13 January 2010

Separate Rations, Sex and Quarters

Sicily Drop Zone

South of the Border

The Indian chief could have been a problem. Worse case scenario - I disappear. Best case - I get my ass kicked by some high school kids. I avoided both. 11 years later on Ft Bragg I came close very close to making a mistake that could have lasted a life time. At the time it seemed nothing more than a quick and easy solution.

We were waiting to load a C130 for a night jump in August. I was sitting on the tarmac reading 'Fear of Flying' by Erica Jong. I had already read the book but liked the image it presented... A paratrooper reading a paper back about fear of flying. Maybe someone from the Army Times would take a picture. No one who walked by me knew what the book was about but plenty of comments were made. None very original. Except one.

She was about six feet tall with blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. She was a private first class, a generator mechanic and I was told she spoke fluent French. She looked at my book and said, "How 'bout a zipless, Tintin?" I was stunned but managed to get out before she had walked too far, "I was thinking of something a little more physical, private!" She turned and smiled and duck walked away in a too tight parachute harness (MC1-1 Bravo) and a too big helmet cocked at a silly angle.

Have you read Fear of Flying where Erica Jong longs for the zipless fuck? A spiritual form of love making sans any removal of clothes or the more literal translation, the unzipping of zippers...his or hers. If you haven't read it you should.

We jumped Sicily drop zone that night and just like swimming in the Boy Scouts you couldn't walk off the D.Z. without a buddy. As I stuffed my parachute in an aviator kit bag I saw this tall figure coming towards me. "Who do I have?" said a woman's voice. It's Tintin, " I replied. "Oh, shit," she said. By the time we got back to the duece and half trucks and turned in our parachutes we had discussed, Erica Jong, Susan Sontag's, On Photography, the Bee Gees and dinner which we were to have together that night.

She cancelled dinner last minute but we went out the next night and saw the Woody Allen movie, Annie Hall. We dated for a couple of months and decided that it made sense to get married. Not because of love but for separate rations (money), quarter's allowance (money) and living off post (sex).

We were married in SC just across the border because there wasn't a waiting period. I remember the cement floor had yellow painted foot prints where we were supposed to stand. I lingered on the foot prints and had a uneasy feeling something wasn't right but a rail thin man married us in less time than it took for him to eat breakfast while his wife witnessed the event and handled all the paper work. In and out in ten minutes.

That night in a motel at South of the Border we didn't talk except to argue. The fighting lead to driving back to Ft Bragg around 2AM and by 7AM I was in another C130 and off on a 30 day field exercise to ponder my actions. I returned 30 days later to discover she had bought a house in both our names. It had a cyclone fence around the back yard and was in a very bad neighborhood. This was not the separate rations, sex and quarter's allowance I had in mind. I heard the Indian chief and this time I panicked.

I called a realtor who happened to be my mother and asked her what could I do. She explained it all...annulmets, waiting periods, etc. A day later I was sitting in front of a woman who was a JAG captain who asked, "Did you consummate the marriage?" She was in starched fatigues and I couldn't help but stare at her Judge Advocate branch device on her collar. Never saw many of those. "Uh, I'm sorry, what does consummate mean?" I asked as intelligently as I could. I wish she'd asked me about Susan Sontag because she looked like someone I could live off post with. She threw her pencil down and looked at me, "Did you sleep with her after you were married?"

I explained that we didn't sleep with each other after we married but we had slept with each other before we were married and did that count -- and she told me it didn't and before you knew it everything was taken care of. It all went away. I saw her a year later. She had married and was getting out of the army. She emailed me last year. Two grown children. Divorced. Deals cards in a casino. I often wonder why things happen the way they do.


ELS said...

I am really enjoying this tale of your close escapes; peripatetic lives breed risk-takers and pirates and you certainly are both. I also think it breeds romanticism - think you got off lightly there!

My reading of Fear of Flying was that a zipless referred to an encounter deviod of emotional entanglement; nobody knew, no-one would ever find out; no emotions, no afterburn. Just sheer revelry in the physicality. I also seem to remember she concluded it didn't exist. However, I was about 19 then and I am not now, so who knows?

Am intrigued by your themes here, please keep writing, it's marvellous.

tintin said...

I'm still loking for a puffy shirt (North American reference to Pirate shirt in episode 66 of the Seinfeld show airing 23.9.93 in the fifth season).

You are correct. She was trying to emulate a man's ablity to have sex without any strings. Her character, although she tried, was unable to sleep with a man without some sort of emotional connection but she was always looking for that melting of the bodies. I've always remembered that.

I need to read the book again since I was 19 when I last read it.

If you keep reading - I'll keep writing.

ELS said...

I can send you an eye patch from the dressing up box? See Colin Firth Mr Darcy white shirt for effect you need.

Strikes me there's a book somewhere in our re-reading FoF after last reading it at 19. Could be interesting to see how/whether one's viewpoint/interpretation changes according to age, experience, cynicism...

I'll read whatever you write.

tintin said...

I agree about the book.

It was odd to be single after 13 years of marriage and find out what the dating scene was like with 25 year olds when I was 44. Easy doesn't describe it.

I also go the impression that most of these 25 year old women were not interested in talking. I remember a woman going into great detail how she stole from her employer, a retail chain, and seemed very proud of it. Things have changed a great deal and someone needs to record it.

ELS said...

I don't envy you. I do adore the young, but I think our generation was the last that could hold a conversation and, perhaps I was just naive, look past trappings. A chum of mine who never married reckons he can pull anyone under 30 by taking them in his porsche and showing them his incredible flat. No talking required.

How very sad. And dull.

Your filcher sums it up.

When you say 'easy doesn't describe it', do you mean they were or were not easy? Just trying to elude the inevitable cultural cock-ups. Thanks for Seinfeld ref, btw. Never seen it either.

Tin-tin's phred/dad said...

Newly divorced, at age 42 or about that, I journeyed West. (And have stayed there ever since.) But that's beside the point.
Arriving in AZ, visiting old friends, I was introduced to their 18 year old female "roomer." A nice and and attractive girl/woman. Then they suggested a local eating place and off the four of us go. Good cocktails, meal and wine.
Then me, obviously the oldest, was handed the bill. This was my indoctrination into socializing with a younger crowd.
Lesson learned.

Peter said...

It was a fabulous experience reading this post....I throughly enjoyed it.A very different story line is narrated over here.
army rations

Ben said...

My mouth is on the floor.

J D Morgan said...

Well I see I wasn't the only one that got married for separate quarters and rations. As for sex there was plenty on Hay St. As you know from my book we both got married at South of the Border, strange place.

When did women start going to jump school, didn't have any when I was there.