Tuesday, January 25, 2005

If they knew half the real truth, what would they say?


Fire at will...

I remember my first cup of coffee like a lot of junkies remember their first fix. My entire life had been spent reinforcing the idea that coffee was a bitter, yellower-of-the-teeth that I could certainly live without. That was long before I joined the Air Force and found myself sleepwalking a fenceline one night. Let me get one thing straight to all of you non-military types out there...falling asleep on the job means a possible/probable mere firing from any civilian job. Being found asleep in the military is a little more complicated than that. It means that you had better pray that you haven't gained any weight since your last dress-blues fitting, because you're going to be standing in front of the man directly. Enough of my cop predecessors had fallen prey to the sleep demon that I didn't exactly invite his visit. Anyhow...

The night I drank my first cup of coffee, President Clinton's plane was supposed to touch down on our base, and we were all a little further left from thrilled. After all, he was the one who told us that the military might not be paid because the budget couldn't be balanced. It was cold and dark, we were sleep-deprived, and he was unbeloved. We were walking fencelines from midnight to noon, and so my shift overlapped Clinton's 4 am visit. Don't get me wrong...as little as I thought of Clinton at that particular time, I understood how dire my alertness was. Whether we got paid or not, he was the President of the United States, after all. I was almost panic-stricken when I found my eyes fluttering around three AM. Headlights neared my post, and I don't remember the name or the face of the angel in camouflage who approached me--nostalgia only allows me to recall the glint of his metal thermos. My heart leapt--hot chocolate? "No, dear," Fate said. "Black coffee." I scowled my way through that first tin cup, but I felt certain it tasted better than an Article 15 would.

At 4:20 am, when Clinton's plane lifted off (all of this for twenty minutes of his time?), I was wide awake and harboring a burgeoning, new addiction. From that moment hence, I have not been able to pry my eyes open without at least the promise of a future coffee. I make the bed, my husband makes the coffee...that's the deal. Every morning allows me, if I wish, to close my eyes and remember that time in my life, that sweet visitation into the boys club of my youth, where I was the sister/mother figure, while still an equal, and a cup of coffee was simply taken for granted as necessary to our mutual survival.

1 Things not left unsaid:

carp said...

Hmmm.....so your another one who kept his dumbass alive! Nice pics and music quotes, not a military person, my brother was a Marine though, nice gun!