You’d probably expect me to go on and on about how much we miss him, how family gatherings feel really weird without him around, and how scary it is to have a loved one serving in a war zone. Of course, all those things are true. But you won’t hear the sob story here. For one, even thinking about those things for more than 30 seconds at a time makes me an emotional mess. And for two, my family, most especially Bryan’s wife (my awesome sister-in-law Veronica), reads this blog and there’s really no need to set her off either. She knows it sucks. She lives it every day, and she doesn’t really need me to reiterate it on her computer screen.
So instead, I’ll tell you about the very best thing to come out of this deployment. (Well, after the comfort of knowing that my brother is leading a group of strong, capable, amazing men and women in defending our country, of course.) The unintentional benefit of having a guy like Bryan serving in a place like Iraq is the absolute hilarity he is extracting out of the experience.
You’re probably thinking that “Iraq” and “funny” don’t often turn up in the same conversation, and you’re absolutely right. But we are talking about a guy who can write several dozen paragraphs on a misunderstanding over a lime green Ford Festiva and leave you falling off your chair laughing, so it’s not really a stretch that he finds humor in his new environment.
You be the judge:Arriving in the desert: “Finally got to Kuwait. A nice 80 degrees or so. This country isn't nearly as much of a shite hole as Haiti while still being much, much worse than Panama or Cuba.”
Meeting the locals: “Learned something about culture today: Kuwaiti guys LOVE their hair gel and jewelry.”
The Army diet: “Up too early. Time for a Kuwaiti cocktail; 800mg of Motrin and a 5 hour energy…”
The sheer awesomeness of the American forces: “My 38 heartbreakers and life-takers met with 38 other soldiers of equal high-speededness in a tent today. The Hooah that was generated from the meeting actually caused an insurgent in Pakistan to spontaneously fall over dead. That's a weird but true fact.”
Spending the holidays away from home: "I love Army traditions. Thanksgiving dinner was served to me by a Brigadier General. He asked where I was from and I told him: "Don't pretend like you care, just give me my freakin' yams." Actually, I don't think those were the EXACT words I used. Does it sound weird that the dinner tasted better because a general put it on my plate?"
Saving graces: "Rolled into a base in Iraq and what did I see? Three guys in in uniform with weapons slung across their backs FISHIN'! Two lakes that I am assured have some kind of Iraqi fish swimmin' in them. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!!"
And those are just the Facebook status updates. What’s truly awesome are the captions that go with his pictures:
Picture taken from our bus. If you strain your eyes and look waaaaaaaay out on the horizon you can see that there is absolutely nothing interesting there, either.
The structure way out in the haze, past the trash receptacle is Zigarot (sp?). It is believed to be the oldest structure on the planet and the birthplace of Abraham. I believe this picture best exemplifies Iraq. An ancient structure in the past and a giant dumpster full of crap in the present.
Me looking like the consummate professional soldier just moments before I turned around and totally peed all over that tire.
This is my neighborhood. It’s a pretty nice place but I still lock my doors.
The first text on my new phone. It either says: "The first 20 minutes of cell phone use on your new Watania phone are free," or "Go home Yankee pig." I can't really tell which.
Self picture of me in the back of the Caiman. I ride in the back (for now). We have a deal: They call me "Sergeant" and I don't lick the windows.
These are camel spider homes. They burrow into the ground and the dirt they displace gets mounded up. They are over six feet high. Camel spiders get to be bigger than a car tire and take small Iraqi children away in the night. Bedouins hunt them for their fur and make armor from their webs. (He really had me going for awhile with this one.)
Red Dragon 3-7. Three seconds after this picture was taken I exhaled and killed a KBR yard worker with the top button from my fly.
This is our good friend, Tripod Muhammad-McLovin. He is a three legged donkey (actually he has four legs but one is as useless as an Iraqi Pontoon boat). When Tripod is no longer at the border to see us off, I will come home. (What makes this even more awesome is that Tripod has his own Facebook page. Our brother Mark was hesitant to “friend” him because he was afraid of getting turned down by a donkey.)
Speaking of Mark, he definitely holds up his end of the humor canoe: “I had a huge box ready to send out, but then Veronica said that you could not have porn. Be looking for my postcard!”
As much as a smartass as Bryan can be, his observations are sometimes pretty poignant, and he has a healthy perspective as he gets used to his new surroundings.
Happy Thanksgiving! I know I am thankful for a great wife, awesome kids and a strong, happy family. I am also thankful for the family I have here with me.
We threw a kid a Gatorade yesterday and he looked happier than my kids looked when they opened their PS3 on Christmas morning. This holiday season as we sit in our living rooms please take a moment to truly appreciate what we as Americans have. I know as I am opening my Christmas boxes, some part of me will be thinking of a little Iraqi kid standing in two inches of dust and how happy he was just to get a Gatorade.
And then the smartassedness kicks back in…