A humorous and unapologetically honest look into the Army from the female perspective.
Even on my last day, as I waited to sign the form releasing me from the military constraints I put on as a wide-eyed, snot-nosed college graduate, I was asked the question that plagued my entire seven years of service as a Military Police Officer: “So, was it hard being a woman in the military?”
The noise sounded like air slowly being released from a balloon– or at least that’s what Elle thought.
When she heard the sound, her whole body was bathing in the warmth of his radiant heat; her arms coiled around his barrel chest, fingers entwined in a thicket of chest hair, breasts flattening with every perfectly in sync inhale. She was in a complete state of ecstasy; high on his virile pheromones and the scent of his musky cologne.
It’d been two weeks and three days since Jess heard nothing but radio silence from her flame, Chris James: the same silence that haunted their meals together the last few weeks of their relationship.
But Jess didn’t know it was over, really over until now.
After neurotically analyzing every inch of his profile while twisting in the agony of her unrequited love, Jess finally got her answer. Not from a phone call or a response to her regrettably meek texts asking when she would see him again, but from an updated status confirming Jess’ worst fear.
And now Jess wasn’t preoccupied with his updates anymore- she was consumed with hers.
Strolling into Bright Bank, her hair only slightly
less wet than when she left the apartment, Jess passed a line of customers
waiting in the open lobby and headed towards the teller stations at the back of
“Well look at you, five minutes early and
fifteen minutes before you usually arrive,” Sam, a gangly senior teller, said
in a deadpan voice. He was counting out bills into a neat pile on his counter
and looked past the customer in front of him to follow Jess with his eyes.
“Whatever, you’re not my boss,” Jess retorted, looking around the room to see if Tony, her actual boss, heard the snarky comment.
Tony was in fact within earshot, sitting behind his desk across the room, but he was distracted by something else.
Busy jamming his sausage index finger onto his phone’s dial pad, Tony fumbled with the buttons, clearly becoming more and more frustrated, vexed, and annoyed. This was Tony’s first week on the job as the bank’s new manager and he seemed to be having a rough go of it. Only a couple of years older than Jess and a recent college grad with no actual managerial experience to speak of, Tony appeared to be overwhelmed by, well, everything- talking to the staff, talking to customers, and now, apparently, trying to figure out how to work his voicemail.
The pressure Tony was under was clearly evident
by the sweat that bled through the pin-striped suits he stuffed himself into. And
by his debilitating stutter. Sam swore that Tony only had a minor speech impediment
during his job interview – which Sam was allowed to sit in on as the most
senior staff member – and speculated that it was a condition amplified by
Jess, though, didn’t think of Tony’s stutter as a “condition”. She thought of it more as a superpower that could be wielded against the enemy: irate customers with unreasonable expectations. Thus far, Tony was an undefeated champion in the complaint department. Despite only being on the job for a week, Jess already watched Tony deal with two angry customers. During both confrontations, the tension caused Tony’s stutter to reach an unbearable peak, but he refused to let that stop him from fully addressing the customers’ concerns. During his painfully slow and clunky responses, the customers’ eyes glazed over and confusion set in over how to appropriately handle the interaction. Ultimately, in both scenarios, the customer gave up in defeat- anything to stop Tony from talking again.
Jess lamented that she could not handle customers in the
same way. Tony’s stutter was a remarkable strategic advantage in the customer
“Hey, did you hear that they want us to
sweep the parking lot now when we leave? That’s absurd, I’m not doing that,”
Jess said in a hushed voice, leaning towards Sam.
“Why not?” Sam inquired, still looking at Jess but maintaining his mental count. Pushing back his thick, black-framed glasses to the top of his nose, Sam turned back to his customer and continued piling more twenty-dollar bills onto the stack in front of him.
“Because it’s not in my job description. It’s not what I was hired to do. I’m sure our overlords at Bright Bank can manage to pay cleaners to do that sort of thing.”
Jess turned on her computer screen and
began to count the money in her cash drawer, inputting each bill amount into
the primitive DOS operating system.
“I’m not above sweeping,” Sam responded simply.
The response caught Jess off guard and
made her pause her counting. She knew there was a life lesson in his response,
but she couldn’t quite work out the meaning, so she let the idea float away.
Crazy Cat Running Club was the name of the local running group; a group that Jess already tried to join when she and Lexi first moved to the city six months ago. But the club wasn’t a good fit for Jess. And visa versa.
After doing some research on the internet, Lexi peer-pressured Jess to check out the popular local running group she found online. Reluctantly, Jess arrived at the meeting point Lexi gave her only to find an entirely too enthusiastic crowd of spandex-wearing men and women in skorts.
Standing off to the side, Jess stretched while skeptically watching the crowd. Bandanas. Water packs. Coffee-gel shots. These people were strapped. Ready to run the Bataan Death March based on their supplies, let alone run a flat three miles around downtown.
As soon as the coordinator for the run, who was standing on top of an empty crate, blew his air horn, the buzzing mob began to move.
Jess quickly hopped into the middle of the crowd, pressed in side by side with the other runners like a mouth full of bad teeth.
It was baffling how many people tried to
start a conversation with Jess despite the headphones in her ears. Even more
baffling was how everyone looked like
they were running, but were actually moving at a walking pace. No long strides.
No heavy breathing. Jess was pressed into a crowd that didn’t seem to be going
anywhere, just bouncing up and down like they were an audience at a rock
This was not how Jess enjoyed working out.
At the end of the run route, spouses and
children perched along the sides of the road cheered the runners on as they were
funneled under a large white banner inscribed with the inspirational message: Off the couch and onto the street, we run
for fun, but also for treats! Jess didn’t like that either. She furiously
pressed the volume button on her phone to turn up her music, hoping to drown
out the applause, but the volume was already at full blast.
About to peel off from the group and head
home to avoid praise from strangers for a mediocre achievement, something just beyond
the corny banner caught Jess’ eye. As she moved closer, food stacked up on
folding tables came into view. It was the most glorious breakfast spread that Jess
had ever seen- nothing but mounds of donuts and beer.
These people were alright.
Jess made her way to an empty table that
had been scavenged through already, but at least she wouldn’t have to fight off
waiting family members who hovered over the more desirable items like a swarm
of gnats. Under a stray napkin, Jess found a hidden gem. One unmolested powdery
donut. The sugar called to Jess as she reached her hand towards it, only to see
a second hand suddenly drift towards her prize.
“Would you like to join our table?”
Jess locked eyes with a perky, middle-aged
woman who had cropped blonde hair and a hint of crazy in her eyes. Not crazy,
crazy, but relentlessly cheerful type of crazy. Through her peripherals, Jess
saw that written on the front of the woman’s pink tank top, in big bold letters,
was the word “PRETTY”. Jess resisted the urge to roll her eyes while still
making direct eye contact with the stranger. The question dangled in the air
between them. Jess, however, was too distracted by the woman’s hand continuing
to move ever so slightly below her own.
Without breaking eye contact, Jess
thrusted her hand down past the woman’s and snagged the donut for herself. The
woman’s wide smile was drawn into a pinched expression.
While scurrying back to her car, holding
the donut to her chest, Jess glanced back to see the words “DARN SLOW” written
on the back of the woman’s shirt. Jess let out an audible laugh as she opened
the dented driver’s side door of the Buick LeSabre she inherited from her
grandparents, realizing that she misjudged the woman.
The woman wasn’t pretentious, she was idiosyncratic.
And who am I to judge the offbeat? The quirky? The delightfully weird? Jess thought as she looked over at the built-in phone protruding from the center console of her car. A relic Jess affectionately referred to as her “conversation piece.”
“Are you still going to the party this
weekend?” Lexi asked.
“That I wouldn’t miss,” Jess replied,
tossing her lipstick in her purse and heading out the door.
Rolling down the sleeves of her white collared shirt, Jess paused to admire the fresh shine of a scribbled black heart covered in splashes of plum, lilac, and baby blue watercolors on her left forearm- her latest and favorite tattoo.
Jess almost jumped out of her skin when she bumped into Lexi in the kitchen; despite being the one that looked like a crazy person. Ruddy cheeks. Sweat-infused hair. She looked like a homeless cat lady on Adderall.
HIS MARRIAGE ONLY LASTED THIRTEEN WEEKS. Ninety-one days of pure marital bliss that came to a crashing end when he found himself wailing like an infant on the icy tiles of his bathroom floor; crying out for his lost love, the way she once cried out for him.
Thirteen weeks in and his genteel, lovely wife suddenly had the decorum of a drunken homeless person. While on her knees, she yelled out through the open door for Derek to take off her earrings. It seemed an odd request, but he made for the bathroom anyway to tend to his petite wife who guzzled enough rum earlier to take down a linebacker during their outing with friends.
Step 1: When your drunk wife asks you to take off her earrings (which you have never done before), simply ask her how to take them off.
Step 2: When she starts crying because in her drunken haze she’s forgotten how to take off her earrings – it’s time to investigate the mysterious world of earrings. Just take a look at how the earrings are clasped together and reverse engineer how to take them off (like every house maintenance project that’s gone so well).
Step 3: Hold back wife’s hair while she “gets in a screaming match with the toilet”.
Lieutenant Smarmy was full of glaring contradicts.
But his impish and righteous nature somehow symbiotically worked together.
So, it wasn’t surprising when my fellow officer deceptively gave me a klonopin pill to calm my nerves before a jump. A pill which I gobbled up with many thanks after believing he had given me some knock-off brand Dramamine for my inevitable motion sickness.