Saturday, October 11, 2008


Keith finally obtained a phone and now I have a much more clear picture of what he is doing and how he is doing. I was on line when he called, trying to google "military bases" while at the same time trying to avoid the calamitous news items that kept popping up with these inquiries.

When my phone rang, I figured it must be a family member; if I don't hear from Keith by four in the morning I figure I probably won't hear from him at all that day, simply because he has never once called me during my day light hours. (At four in the morning here, it is one in the afternoon where he is.)

I almost didn't recognize the sound of his voice! It's been almost two weeks since I had heard him, since he was unable to find the time to buy a phone. However, his deep throated chuckle was unmistakable.

He is stationed at a FOB. FOB is short for forwarding operating base. It's a fairly small station, though it has a chow hall. (Not that it matters much, he tells me he averages about one meal a day and has no idea how much weight he has lost already.) He lives in what are essentially large, air conditioned boxes, he rooms with three other men.

I finally figured out why he has been so busy, he's in charge of the classified mission! (It is very like him, not to tell me that until my questions made it obvious.) He has men under his command, including two Sergeants, the rank he was just promoted from. I am so proud of him!! He still can't tell me what he is doing, but he described it as "kick ass."

Now, I wish my husband were the kind of man who would describe taking inventory as "kick ass" or managing personnel files or something else along those lines, but I can't delude myself. It must have nothing to do with paperwork. Oh well, at least he is engaged and busy; it would be far worse if he were stuck somewhere in Iraq doing work that he hated and felt was meaningless.

He'll remember to get his address one of these days and already is reaching critical shortages of his chew; he goes through about a can a day. I remember my consternation the first time he put a chew in-I had thought no one actually, really chewed tobacco anymore, I thought it an obsolete custom relegated, like saloons and brothels, to the long ago west.

However, this custom is alive and well with my husband, and consequently, I must not only go on post, but into the little "shoppette" as the military calls them, the convenience store attached to the on post gas station. I so dread this. I hate going on post, but at least the commissary is usually filled with only the elderly veterans and a few solitary wives wandering the isles-I always go in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of the week for that reason.

But the shoppette is a whole other world. The small parking lot is perpetually full of large, hulking trucks and muscle cars with tinted windows and SUVs with custom rims. The inside is full of soldiers, usually still in uniform. The few women I have seen there are dressed to kill and at least ten years younger than me. I don't know why, but I never see middle aged moms with children in tow, I see platform shoes and halter tops.

Oh well. It may be foreign territory to me, but brave it I must. How fondly I remember the luxury of going to these places with Keith! Like the day he passed the promotion board, barely a week before deploying. We stopped by the Burger King on base for lunch, because we were both starving.

Finished, Keith stood, holding the trays and then his eyes began to twinkle. I watched him warily, wondering what could be coming.

"I'm Staff Sergeant now," he declared, thrusting the tray at me. "You carry it."

God help me, I almost did, so well honed are my instincts to serve. Instead, I stopped suddenly and put my hands on my hips.

"You may be Staff Sergeant," I countered briskly. "But you're still my husband; you carry that tray!"

And carry it he did, grinning, (past a table of equally amused soldiers who couldn't help but over hear), and opened the door for me, too.

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