On the rocks

Saturday I was invited over to a coworker’s house for a little Veteran’s Day barbecue. He’s an older cat, three kids, the whole deal. He and one of the other sergeants in our unit are both former drill sergeants, airborne and all that, so they’re pretty close. I’m just the guy who keeps ’em all in stitches, so I’m always included, even though I’m just a dirty leg (i.e. not airborne).

I came around dinner time. The sun was still around, behind the nearby houses. It had taken to autumn in the past couple of days, breaking from the high 80s we had at the end of the week and actually getting into jacket weather.

On the menu were fajitas, rice and beans–home cooked, mind you, none of that store-bought crap. I helped my host with the meat while we waited for our admin friend to show up.

Both guys were having tricky times with their families. My host started explaining his story to me as we let in the evening. Basically there were some cheating episodes by him in the past and old hurts were were finally starting to break things apart. You could tell things were tense in the house, among the wife and kids. Still, everybody was polite and courteous, no outright fights or anything.

We had been trying to call our missing party member, but no luck with his phone. He arrived alone after we had finished eating, talking about how his wife had snapped is cell phone in half, and how he barely escaped a bludgeoning from a furniture leg by the woman.

He was having quite a time with his family too. This one was on him, as he was openly pursuing an old flame, and was working to ship his current wife back to Germany. He told us the stories, laughing it up, and gave a few chuckles myself…

…But it still floors me how flippant most soldiers are about the fidelity thing. Officers, enlisted, civilians–everybody is always getting with everybody, married, single, with kids, whatever. It’s a sexual free-for-all.

I was having another conversation with that cat I met at our laundry building a few days ago, talking about using personal sites to try to meet people outside of the military ring.

“It’s just so toxic around here,” he said. “My first wife was a crazy bitch and was just looking to get someone to knock her up so she’d have some money coming in. She just had twins with the guy she has now. That poor bastard doesn’t know what he has on his hands.”

And it’s true, it’s a big joke when someone talks about how their current interest is from some obscure town, “Had to get one that wasn’t poisoned!” people say. Even the towns near military posts are notorious for gold diggers, clingers, and overall damaged and crazy relationships–men and women, now, I’m not singling out any one gender, I just have more experience with looking for lady-types.

“Everyone’s having marriage problems,” my Veteran’s Day host said as we drank some Crown on the porch after dinner. He rattled seven or eight names of people we worked with who were getting divorced. “I’m going to stick with mine, though–see what happens.”

“F*ck that,” our admin friend said. “I’ve got mine a flight already. She’s out in January.”

I just hope he fares better than my old drill sergeant did. He was having trouble too and three weeks after I graduated basic training, his wife shot him.

Makes you want to become a monk.


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

13 responses to “On the rocks”

  1. brogonzo says :

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. “Poisonous” has got the be the hands-down best description of the relationship scene in the military. As you know, I used to frequent Knox’s on-post club, and every time it was the same sad parade of losers and cheaters… people who might have been attractive once, but now, two marriages, several kids, and divorce settlements later, they’re just looking for an easy hump.

    And yeah, it definitely spreads to the surrounding communities. I’ve pretty much given up on the whole business, since the odds of finding someone who isn’t mentally and emotionally contaminated are mighty low around these here parts.

  2. Felyne says :

    I think the poisoning stems from the fact that everyone knows everyone else. And girls are jealous and catty with each other, this person can’t go to the bbq because that person is going to be there, and he cheated on her with his wife so just dont talk about her to him…. it’s a twisted little world that instills discontent in the mind.

    Personally, I don’t believe in love.

  3. wilsonian says :

    “Makes you want to become a monk.”

    Might want to think about becoming faithful first… use the monk deal as a last resort. 🙂

  4. Beka says :

    I’ve seen it for a long time, always living around bases myself…the home grown girls see the gallant men from far off places as a ticket out of town. Hello “Officer and a Gentlemen”. I know girls who will only date “strats” (local terminology for the AF guys). They all get married for more money, better insurance and hope for a better life…it never works. Sad, really.

  5. brogonzo says :

    It’s basically apostacy to say this, but let’s face it: there are a lot of dirtballs in the military.

  6. salmons says :

    Not that it hasn’t been that way for years. Soldiers–namely enlisted, are always the brutes of society.

    Sure there was a time of “civilized” warfare in Europe where armies squared off in neat rows, took aim and fired volleys in to each other. But you have to remember that the “gentlemen” (officers) weren’t the main targets. Enlisted jokers were still the grim and dirty jerks that they are now. Not much has changed.

  7. Felyne says :

    Why they’re called Grunts I suppose.

    My soulmate is a grunt. He’s exceedingly good at his job, and I love him to pieces. He’s not a relationship monster either, and is totally committed to his gal and their son. Oddly enough he’s the one who warned me over and over about the Fishhead who done me bad!

    There are exceptions to every rule. Environment is such a key factor in human behaviour, but that doesnt mean every human will behave according to it.

  8. brogonzo says :

    Too true, Salmons… In fact, we had a rape & pillage class today for Sergeant’s Time.

  9. salmons says :

    Bro: Nice. You all get some guys from Haditha?

    …What? Too soon?

  10. Dave says :

    I think the relationship thing is very similar with other relatively ‘closed door’ occupational cultures…for instance, policing. The divorce rate with police officers is huge (as is the suicide rate, a rate that is often swept under the carpet). There are very few at work that are on their 1st marriage…you often hear about so and so hooking up, whether at work or elsewhere. Guy and girl partners, working 10 hrs a day, seeing more of their partner than their spouse, its a recipe for disaster unless people are strong with their personal fidelity and professionalism. Other guys getting caught up in meeting women while at work or the bars as ‘blue fever’. I suppose the in-culture gossip creates quite a bit as well.

  11. dorkusbalorkus says :

    I was also going to say that infidelity is a big issue in law enforcement. My husband used to work for the sheriff’s office, as a civilian employee. When we were just engaged, everyone there tried to talk him out of it…they were all in the middle of a divorce or were having issues with their 2nd or 3rd marraige. The main thing that seemed to be the problem (from what I gathered from my husband) was that the guys there would spend more time with their buddies in bars than with their wives. And their wives would hire a babysitter and hang out with their single friends at bars, too. They were party animals. I think that almost creates a frat or sorority mentality. And maybe when you see your single friends having a good time flirting with some random guy or girl, you start craving that excitement. And the alcohol you’re drinking gives you even more courage to “have a little fun.”

  12. salmonz says :

    Wow, some really good points! I can definitely see the police/military similarities as well.

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