Consciously I understood the risk of proposing to Annetta. Some of the guys in my platoon thought it was a bad idea. Military humor is unique. Men who live with the fact they may deploy anywhere in the world at a moments notice, for an undetermined amount of time, and not return tend to live guarded from emotional ties. It’s too difficult of a reality to include someone else. We have our brothers. Their lives depend on knowing the man next to him is alert. “Stay alert, stay alive”. Divorce rates are higher in the military than in the civilian population. Divorces are a direct reflection of the mind set of soldiers.
Some jokes were funnier to me than others. The best one, to me, was , ” I’m sure her NEW boyfriend is gonna appreciate that $800 ring. That’s alot of muthafucking beer on your dime. Shit, if she don’t suck your dick when you get there then he better.” I still like that one.
I stood in line at the payphone trying to imagine how i would react if the roles were reversed. I wouldn’t want a serious relationship in Germany. To me it would be unfair to ask me that at 20 years old. I’m adjusting to a new life in a new country. Let me live and be happy. Somehow what I was going to do seemed completely selfish. I thought about getting out of line for the phone. On the other hand, however, I wasn’t demanding anything. I had feelings for a woman and wanted to show her what she meant to me. The risk was mine, all mine. All she had to do was to accept my offer or refuse it.
I made the phone call.
I stumbled around for words. I was making small talk, which in this scenario, calling barracks to barracks, didn’t make much sense. She caught on and stopped me. Giggling, she asked “what’s going on? I know you didn’t call me just to tell me how much you like Twinkies”. She was good.
I swallowed my fear and took a shot in the dark. I asked her if i came to see her over a weekend in a few months, would she let me sleep on the floor. I was smooth.
She started to laugh uncontrollably. She replied, ” I’d love for you to come stay with me. You wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor unless you wanted to.”
I was relieved. My brilliant plan was coming together just fine. I mumbled something about letting her know the exact date in a week or two after I turn in my Leave Request form. The phone call ended with the usual, “I love you” and “I love you too”. I felt like I was floating. The next few months of training and sacrifice seemed like small potatoes. I was going to fly to Europe and propose to the woman I was in love with. This was like a living in a musical. I half expected the barracks to errupt into choreographed song and dance praising young love and romance when I was snapped back to reality.
Sgt. Walker, Sgt. G and Cpl Joe had assembled a 20 man mass casualty scenario on the parade field behind the barracks. 20 infantrymen were covered in red dye and screaming in unison. All I could hear was ” Doc! Doc we have men down!”.
As I grabbed my Aid Bag, and started to run to the field I could hear C.J. screaming at some fake wounded grunt who apparently smelled like beer, “shut da fuck up ya fucking hero”. Out of the chaos I heard him yell back to me, ” Ay! Did the little hussy say ya can come see her?” With a smile on my face I yelled back to the wind, “She did!”
We spent the next three hours taking care of the drunk fake wounded, answering Rapid fire questions and calling for a fake evacuation.