Last night when I got back to my room, I had a hankerin’ for some chocolate chip cookies. Since the PX is near my room, I decided to go over and get some Chips Ahoy cookies – since I didn’t have any fresh baked, delicious, home-made cookies to eat (hint, hint) – and some milk. The PX was crowded. Apparently another unit is here that’s been in-country (that's code for being in Iraq or Afghanistan) for a couple of months and they hadn't been able to consume any alcohol. It’s always crowded then - guys buying necessary items like junk food, alcohol, cigarettes, etc - the finer things in life. I just about turned around and went back to my room, but those chocolate chip cookies were calling to me.
(The base commander’s alcohol policy is that you can consume two alcoholic drinks a day. Beer, whisky, vodka – two per day. No more. You need to know that for my story.)
The alcohol was being grabbed fast and furious. Beer bottles were clinking in the arms of young soldiers. Bottles of hard liquor were everywhere. Packs of cigarettes are being pulled off the shelf. Cans of chewing tobacco just waiting to be opened. The guy just ahead of me had 4 porn magazines clutched in his hot little hand, in addition to everything else I just mentioned. Guys are talking about finding the biggest bottles of beer they could find – regardless of brand or taste – they just wanted the biggest one. Remember, they could have two of'em.
And there I am, a Lieutenant Colonel. A smart, dignified, sophisticated man, standing with milk and cookies amidst all these young guys with their beer, cigarettes and porn. What was I thinking? I should have grabbed a bottle of Milk of Magnesia or a container of Metamusil to complete the picture. Maybe some Depends?
I still chuckle over the image that must have presented and at the comments about "this guy at the PX" I’m sure were shared among buddies as the beer was quickly consumed.
There’s a knickname in the military, and in our unit in particular as we’ve got lots of older officers and enlisted guys, that described me perfectly at that moment. I was a “FOG.” Pardon my language, but it stands for “f’in old guy.” Or as my 14-year old son Luke likes to call me, a “POM” – pathetic old man. Regardless of whether I was a FOG or a POM, I presented a pretty sad picture that night.
The cookies were good though.