Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.

A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Old Enough to Fight

Inspired by a prompt from Write on Edge, I was to write a memoir piece in which one of the following features prominently: Wine, Coffee, or Chocolate.
"Conjure a moment."

The following moment came to mind...

I couldn’t stop thinking about the thick, succulent steak and lobster I would devour that night.  I would order the steak cooked my favorite way- medium rare- knowing I would not have to worry about contamination.

It was the first time I had dressed like a girl in months.  My short legs were finally long again, as they appended sparkly heels.  My hair was full, curled and fell down past my shoulders.  I even took the time to paint my nails fire-engine red. I was completely out of regulation. 

I couldn’t stop staring at my handsome date, and my love.  Tonight we were going to be ‘real people’.  I smiled and squeezed his arm close to me as we walked inside the restaurant.

We sat across from each other at a table that overlooked the water, holding hands.  The waves glistened in the moonlight and crashed upon the shoreline.  No expense was spared as we celebrated at our favorite restaurant.

I glanced around and was met with stagnant expressions from my fellow diners.  I wanted to shake them and say, “How are you not smiling?  Don’t you realize we are all here and that all of us have it so good?!”  Instead, I just fashioned them the biggest grin I could.  Surely, they thought I was daft.

The waitress read the specials of the night in English.  Her New England accent was music to my ears.  She asked to start with our drink order.

“I would love a glass of your house Red and a side of water, please,” I requested, thinking how wonderful the wine would taste with my steak.

“Can I see some ID?”

Without thinking, I handed her my military ID- the same 2-inch rectangle that dictated whether or not I was allowed to pass through the safety and familiarity of armed American gates in the middle of a foreign country.  It was the rectangle that held my entire identity and fate for the past 6 months.

“I’m sorry Hun, but you’re not of age.  I’ll bring you that water though.”  She placed the card on the table, and headed back to the kitchen.

It took me a second to register what just happened.

“Welcome back to the states, Babe.”

Embarrassed, I sat back in my seat. Maybe I was going crazy.  In my head I felt seventy- I had worry lines around my eyes and dark circles to prove it- despite their mere twenty years.  It had been so long now that I was away. I had simply forgotten that I was not old enough to drink a glass of wine with dinner in my own country- though I was old enough to fight for it.


  1. Wonderful story. I love the way you wrote it.

  2. one final sacrafice for your country... like water for wine..

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you- I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Oh, wow. What a powerful and excellent post. Great job with the narrative leading up to the reveal. The measured tone of your prose really underlies your maturity... perfect reveal at the end.

    Great point!

    1. Thank you! You know, I was really trying to get that just right!

  5. I love this story but it's crazy that you could do all you did for your country and not relax on a perfect night with your guy. The way you told it actually surprised me. Had no idea it was going that way...part of why I really liked it!

    1. I think it's just one of those interesting parts of our society that many don't think about all too often. We were overseas and were able to drink anytime. Then you come home and you're considered too young- yet we're flying airplanes and driving tanks, and submarines, etc... You're forced to face life and death situations every day- but you aren't considered responsible enough to handle a beer.

  6. I agree with everybody else, the ending is a kicker.

  7. Oh, goodness, what a realization. It does say something when someone is old enough to defend the country but not order a glass of wine. I'm not sure about what should be done about it though. Were you offended, or was it just something you had to accept? So, even if you're not old enough to have a glass of wine in public, your countrymen are still here to salute you for what you do.

  8. Oh, not offended- I simply had forgotten. I had been living in another country for so long- I forgot that simple regulation of ours. Now it has been a long time since that occurred. I suppose the drinking age in America is implemented for a reason- I know they tried to lower it back in the 70's and didn't work out. However, it seems everywhere else it alcohol is so much more a part of the culture- and therefore treated much more responsibly.

  9. Love it! Great writing!

    I love the last line... Not old enough to drink, but old enough to fight = very powerful!

    I hope you still enjoyed your meal and time with your man... Plenty of years of wine drinking ahead...

    1. Yes! Thank you- we did! And I have long since made up for that glass... or two! :)

  10. Replies
    1. Ugh- just one of those things I guess!