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Showing posts from February 16, 2010

Home from Iraq--"What was it like over there?"

Foreign students entering American culture are usually surprised then dismayed by the question "How are you?"

The foreign students, at least the ones who have never been to America before, try to answer the question and say how they are. They soon find that is a mistake. No answer is expected.

In America, "How are you?" is followed immediately without a pause by "I'm fine." Then by a monologue such as, "I got this totally awesome new Coach purse just by friending the Coach page on Facebook, like free. So did I tell you my roommate just went totally whole foods. Grrrrross!! . . ."

The fifty-year-old-white-guy riff on this I have been hearing lately is, "What was it like over there?" After that question there is a pause and a wide-eyed look that says 'Please don't say anything awful.'

My usual answer is, "Hot."

After that answer, the person I am talking to exhales audibly, smiles, then says, "I am so bus…

Medal Inflation (Background): Specialist Sunshine and Sergeant Oblivious

When everyone dress alike personality almost jumps out of the camouflage clothes. Two guys who served together from the beginning of our deployment, wore the same uniform, but are a stark contrast in their personalities are Specialist Sunshine and Sergeant Oblivious. On the outside, they are both over forty, both need to spend more time at the salad bar than at the main course line, both initially struggled to pass the fitness test, and both are the kind of soldiers who cause pre-emptive groans when they open their mouths to speak at a formation.


Not even close. Specialist Sunshine never seemed to get dragged down by circumstances. At every mission change, he just kept working. As his squad leader Sergeant Oblivious deteriorated throughout our deployment, Sunshine was one of the few people who did not make fun of him behind his back. Sunshine makes jokes, keeps to himself, works hard, and ran as much as ten miles in a day to get ready for the PT test after living a very sed…