Yes, it's already been established that Air Force Guy is a Geardo. I think he might be the King of the Geardos, in fact. Or at least the heir apparent. In any case, the man has never met a piece of gear or equipment he didn't feel that he absolutely MUST HAVE NOW.
So I'm sure you can imagine the near accidents that ensued when, at a stop light near a local shopping center, AFG noticed two banners near the road that blared "5.11 TACTICAL GEAR NOW HERE".
With judicious use of the horn, some pantomimed begging and gesturing, and the luck of fifteen leprechauns, AFG managed to skate across three lanes of rush hour traffic and into the shopping center in question.
It was unclear by the sign whether there was an actual 5.11 store in the shopping center or if 5.11 gear was now being sold at an existing store, so we drove a bit in a circuit until we saw a store with two mannequins in front dressed in various tactical items and the signature 5.11 pants.
AFG jumped out of our minivan (I know, an unlikely car for a guy shopping for tactical gear to be driving) and grabbed our son in a fit of excitement. The man was practically dancing in his eagerness to get into that store.
"Go ahead," I told him. "I'll wait here and finish this sock I'm knitting."
I can't quite explain the amount of pure testosterone that was emanating from the store in question. All I know is that even had I wanted to accompany AFG in to browse the various gear I would have been repelled at the door by a combination of treated clothing, gun oil, sweat, and exaggerated battle stories ("There I was, and this ain't no lie!"). Obviously a "Boy's Only" zone there, even the Grand Opening balloons were black, OD green, and gun metal grey!
AFG wasn't gone long, but he came back filled with glee.
"They're going to have a 5.11 day!" he told me. "With prizes! And they'll have representatives there! And all the gear will be unloaded by then! I wonder what kind of prizes they'll be handing out. I hope they're giving out the new pants!"
"That's nice, Dear. When is 5.11 Day?"
"The sixteenth! I'm going to get off work early!"
"Um, Dear? You'll be leaving to visit your mother on the 15th and you won't be back until the 19th. In California. I really don't think you'll be able to make it back for 5.11 Day."
You know those movie scenes where something bad happens and the filming switches to slow motion with the main character yelling that long draw out, "Noooooooooooo!" in a bass voice? That was the scene outside our van. The man's mouth dropped and he stood near the car in utter dejection for a full five minutes. No 5.11 Day for him. No talking to reps about the latest and coolest gear to take with him on his upcoming deployment. No demonstrations of new equipment, no new pair of the new design tactical pants. This really was AFG's version of the coolest theme park in the world, and he wasn't going to be able to go. It was the end of the world.
Immediately the plotting started.
"Can we change the reservations?"
"No Dear, I don't think Hotwire will consider 5.11 Day a true emergency requiring flight changes."
"They should. Maybe I just won't go."
"We already paid for the tickets! You are going!"
"Can you go to 5.11 Day for me?"
"I'll be out of town as well - remember?"
AFG spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how to somehow make 5.11 Day, and in the end was unable to come up with a good plan. He's been moping around the house (when he has been home from training) ever since.
He even apparently decided to try a bit of retail therapy. Yesterday the UPS man arrived carrying a box from Ranger Joe's. Apparently the UPS guy was a bit of a Geardo himself, because he asked what was in the box and looked on eagerly when I said I didn't know and I'd have to check.
It was a new Camelbak - this one:
The UPS guy was beside himself in glee, and gave me a rundown of all the good points in this particular Camelbak. I figured someone so excited about a backpack with a built in drinking fountain would probably be in the know, so I asked him:
"Do you think a Camelbak like this makes up for missing a 5.11 Day with representatives there, prizes, and new item displays?"
The UPS guy looked matter of fact. "No. 5.11 Day is awesome. Did you know that there's going to be one next week?"
Poor Air Force Guy.