In my 17 months in Afghanistan I have been called a lot of things.
In this land instead of wearing your heart on your sleeve you wear your rank on your blouse and immediately this signifies which box you belong in. The box is your stereotype that you fit neatly in and there is no use on trying to punch your way out because this is no hypothetical cardboard box, this is more a gorilla box with a padlock that you got no chance escaping from.
I started with this one, because it is one of my favorites. I am one of three daughters, and one of 11 female cousins on my mom’s side, so I never had any brother types growing up. Now, I have plenty of people to give me a hard time, punch me, teach me how to do a choke hold properly, make fun of my girly attire, tell me I look tired, and threaten to tattle on me to my boss, or to my own mother via Facebook. I jokingly say that being out here with about 20,000 men is God’s way of punishing me for never having brothers.
Men, especially those paid to carry weapons around all day, are macho. They are taught to be strong and overcome weakness. To show other men your worries, hopes, dreams, nightmares and fears seems to be admitting you are weak. (I do not believe this, but I’ve had this told to me and shown to me numerous times). They need someone to tell, and sometimes that someone is me. I have heard in graphically horrifying detail about numerous IED explosions, gunfights, and tragically, deaths. They usually start by saying it’s things they can’t tell their loved ones back home, because they don’t want them to have to know how bad it is. It’s a picture you can’t un-see in your head, it’s stories you can’t un-hear. But, I came here to support our troops. That is my mission, and if what they need is for me to listen to them, then I’ll do it. They made their sacrifice, one I’ll never have to make, so I can take the tiny moment of time to listen to their story.
- Husband Hunter
This is about the nicest term to label this category. I’ve heard many other versions. Let’s just put it this way, if my choices are old maid: living my life tending to my ever increasing population of cats, while hoarding Rubbermaid containers that have lost their lids, and using a broom to the ceiling because I’m trying to watch my game shows OR husband hunter: working in an active warzone with incoming mortar rounds averaging twice a week, with disgusting food, no privacy, and separation from every family member and friend I have ever known for 17 months because those are my only two options as a woman in this world, well then yeah I’m gonna start deciding if Pat Sajack or Alex Trebek is hotter now.
- One of the Boys
The insight into a military man’s psyche can be interesting, humorous, disgusting, perverted, and shocking, but mostly just disgusting. After watching one of my female coworkers walk by one soldier elbows his buddy, “Dammmmmmmn Dude, my team.” “No man! I saw her first, I came to the USO 2 days ago and dibbed that shit.” “You can’t dibs with no witnesses! It’s like padiddle you gotta have the car in sight first.” I’ve been told stories that I have repeated to grown men of other military branches that have made them gag. That’s me one of the boys in my camo ballet flats.
This one’s my favorite. This is the one where I get to embrace a soldier I haven’t seen in 3 months since he went on leave. This is the part where I get to race to Role 3 to see a soldier who has just been blown up get awarded his purple heart by a 2 star general. This is when I laugh so hard I double over and begin snorting on nearly a daily basis. This is how I get through every day thousands of miles from home… because they are my home.
|Perfect choke hold|