My wildly entertaining letters to my son and other American Soldiers suffering in Iraq and elsewhere...posted in no particular chronological order.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dear Army Guys,

I trust you are all healthy, well-rested, wearing clean socks, and eating a nutritionally balanced diet. You know what they say: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. (And, whoever “they” are, they’re probably right.) You don’t need to be fanatical about it, though. As long as you eat a wide array of foods in various colors and shapes you should be fine. You don’t need to worry about whether or not your food is “organic” enough, either.

Personally, I’m sick and damned tired of hearing about “organic” food. What kind of food is NOT organic? I mean, c’mon, anything that rots is organic. Am I the only consumer in America who took 9th grade biology? Does anybody really think they can buy a head of lettuce that won’t decompose if they leave it lying around for a couple of weeks?

I get really pissed off at the grocery store when I see vegetables specially labeled “organic.” For cripes sake, ALL vegetables are organic! What kind of biologically impaired idiots are running the grocery store business these days? Are these grocery store management people merely ignorant, or are they just bald-faced liars? Inquiring minds should want to know.

Yesterday I saw two bunches of carrots sitting right next to each other in the produce section of my friendly neighborhood grocery store. One bunch was labeled, CARROTS, and sold for about a dollar. The other bunch was labeled, ORGANIC CARROTS, and cost $2.49. Excuse me? Do the grocery store people think I am stupid enough to believe there is such a thing as an INORGANIC carrot?

Yeah, sure, there are realistic-looking fake fruits and vegetables for sale at Hobby Lobby, but I’ve always just assumed everybody knew they were decorations. And even if you didn’t recognize this right from the get-go, surely you’d figure it out soon enough. How many bites of a plastic banana would it take to convince a guy he’s eating something that’s not “ORGANIC?”

I guess I wouldn’t mind so much if these ridiculous fad foods were labeled properly as ORGANICALLY GROWN, rather than just, ORGANIC. But maybe that’s just me being… me. I’m one of those snoots who complain to store management because the express lanes are improperly labeled 10 ITEMS OR LESS instead of 10 ITEMS OR FEWER.

I know it’s petty, but it drives me crazy anyway.
I hope all of you are eating well and wearing clean socks.

Much Love,

--An Army Mom ♥

Friday, June 02, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dear Army Guys,

This past weekend marked the 3rd anniversary of the auspicious launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Earlier in the week I noticed a letter to the editor published in the Bloomington Pantagraph beseeching the citizenry of our twin cities to join together in protest at a rally to be held Saturday in the city square. I couldn’t help but wonder what one might observe at such an event. After all, Bloomington-Normal is host to Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University, not to mention the Illinois State Headquarters of the Special Olympics.

All manner of deranged idealistic mayhem could ensue.

Thus, being the intrepid adventurers that we are, Rudy and I decided to personally bear witness to the OIF anti-victory rally as an event of potentially historic proportions. I concocted a plan whereby we would park at a municipal garage at some distance and make our way on foot through the police barricades and crowd-control forces. I detailed my plan to Rudy and suggested we synchronize our cell phones just in case we became separated if serious rioting broke out.

I needn’t have worried about parking. We easily found a spot about 20 feet from the “rally,” which turned out to be a couple-dozen aging hippies with hastily scrawled posters and a Mr. Microphone™. The OIF protesters were a disappointing bunch and appeared to be more in need of Geritol™ than justice.

Based on what I saw just by looking around I’d have to conclude that the average Bloomington war protester is a 55-60 year old baby boomer with chronic orthopedic foot ailments- Birkenstock® footwear seemed to be de rigueur- along with a penchant for clothing made entirely of hemp macramé. I could hear Rudy muttering, “Die, boomer scum, die!” under his breath to amuse himself. I’ll bet we could have scored some kickass reefer in ten seconds flat had we been so inclined.

Based on the speeches I could barely hear over the Mr. Microphone™, I’d have to conclude that the average Bloomington war protester is also suffering early-onset dementia. Three of the four speakers Rudy and I stayed to hear couldn’t stay on topic for more than a sentence or two. One man, who identified himself as a Teamster, went on and on about Bloomington’s newly-constructed Cellular One™ Coliseum. Although he personally worked on its construction, it still “just wasn’t right” for reasons that remain obscure despite his speaking at great length on the subject. I can only conclude that he is somewhat troubled at not having had a chance to collect unemployment this winter. How that was relevant to an OIF anti-victory rally is anyone’s guess.

A platinum-haired Dolly Parton look-alike started her speech by telling us how the war has touched her PERSONALLY. Seems her friend’s cousin’s brother is- GASP- an actual soldier IN IRAQ. (I know; I could hardly believe it either. Who knew there were real-live brothers of friend’s cousins over there?!) Then she wandered off on a tangent about global warming. It was a little bit nippy out there on the courthouse lawn and so I thought about yelling, “Yeah, global warming! Bring it on Baby!” However, there was something about her husband’s glowering demeanor that shut me up. The last thing a girly-girl like me needs to do is pick a fight with a 300 lb man wearing a BUCK FUSH t-shirt. I could sense that Rudy was grateful for my restraint. It’s not smart to mess with the sort of person who goes around wearing the BUCK FUSH line of designer clothing.

There was a man wearing what appeared to be a Vietnam era 101st Airborne uniform standing off to the side with an American flag held aloft. Like Rudy and I, he kept his distance from the rally participants and merely observed from the sidelines. I gathered he was there to counter the anti-victory theme and I was looking forward to a break in the speeches when I might have a chance to thank him for his service to our country. Unfortunately the fourth speaker, a despicable man who failed to identify himself at all, started babbling about that morning’s news reports of an intensive air assault northwest of Baghdad. This unidentified speaker informed his listeners that this “air assault” (he performed dramatic finger quotes in the air at that point, which is no small feat when one is clutching a Mr. Microphone™ in one’s arthritic claw) was, in fact, nothing but a “couple of paper airplanes” sent to “crash and burn” for the greater glory of the Bush administration.

I happened to know that the air assault referred to was a 101st Airborne operation, so I looked to see how my Veteran hero might react. Just as the speaker sniped, “ ‘Air assault?’ More like ‘assault with dead batteries!’ ” my hero abruptly executed a perfect military about-face and stalked off across the lawn, flag held high aloft. As a ‘Band of Brothers Certificate of Appreciation’ recipient myself, I was also moved to depart in haste at that point. I was in serious danger of pitching a fit right there in the midst of everyone’s Constitutional Right to Free Speech. As Rudy and I were walking away a frumpy woman with unfortunate facial hair attempted to ask us to sign some kind of petition. Rudy told her, “No thanks, we’re capitalist members of the military-industrial complex.”

As for my worries about riot-control, there wasn’t a cop in sight. In fact, the most dramatic “police action” I witnessed involved one of the elderly protesters yelling, “Hey, that’s my car!” at a roving meter maid ticketing an ancient GM conversion van. So much for the Bloomington anti-victory movement: this little crowd might do better to worry about their next bowel movement instead.

Suffice it to say that Rudy and I, along with 99.9% of our fellow citizens, support you, our beloved troops, 100%.

Much Love,
--An Army Mom

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

December 22, 2005

Dear Army Guys,

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukkah!
(and Joyous Kwanza, Happy Yule, Joyful Mithra, Pleasant Solstice, Glad Boxing Day, Jolly Winter, and Thrilling Secular Gift-Giving Season!) Whatever holiday you care to celebrate at this time of year is fine by me. I am always an equal-opportunity well-wisher.

It is the holiday season here at home and I’m sure you are all homesick and missing your families. Well, don’t. The fact of the matter is that everyone in the United States turns into a rabid and unrecognizably frantic creature at this time of year, probably including your family members.

Ordinarily rational people become mindless consumers incapable of logical thought. They engage in all manner of ridiculous activities, make utterly foolish financial choices, and then try to blame it on their religion. Perfectly intelligent people suddenly and inexplicably squander literally every spare cent they’ve got on all manner of useless garbage. They gleefully fill sacks and bags and packages with a bunch of junk that, a few weeks from now, nobody will even remember having either wanted or appreciate having gotten.

It is, in my humble opinion, an embarrassing spectacle of greed. You should thank your lucky stars to be absent of it this year. This is your chance to capture a healthy dose of perspective. There is something truly disgusting about millions of otherwise sensible people jostling like swine around the sloppy trough of the American mall, grabbing at the cheap commercial scraps of conspicuous consumption in the name of Jesus Christ. Yuck.

My son, your fellow Army Guy, was home on leave in November. We were fortunate to be able to celebrate our family Christmas a full month before my inner Grinch took full control of my personality. It was the most relaxed, fulfilling Christmas of my entire adult life.

It came as a revelation to me that it is not actually necessary to work out a seating chart for the family gift exchange. I discovered that our family can manage without the minute-by-minute “Holiday Agenda” I normally provide via an Excel document. Not once did I find myself standing in the middle of a room littered with wrapping paper to yell, “Okay, everyone, we’re six minutes behind schedule! Each of you has been issued a glass of eggnog. Please proceed to the fireplace for the mandatory ‘warm family anecdotes/humorous stories’ session. If you did not come prepared with a humorous family story to tell, raise your hand and one will be provided to you on a 3x5 card.”

Instead, I was able to relax and enjoy an unrushed, non-stressed, thoroughly happy holiday. And I didn’t even care that all but one string of Christmas tree lights inexplicably failed. Both of my sons were under my roof. Nothing else mattered.

It seems I may have caused a bit of holiday trouble for you, my beloved Army Guys, though. I’m really sorry about sending you the little tiny harmlessly insignificant practically microscopic bottles of holiday cheer. It was a mistake or, if you prefer the military jargon, a “snafu.” I should not have sent you those teeny-tiny bottles of liquid insubordination. Or, more accurately, I should have been smart enough NOT to send one to a certain kill-joy member of your unit whom I shall not name here despite my bitter resentment of his persnickety totalitarian regime.

I’m just kidding, of course. I understand, despite my wish to give each and every one of you a bit of holiday warmth and cheer, that the Persnickety Totalitarian Regime Enforcer was doing his sworn duty to keep you all safe and sound. He was right and I was wrong. Mea culpa.

You should consider yourselves fortunate to have been saved from the sort of reckless disorder I tend to inspire. All hell might have broken loose had you not been prevented from ingesting all .5 oz of the lethal intoxicant I sent, illegally mind you, through the United States mail. Looking back on the incident I am shocked at my lack of good citizenship. What kind of person sends a tiny bottle of holiday rum to her brave soldiers fighting in a foreign land during the holiday season? I must be a despicable human being; I should be sent straight to the brig for having perpetrated such a heinous crime. Honestly, I should be in prison lifting weights and getting a bad tattoo. If there were any justice in this world I would be wearing an orange jumpsuit right now and singing Johnny Cash anthems to inspire my desolate cellmates. (Who, upon hearing my singing voice, could rightfully request that I be remanded to permanent solitary confinement for the mutual benefit of the entire prison community.)

My son, a completely innocent party who is in no way responsible for me or my embarrassing Army Mom stunts, has been telling me for years that, in the military, “shit rolls downhill.” He informs me, often in a pleading and exasperated tone, that he will suffer the fallout of my many bright ideas about improving military practices and morale. “Shit rolls downhill,” he says.

I have never understood this maxim. It seems counterintuitive to me.
It has been my experience that a leader who shits downhill just ends up with a bunch of shitty followers. I have puzzled over this many times and I still can’t figure it out.

But, then again, I also fail to grasp the logic invoked by the idiotic phrase,
“No pain, no gain.” It completely eludes me.

Much Love,
--An Army Mom

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

March 3, 2006

Dear Army Guys,

Wow, I just read a very disturbing account of a disease I have not yet contracted, but might come down with any minute now. It’s called “Alien Hand Syndrome.” It manifests with a profound sensation that one or the other of a person’s hands is no longer under his or her control and, instead, seems to be operating independently of the sufferer’s will.

The offending hand will do things that seem to be of “it’s” own volition, such as unbutton a shirt the sufferer is trying to fasten or snatch things out of the sufferer’s “obedient” hand. Sometimes the alien hand goes out of its way to publicly humiliate the sufferer by performing obscene and inappropriate gestures among polite company. The alien hand is usually the left hand of a right-handed person- or the right hand of a left-handed person- who has suffered some sort of trauma to the corpus callosum region of the brain due to stroke, injury or infection. The alien hand is totally out of control, seems to have an independent “personality,” and does all sorts of things the person does not wish it to do. There is no cure and the only treatment is to keep the alien hand busy by giving it something to hold or manipulate.

This seems like just the sort of syndrome I am likely to contract. I just gave my left hand a serious inspection and it looked slightly malevolent. I think it may be twitching with an urge to do something sneaky and unplanned. I have not had a stroke, brain infection, or injury to the corpus callosum that I know of, but can we really be sure?

I mean, how do I know if my corpus callosum is intact? It’s not as if I can take a good look at it in the bathroom mirror. For all we know my corpus callosum could have been shattered in one of those freak accidents wherein the victim is rendered brain damaged without noticing anything the least bit unusual. I’m going to keep a close watch on my left hand. You just never know when the damned thing might up and do something crazy.

Worse yet, the alien hand is prone to do anything the sufferer worries it might do- it can literally read it’s victim’s mind! Given the sorts of bizarre ideations that regularly trot themselves out of the dressing room of my imagination and across the stage of my consciousness, an alien hand could be incredibly debilitating for me. My alien hand could do all manner of social damage; I’d never be able to leave the house again.

My god, I’ve only been worrying about this for a few minutes and already the horrific possibilities of the chaos caused by my alien hand are growing exponentially. Imagine what my alien hand might accomplish if allowed long-term unfettered access to my uncensored thoughts?

Imagine, if you will, that I and my alien hand are in line at the grocery store. My alien hand could plunge itself into somebody’s purse and rifle around in there, possibly looking for candy or small change. My alien hand might manage to find an embarrassing medicinal device in the bottom of some poor old lady’s handbag, which it would then wave in the air like some sort of Olympic torch for all to see. I would look for all the world like some sort of deranged Statue of Liberty, what with my obedient hand trying desperately to claw the alien hand into submission. The old lady might likely get a few good whacks at me with her cane before Store Security is able to take control of the situation. Even then, the incident would be hard to explain and might require legal representation.

Or, let’s say, I am attending a social event such as a cocktail party or wedding reception. My alien hand might up and decide it’s a good idea to stick itself down somebody’s pants. Can you even imagine the horror and abject humiliation involved in an antic such as that? There I’d stand, mortified, as my alien hand thrust its wriggling fingers into the boxer shorts of some other guest to whom I’ve just been introduced. What could one say at a time like that? Would it be possible to distract the molested person with witty conversation and clever repartee?
I think probably not.

Knowing the kind of alien hand I would likely possess, I have little doubt that it would sneak around behind my back learning sign language just to humiliate me by publicly mocking the deaf every chance it got. My alien hand would betray me with vulgar gestures in wildly inappropriate settings, such as at church or in unsafe urban neighborhoods. It would wave itself obscenely out the car window at drive-thru banks and fast-food outlets. It would give the “thumbs-up” to defenders of Al Queda and the “Heil Hitler” salute to Neo-Nazis. Yikes!

It’s a good thing I happened to find out about “Alien Hand Syndrome” before it found out about me. I’ve come up with a plan and I am ready should this disease strike me or any of my family members. The offending hand will be holstered at all times in a sort of bi-lateral strait-jacket. There it will be allowed to twitch and fidget with no harm done and, in reward for good behavior, it will be allowed small entertainments such as a Rubik’s cube or those cute Spanish castanets employed by flamenco dancers.

Please take good care of yourselves and, for crissakes, keep an eye on your hands.
You just never know what they might do.

Much Love,
--An Army Mom

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Presidents’ Day, 2006

Dear Army Guys,

Happy Presidents’ Day! I’m sure you guys are overwhelmed with parties and galas to attend in honor of the birth of dead presidents. Well, okay, maybe you’re not exactly overwhelmed. I myself have not been invited to a single Presidents’ Day soiree this year. I didn’t even get the day off work. What is the point of working at a school if you don’t get days off in recognition of worthy American legends? Lincoln and Washington don’t rate even an all-school assembly these days. Am I missing something here? Were Washington and Lincoln posthumously impeached and I just don’t know about it? Is America not America anymore and I didn’t get the memo?

Not only did I have to report to work as usual, but we also had a school lunch “special by request.” The “special by request” is a monthly event wherein we serve an entrée that’s not in the usual menu rotation. As the name implies, this is supposedly some fun-filled meal chosen on the basis of the children’s popular requests. I say “supposedly” because I have never heard even a single child beg for shredded pork BBQ, over-cooked macaroni with meat sauce, or breaded fish sticks- all three of which we have served this year as specials “by request.” The kids constantly beg for foot-long hot dogs and cheesy fries, but these entreaties fall on the unreceptive hearing aids of our leading lunch lady, Ethel, and, alas, go unrequited.

Instead Ethel dreams up inventive specials on her own recognizance guided by whatever food stuffs she happens to know are fossilizing in the freezers of the District 87 warehouse. Ann and I figure she’s trying to earn brownie points with the food service director by using up the ancient crap nobody else wants. Thus, our “special by request” today was the never-popular turkey & noodles.

On the face of it the idea of turkey & noodles sounds just fine; what could be more comforting than a steamy plate of creamy noodles cosseted by rich gravy abundant with roasted turkey? Mmmm, good! The problem is timing, namely Ethel’s. Ethel prefers to have the lunch entrée, whatever it may be, in the oven by 9:00 AM and on the steam table no later than 10:30. Turkey & noodles Ethel-style are not a pretty sight, especially by the time the fifth grade arrives for lunch at 12:50 PM. And, believe me, the fifth grade is a tough crowd to please under even the best of circumstances.

The children at Bent School are allowed to choose either the entrée or a sandwich or a disgustingly-sugared form of yogurt accompanied by cheese and crackers. I happen to be the luckless lunch lady whose job it is to make sandwiches on a daily basis, which is a time-consuming pain in the ass. I try to limit my daily sandwich output to less than fifty total sandwiches. That is why, on the days we offer our “special by request” meals, I am motivated to perform minor miracles of salesmanship in order to get the kids to take the entree. Fortunately, I happen to be blessed with an uncanny ability to get kids to accept unfamiliar foods they do not want to eat. I usually do this by various means of persuasion and/or outright misrepresentation of facts. (I just make stuff up.)

Today’s turkey & noodles entrée was a challenge, even for a master lunch lady such as me. I tried to formulate a plan, but sometimes these things just have to happen naturally. It is always important that the kids believe that I believe whatever crazy thing I’m telling them, and that requires a certain amount of flexibility. My original plan was to tell them that this was Martha Washington’s original turkey & noodle recipe. (I once got very good results claiming Britney Spears gave us a lasagna recipe.) My plan failed right off the bat when it became clear that the kindergarteners had never heard of Martha Washington and couldn’t care less. They took one look at the gooey mess of over-cooked gravy-soaked pasta on their plates and howled a collective, “Eeeww, yuck!” I had to come up with something much sexier than Martha Washington.

By sheer luck and that ethereal serendipity that sometimes infects even the most mundane of personal transactions; I hit upon the perfect foil. I started telling the kids that the glob of sticky, colorless gunk I was pushing was “comfort food,” and that we needed them to “just try it because we’re in a Comfort Food Contest and we need everybody to try it so we can maybe win!” This was easy with the remaining kindergarteners and the first grade. All I had to do was tell them it was a contest and they took the entree, most with no questions asked. Tyler J., a particularly annoying six-year-old brainiac, asked me if “they” would look in the garbage. I had no idea what he was talking about. He said, “You know, will they check the garbage cans?”
Seems Tyler wanted to know if we might get away with fooling the contest organizers by simply tossing our disgusting meal in the garbage and pretending everyone loved it. I told him that would be cheating and we don’t like to win by cheating, do we?
He seemed unimpressed by my ethical standards and demanded a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (That kid is on my lunch lady shit list from now on.)

Things were a bit trickier with the second graders because they wanted to know what the prize would be if we won. I told them, “We don’t know! Maybe it will be a new car!” Snotty little Demarco G. wanted to know what good a new car would do since he and his classmates cannot drive. I said it might actually be a bus. That still wasn’t good enough (the spoiled brat!) so I introduced the possibility of a motor boat and/or covered wagon with real- live oxen. SOLD!

Third grade was even more reluctant and required all the enthusiasm I could muster. I had to literally lean out the serving window and beg them to help us win this “very important, high-stakes contest.” They had no interest in helping us win a covered wagon, so I had to change the prize to a possible appearance on the Food Network. Third graders are all in favor of their lunch ladies being on television, especially when I told them it would be a wildly popular prime-time show “just like American Idol.”

Fourth graders, sadly, do not care if you win a contest or get to be on prime-time television. I switched tactics and told them we were part of a “top-secret government-funded scientific experiment.” If you wanted to be in the experiment you had to take the entrée. No sandwich eaters would be included, sorry, but it’s only for really smart people with, you know, “good taste.” I emphasized my “good taste” comment with finger-quotes, just to get the point across.

This gambit worked fairly well on the boys, but the girls just looked at me like I was… well… making stuff up. Fourth grade girls are a skeptical bunch and they often pretend to be suffering from anorexia. (This condition usually clears up as soon as we start selling ice cream and Cheetos™.) Fourth grade girls are viciously dysfunctional and should probably be institutionalized, if for no other reason than to protect them from each other.

The fifth grade is totally uncooperative and I hate those kids. I hope they all get beat up by the bigger kids at the junior high next year. If the fifth grade thinks I’m going to let them ride on my bus or appear on my Food Network show, they’ve got another think coming. Half of them are too fat to fit on a bus or squeeze into a TV screen anyhow, and that’s no joke. By the time the fifth grade had ransacked my stores of sandwiches I was tossing them slices of bread and packets of jelly and telling them to make their own [damn] sandwiches. “Here’s mud in your eye,” I said, flinging globs of greasy industrial peanut butter onto their lunch trays from a distance of four feet with my trusty 1 oz scoop. “Don’t come crying to me when this has to be scraped off the roof of your mouth with a painfully sharp stainless-steel dental instrument.”

I like to consider myself living proof that, despite government subsidies and welfare programs, there really is no such thing as a free lunch.

Much Love,
--An Army Mom

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Dear Army Guys,

I apologize in advance if this ends up being somewhat less than inspiring, but I am a little distracted by the very real possibility that I might run out of cigarettes before I’m tired enough to go to bed. That would be a small catastrophe.

I’ve already taken a bath and put on my comfy pajamas and so I don’t really want to go through all the getting dressed again and going out in the cold, dark night to buy new cigarettes hassle. However, I may be driven to do so by addiction, which in my opinion should be evidence enough that I deserve an insurance-funded 28 day vacation in a nicotine rehab program where I will be allowed to talk about my “issues” and feel sorry for myself 24/7.

If cigarettes were illegal (and therefore non-taxable) I would be allowed to whine about my “disease” on the Oprah Winfrey show and people would line up to give me a high-five and a group hug. If tobacco addicts were afforded the same compassionate psycho-babbly coddling given to crack whores and meth-mouthed rednecks, I would be encouraged to call myself a “survivor” and my fellow taxpayers would cheerfully hand over their hard-earned dollars to keep my cheeks stuffed with government-funded Nicorette gum. Instead, I and my fellow tobacco addicts are socially shunned and subjected to outlandish sin tax schemes that make the Boston Tea Party seem churlishly unreasonable.

The smokers of America generously provide an enormous amount of tax revenue to local, state and federal greedy people. And we are model citizens. Despite what you may have been led to believe, we are not a costly burden on society. Far be it from us to retire healthy and then hang around for forty years picking the pockets of younger generations. No sir, we smokers do our civic duty and die on time.

There is a brouhaha going on right here in Bloomington-Normal regarding a proposed ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. Personally I don’t really care one way or the other, since I hardly ever smoke in restaurants and I rarely find myself in a bar these days. Perhaps this is hypocritical, but I don’t like it when people are allowed to smoke while I’m eating.

Smoking sections in restaurants just don’t work for me. They’ve got the concept all wrong- they’re totally disorganized. In the civilized smoking section of my imaginings nobody would be allowed to smoke until everyone finished eating. This could easily be accomplished by switching on a NO SMOKING signal light every thirty minutes or so to allow new arrivals time to enjoy their meals. Diners would be reminded to watch for the signal and to then wave their menus around in an effort to both clear the air and alert their less observant fellow customers.

As for concern about the unhealthy effects of second-hand smoke on employees, I’ve got a simple solution for that too. Smoking restaurants should employ only smokers. I’ve even thought of a catchy slogan managers could post in the employee break room:

As for bars, I so rarely frequent them I don’t care if people smoke in them or not.
I see both sides of the issue and, if pressed to give an opinion, I think the smoking/non-smoking decision is best left to the proprietor of the business. I can appreciate that non-smokers don’t like cigarette smoke or its lingering effects. After all, I could stand in a roomful of guzzling alcoholics for hours on end and I would not smell like booze when I walked out of the place unless somebody spilled something on me. Stand in a smoky bar for an hour and your clothing will smell smoky for a while afterward, no doubt about it.

My non-smoking friends who otherwise enjoy spending time in bars often complain of having to shampoo their hair and wash their clothing. I’d like to ask them if they wouldn’t be doing that anyway but, as a member of a reviled minority, I’m trying to keep a low profile.

Still, there is something comical about these righteous non-smoking bar patrons. I don’t think they have any idea how ridiculous they seem to people who don’t find bars (or the people who frequent them) socially stimulating. They’re saying that their desire is to publicly intoxicate themselves in a place designated for just such an obnoxious purpose, which intoxication is quite likely to be followed by illegal operation of a motor vehicle. And, damn it, they want to be able to do this without getting dirty.

I find that funny in an “Only in America” sort of way.

I guess I’d better get to bed now. I need to get up early to wash my hair, launder my clothing, and go buy a pack of fags. Speaking of which, it’s been said that French people smoke like mad and rarely bathe. Pardonnez-moi ami puant, vous s'avèrent justement avoir une cigarette ?*

Much Love,

--An Army Mom in Paris

*Hey Stinky, can I bum a smoke?
February 13, 2006

Dear Army Guys,

I pray you are healthy and well and engaged in all manner of wholesome activities and vigilant security measures. Be sure to eat right, wear clean socks, wash your hands frequently, and get plenty of sleep.

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. I hope a full night of rest is yours for the taking, but my experience with the iron-fisted tactics of 2-130th leaders causes me to speculate otherwise. If you are forced to arise and function long before nature intended you to do so, please know that I feel your pain.

I, too, suffer the rudeness of being woken each morning long before I am ready to slip the silken bonds of sleep and touch the face of day, and I’m getting pretty damned tired of it. Rudy, my personal 1SG from hell, believes it is his duty to shake me from my slumber at the faintest crack of dawn. He says that I am becoming ever more resistant to his efforts. He reports that this morning, upon being nudged into wakefulness, I sat straight up and yelled,
He claims I then scrunched back down into my pillow and pulled the blankets over my head. I don’t remember this at all. At first I thought he was making it up, but… well, it does sort of sound like something I might say under duress.

I am of the opinion that people should not be forced to arise from sleep at any hour earlier than they naturally would if left to their own devices. It’s unnatural, unhealthy, and a clear violation of a certain inalienable right, namely the Pursuit of Happiness.

I am very happy when I’m asleep. My sleeping self minds its own business and infringes on the reciprocal rights of no one. I see no good reason my happiness should be wrecked by other peoples’ slavish devotion to an artificial construct of time. Why should I have to respond to the wholly arbitrary and thoughtlessly sadistic command to wake up? It’s an inhumane violation of natural law.

Thousands of years of evolution have clearly led me to NOT rise from my slumber before the sun has cleared the horizon. You don’t have to be Fred Flintstone to know that Homo erectus could hardly have jumped from his cave in the pre-dawn hours and gotten any genetic reward for having done so. He’d have stumbled blindly in the dark and would have either fallen to his death over the edges of cliffs or been eaten by nocturnal predators. Prehistoric early risers would have had their sleepless strands of DNA cut off mid-evolution by Darwinian forces far more persuasive than a radio alarm clock.

And that, I contend, is why anybody who calls himself a “morning person” is genetically substandard and ought to have his DNA examined.
I am particularly suspicious of people who, for no good reason, get up early on Saturdays. There’s something really fishy about that if you ask me.

Much Love,
--An Army Mom

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