed everything into my carry-on. Everything, that is, except for the envelope of “Pin Up” pictures in the front zippered pocket of my suitcase. Wait to freaking go! And before you say it, yes, as a matter of fact I do know they checked all the pockets of my suitcase. You see, getting into the United States from another country is not easy. They search you. They pat you down. A woman who looked like Large Marge from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure but sounded like Arnold Schwartzenegger commanded me to “Stick oooout your aaaaahms like dis” with such authority, I almost peed. And after all that, the Luggage Police search your luggage and secure the zippers with red ties to show they’ve been checked.
I’m an international superstar. Word.
So, anyway, there for a year, I was a “Pin Up” girl in an Army Boy’s locker. And there’s definitely nothing wrong with that! But let’s talk about “lesson learned.” Lesson learned should be if you’re going to be bringing “Pin Up” pictures of yourself home in your suitcase, don’t be so dumb that you leave the pictures in the suitcase and instead put your tshirts in the carry on to “keep them safe.”
Honestly. Sometimes I amaze myself.
The Hubs says if he still had a locker, he’d still hang my picture on the door. Awwwwwwwww.