Writing Wrongs

November 11, 2006

Iím blogging today over at the Wet Noodle Posse blog, but Iíll post the entry here, in case you donít feel like hopping over there.

Pinecones in the sand

The first night I slept in sand in Saudi Arabia (not in a warehouse, not in the Khobar Towers), I found a pinecone in my sleeping bag. Of course, branches, pine needles, and leaves littered the sand around the tent, so a pinecone wasnít that strange. Weíd just managed to bring a little bit of Germany with us to the desert.

But the pinecone was inside my sleeping bag, not on it. Certainly I wouldíve noticed that before now, what with weeks in country, not to mention weeks of sleeping in my sleeping bag.

I almost didnít mention it, but at last I did, to Sergeant B. And Iím sure I was the picture of the naÔve, perplexed lieutenant. Every scenario for how the pinecone ended up in my sleeping bag ran through my head except the obvious. The one that was now flat in the sand, unable to hold it in, laughing. At me.

ďIíll get you for that, Sergeant B,Ē I said.

ďSure you will, maíam.Ē He looked smug. The implication? I was way too nice for anything underhanded.

But instead of tossing that pinecone into the sand, I tucked it inside my rucksack.

Iíd like to say I remember this next part precisely, but I donít. Iím not sure how I retaliated, only that I did. It could be that Sergeant B. left his shower kitbag on his cot in his rush to attend a very important game of spades. I might have been alone in the tent, writing a letter, when I noticed Iíd arrived at the intersection of pay and back.

I might have slipped the pinecone into Sergeant Bís shower kitbag. In a few days, I forgot about it. In a few days, there were other things to think about. And when everything was over, we were still rationing water. So while everyone was thinking about showers, no one was actually taking any.

When he found the pinecone at last (and really, you donít want to know how many weeks there were between showers), he was the picture of the perplexed sergeant (you could never call Sergeant B. naÔve). Then it all came to him. The LT got him back.

But honestly? I donít know if this is a true story, or simply the way I remember it. Iíd have to ask Sergeant B.

From then on out, it was a free-for-all. Our motto: when you least expect the pinecone, expect it.

I vowed that I wouldnít be the one to redeploy with it, but I ended up bringing the pinecone back to its native Germany. That Christmas, I mailed it to Sergeant B. A few months later, I got it back.

The last time I spoke to Sergeant B., it was October, 1996. My son was three-months old. Sergeant B. had just gotten engaged. He sounded so happy and excited about the future. I had the clever idea of sending the pinecone as a wedding gift.

But I hesitated. What if his fiancťe didnít think it funny? What if he didnít? When it came to sand, pinecones, and time spend in the Middle East, my judgment was blurred. I didnít send it.

I still have the pinecone, and despite a move a few years back, I know where it is. Someday, Iíd like to send it to Sergeant B.

I wonder if heíll remember.

Or, if like me, he canít forget.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 8:35 a.m.