Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Little lifetime changes

So I was shaving in the shower this morning, as I almost always do; and it hit me: the military has changed me (and almost everyone else who's been through it), in many small, but permanent ways.

I started thinking about it more, and then decided to make a little list of the top ten that come to mind (just the little things though. The big ones are a bit more fundamental).

1. Showers: I can't remember the last time I took a bath for reasons other than physical ailment (i.e. I needed hot water to unkink myself). I take showers, as hot as I possibly can stand it, at the highest pressure possible. I shampoo up the second I get in the shower and start scrubbing immediately. I almost always shave, and brush my teeth in the shower, and then I rinse off. The only time I shave outside the shower is when I get too stubbly of an evening and I shave again, but in the sink. I can't stand going out in public with an uneven shave.

I used to do it in 3 minutes like clockwork, but I've relaxed enough that I take 5 or 6 these days. Anything more than that and I feel waterlogged; again unless I'm in there for theraputic reasons.

2. Change and keys: I can't STAND jingling, or pockets with anything visible in them, unless it's clipped to the edge. My pocket knife and flashlight are clipped to opposite pockets; sometimes a pen is clipped next to the flashlight, my keys are clipped on my belt and tucked into the top of the pocket, my lighter is in my watch pocket, and a coin (not change) is in my left pocket.

Nothing else goes in my front pockets unless it's a gun. My right hip has my wallet unless I'm wearing a jacket in which case its ALWAYS in the jacket. My left hip pocket carries mighty mouse in a wallet holster, again unless I'm wearing a jacket in whcih case it's in the jacket.

Keys must be tightly wrapped (either in pocket or with a rubber band) to prevent jingling, and change does NOT go into my pockets for any longer then it takes to dump it in my car, on my desk, or in my bedroom.

A man does not bulge when he sits, or jingle when he walks.

3. Shorts: The only time I ever wear shorts is when I'm working out, at the beach, or doing heavy physical work in hot weather.

4. Sneakers and Shoes: The only time I ever wear sneaks is when I'm excercising. I always wear dress or dress casual shoes. If those shoes can be polished they are ALWAYS polished.

Oh and sandals are for the the beach, the shower, or the locker room, NEVER in public. The most perfect female physical specimen in the world could walk right past me, and if she was wearing flipflops I'd say she looked like shit.

5. Shirts: I blouse my shirts, check my gig line, and peg roll my sleeves; pretty much automatically. I keep a zippo on me just to burn off loose threads. I always button everything but the top button on a button down shirt, unless I'm wearing a tie. I hate having my forearms covered unless its a formal occaison and I pegroll EVERYTHING when it's not. All my t-shirts are sleeved crew necks and the second the neck or sleeve pulls out of shape they become working on the car shirts.

6. Answering the phone: I used to answer the phone with my location or number, and my name (Program analysis office, Lt. Byrne Speaking); now I've relaxed enough that I just answer it with my full name. Yes, people think it's weird.

Personally when someone just says "Hello" when answering the phone I think it's weird.

7. Clean Plate: Take what you want, but eat what you take. It takes a serious mental effort NOT to eat everything in front of me, even if Im stuffed or don't want to eat. Its so ingrained it's not funny. Also, it is almost a reflex to eat whatever you can, whenever you can grab it, as fast as possible; since you neve rknow when the next chance might be.

Note: This is great when you're burning 5000+ calories a day (as I was at one point), but not so great for a typical semi-sedentary american male.

8. Huah: (spelled variously depending on the inflection used) I broke myself of that one for a long time; then I started hanging with military buddies again and it came back. It's the all purpose exclamation, longer, shorter, drawled, or shouted depending on the situation.

Also included are GTG/RTG, move with a purpose, the p's, Charlie Fox, lessons learned, briefs and AARs, and other random expressions. Sometimes my wife looks at me funny, and I don't know why, until I think "Oh yeah, I just said that in GI-Jargon"

9. Hair: I start saying "I need a haircut" about a week after my last one. When it gets longer then 1/2" I really start bitching; 3/4" and I obsess until I get a new cut. If I could get away with it I'd wear a "Not Quite" (as in "not quite a high and tight") all the time.

10. Sir or Ma'am: All people, no matter what age, are Sir or Ma'am unless they tell me otherwise. Some people get offended by it, or think I'm making fun of them. My brother in law called me "Eddie Haskell" the first time he met me.

There are lots of others, but those were the first ten little things that came to mind. Actually, I had some of them before the Air Force (like shaving in the shower), but lets say they were ... strongly reinforce, by the experience.