Saturday, May 21, 2011

In the Navy Part Two: Money & Power


The Rationales: Part Two

Another factor affecting my decision, and quite possibly the most potent one, ended up also becoming the reason I have any photos to include with these posts of my time in the Navy. Miles’s sister Myra, a soccer playing thunder thigh lady I met through the financial aide office in the student center / union during my Freshman year. I would love to say this was due to my botched grades during my first semester, the low grades that put me on the wrong sort of Dean’s list, specifically the Dean of Admission’s probation list. While this event did have me sitting across the desk from Myra several times after the grades were posted, I met her earlier than that, at her ancillary gig, staffing the supply counter around the corner from Financial Aide, selling supplies and snapping student ID pictures. After a hearty breakfast of an omelet piled atop a pair of pancakes and drenched in syrup, calorie counting be damned, give me the side of sausage, twice, and into the cafĂ©’s sprawl of booths where the jukebox had real 45s inside, and the one for Gun’s ‘N Roses had the b-side live version of “It’s Easy” with the loud “Fuck!” in the middle I would queue up to play three or four times in a row to add suitable ambiance for my lard laden leg-loader. 

Gut filled to splitting with the arctic fishing boat deck hand calorie count I would need to get through a day of academic underachievement, I’d head off down the hall lumbering like a barley bloated beer-hound bound for brilliance towards the supply and resources counter where a bubbly brunette babe would great me with a smile, curious questions, and updates before I bound off for class I’d already gone late for.

Bubbly is a tricky word. Instantly you think this is some young woman raised by Vonnegut aliens in some astrological bubble adrift on the Alan Moore colored cosmic tides between stints aboard interstellar aircraft serving mixed cocktails to multi-world weary capitalists that buy and sell capitols. Like an Orwellian modifier to the first alliterative descriptor, Brunette tones things down, practically a double (plus-good) negative. And then we get babe, a admittedly sexist assessment that is both apt and ironic, because she looked great for her age, however, had I known her actual age, I would have known how seriously effing great she’d looked for her age.

I’d been off and on necking with a solid state professional kayaker named Hillary that lived in the women’s dorm across the atrium from Holmes Hall when I ran into Myra outside academic environments, though not far outside, the McDonalds squat across the street from the backside of Holmes. I had been about to order a Happy Meal for the toy inside when I heard my name and turned to see two women inbound wearing soccer gear and striding that certain ground shaker way only full through footie ladies can. Myra made up one of the women, her dental school student high hipped friend the other. Soon after I had somehow managed to volunteer to help the pair coach kids soccer and needed to go buy some cleats, ASAP. 

My roommate, a guy named Doug that everyone called Boner, had watched the interaction with rapidly dropping jaw. He demand to know how I had just made inroads with the woman from financial aide. And I honestly didn’t know, I still don’t. Seriously. I couldn’t stand 18 year olds by the time I was 19, so how in the good green earth had I managed to get time of day from a real, honest to goodness, grown up woman with a job and future and everything? And she plays soccer!

Actually that aspect hadn’t impressed Boner, however he didn’t know or care that I used to slip down to watch the women’s soccer team practice on occasion. Not lewdly, or with an overcoat on, just healthy curiosity. The south is so full of pancake makeup demi-queen belle types, to see a bunch of your female peers getting muddy and sweaty and downright brutal on the pitch did my heart good, because my Mom had been a tomboy when I was a kid and by god anyone I would want to have a picture of in my locker should be too. Maybe not a tomboy; maybe better phrased as independent and willing to define their own path rather than deliberately wilt themselves into some caricature role their surroundings sought to impose upon them.

I can point at a pretty strong trend of taste on this front, actually. Every meaningful relationship I’ve had has been with strong, independent people that I have been fortunate to count as friends, even when sometimes attempts as romantic relationships didn’t work out so well.

During sophomore year, as I spent more and more time in architecture school, I also managed to slowly build a relationship with Myra that skirted romantic, though I’m pretty sure that I had far more investment in the romantic side than she did. By the latter half of sophomore year, and second semester of architecture school, we were making out some, and my mind had filled with crazy dreams that would need reliable funding, and that could only happen if I finished architecture school and made it big, and that would only happen if I could afford to continue in a program that favors the elite because they can afford all the snappy studio supplies while also not having to have a job outside school to subsidize anything. 

I don’t know if Myra suggested enlisting first or not, but I suspect she did after hearing me bemoan my lack of funds, as her father was a vet, did a long stint in the Navy before becoming a union construction contractor building stadium seating and the like.

I can’t say I joined the Navy to impress a woman, though I’m sure I’ve claimed that in the past. And I do think for all the time I obsessed over her while I was stationed in San Diego, I probably did hope my joining would have her waiting at an alter for my safe return. I, of course, was an idiot. All those times during A school where I would tune the TVs in the lounge rooms to Nick Up All Night to That Girl because Marla Thomas looked like a doppelganger for my Myra back home, the Myra that wasn’t actually mine, we’d fooled around but never actually affirmed any real sort of commitment, she saw me off and went on with her life, met a grad student, and got her real life romance going on, the sort that involves someone with prospects, and someone her own age.

Meanwhile, since she’d been my financial aid officer, I sent her my paychecks, keeping back as little as I could, to ensure funds for school would be waiting for me when I returned in the winter time. I returned to a house with no heat or phone I’d apparently paid the rental deposit on, with two old friends as new roommates that would move in once I had heat and hot water. I returned to what I perceived as an ex-girlfriend with a dawning realization she’d never been an actual girlfriend in the first place and about damn time I admit it. 

She had a brand new used truck and I had little money left upon my arrival so I suspected a surcharge may have been enacted for her services. Truthfully, though, I should have managed my own funds. I bragged to disinterested bystanders once in a while about paying some biker or day worker guy to sugar the tank of her brown pick up truck, but I never actually did anything to the thing except stare at it occasionally as it sat basking in the orange glow of the halogen street lights in the staff parking lot across the street from the student center, wondering how I had made so much out of so little and ended up in the military over it.

Thing is, regardless of the reasons or how misguided some of them might have been, joining the military remains one of the most beneficial things for my character I’ve ever done, and I sometimes wonder if I would’ve been better off doing a full enlisted term instead of the goofy SAM program I signed into.

More about my jaunt in U. S. of America’s Naval forces tomorrow.

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