I'm Sorry, You Didn't Think That Was Funny?


Oh.  My.  God. I think I am pushing the Geritol Stage of life.  I am not old enough to be this old.  I'm really not.    When did this happen?  And why has my husband been laughing at me all day?  As if turning twenty-thirteen isn't bad enough, he has to find it funny?   It's NOT funny!  And that bag of Depends isn't funny either!  I don't CARE if you grabbed it at the commissary case lot sale!   Nor is the denture cream!

And as for the Prep H ointment...  Well, some things are just better left unsaid.  Especially when your husband is trying to provoke a mid-life crisis.  And he does it on purpose, quite gleefully dancing on the fact that I am 360 days older than he is.

Military humor has its own niche, that's for sure. 

One of the things that takes some getting used to for people upon entering the military life (or upon meeting someone in the vast military family)  is the sense of humor.  It can definitely be crude, and gallows humor is the order of the day.   It all goes along with that tried and true saying, "You have to find something to laugh about, because if you don't you'll be crying."

Perhaps some people might not find Iraqi bedbugs funny.  Especially when you discover them in the rugs that were picked up at a bargain price from a roadside souk.  Some people most especially might not find them funny when your father, who is a very honest and by-the-book kind of guy, demands that samples of the bugs be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency to make sure that the newly introduced bugs won't damage the ecosystem of the Central Valley of California.

Okay, it didn't seem funny at first.  But now we love to tell this story during dinner.  With great gusto, hubby gesticulates and makes sound effects.  He pantomimes finding the line of bugs crawling from his open suitcase and the look on the faces of the Wal Mart employees when we got in line to buy fifteen cans of lice furniture spray (a quick call to a local "bug dude" had given us the heads up that lice medication would work best in our situation).  He holds his fingers about two inches apart and says, "The things were THIS BIG!"  Hubby relates my horror to my father's demands of EPA notification, and my mind visuals of being quarantined behind a huge tent and subjected to head shaving and multiple vaccines for any conceivable insect born illness.

Then there is the incident that happened to one of hubby's compatriots during a raid in Iraq.  Nothing says storming a compound quite like falling in a sewer while jumping over a fence.   He was the highlight of the action and the story has made its way into the folklore of hubby's AFSC (AFSC is someone's job).  In fact, he's quite proud of it.  You've got to be able to laugh, you see.

The common thread in a lot of military humor is self-deprecation.  When everything you do is serious and people's lives depend on you,  the only way to let off steam is often to make fun of yourself.   Another friend of mine was relating the story of his Air Assault qualification.  He was quite up front in admitting that he was completely gung ho and ready to jump... until he looked out the helicopter at the ground below.  Upon seeing the view, he managed a quick pivot and retreated to a safe distance.  At the urging of his instructor (and I'm sure we can all imagine the urging it was!) he attempted the jump again, but once more only managed a pivot.  The third try was, as it is always a charm.  Of course, it was a charm helped along by the size 13 boot of his instructor connecting with my friend's hind-quarters; but whatever the charm the jump was finally completed!

Are you horrified, or are you shrieking in laughter as you imagine this huge gruff, tough guy in BDU's getting kicked out of a helicopter and screaming like a little girl (his own descripton) in shock as his feet lose contact with a stable surface?  Because I've got to tell you, that picture in my mind still has the ability to bring forth snot bubbles and tears of laughter from me.

You can't go to a military gathering of any type, be it barbecue or formal, without rounds of these stories being told.  The common element is some sort of humiliation, usually self inflicted, and there is quite often impolite reference to bodily functions that would cause the hardest of stomachs to blanche when confronted with dinner during such a telling.  Military people just keep eating, though.  It's our own private comedic ritual and coping mechanism, you see. 

And I love it.  I feel right at home and have a good feel for when to deliver my signature one-liners and stories of humiliation.  It worries me, too.  I wonder how I will ever function as a civilian, when such behavior is not as acceptable in most of the civilian world.  I mean, I can't imagine discussing, in Technicolor detail, the sewage someone fell into at one of my Dad's Chamber of Commerce meetings.

I guess I'll just have to tackle that bridge when I get there.  Hopefully not for a long while yet. 

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