Friday, August 14, 2015

BFF and the Change from Civilian to Army Acronyms

When I joined the Army in 2007, social media was spreading across the world.  Like every subculture, it began to have its own language and its own acronyms.  At that time I was starting to text more, especially with my then teenage kids.  So I began to be exposed to the flood of new texting acronyms.

At the same time, I was re-entering Army culture after a quarter century.  The Army has thousands of official and unofficial acronyms with few rules.  One of those rules says that if a three-letter acronym has the letter F in the middle the F is always the same word.  So BFR means Big F**king Rock.  NFW means No effing Way, and so on.

One day shortly after my re-enlistment my daughter Lisa burst into the house after soccer practice.  She was dropping her gear and going to Claire's for dinner.  She referred to Claire as her BFF.  I wasn't paying full attention to the blond blur that was passing through the house until I heard BFF.  I understood that Lisa was saying Claire is her best friend (still is as a matter of fact), but I was surprised she would refer to Claire as her Best effing Friend.

I said, "Lisa, when you say BFF, I get that Claire is your best friend, but is it like the Army acronym?"

The blond blur stopped.  She looked at me, smiled when she realized what I was asking and said, "Dad, it's Best Friends Forever! It's not Army."

Glad we cleared that up.  Not that it was a BFD.

My First Writing Mentor: Clint Swift



The Army made me a  writer.  In several blog posts, especially this one, I have written about how the combination of inspiration and free time of soldiers in the field gave the chance to learn how to write.
A movie of my life would have me start writing, a twinkle would show in my eye as I looked to the future, and within a minute I would be transformed from Grunt to Gogol!

As you can tell from my current writing, I am still a grunt who wishes he was Nikolai Gogol, but when the Army gave me my first journalism job in 1978, the guy who helped me the most was a civilian reporter for the Stars and Stripes newspaper, named Clint Swift.  I met Clint when I visited the Stars and Stripes office in Darmstadt, (West) Germany.  I told him what I was doing and he took an interest in me and my unit.

He also gave me a copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White.  I read and reread the book several times over the next year.  Clint told me how news stories worked, explained the difference between news and feature stories, and helped me to learn the craft of journalism.  I am currently re-reading The Elements of Style.  I could not even guess how many times I have re-read it.
I looked on line to see if I could find Clint.  No luck so far.  I hope he is proud that I made writing my career.  I am sure he would be amused I am back in the Army.


SPQR and America

Senatus Populusque Romanus The Senate and People of Rome Some of the soldiers I served with in Iraq talked about getting an SPQR tat...