Not Gary Trudeau

            By the title of this piece you are no doubt expecting some type of outrageous adventure featuring an encounter with the celebrated author of Doonesbury and his wry look at the political landscape. You are wrong, this has nothing to do with him, and if you ended up here searching for said person as did hundreds of idiots to my ‘Academia Waltz‘ post looking for Berkley Breathed, you obviously have a taste for self indulgent drivel and should linger to read this and the rest of my excellent posts.

      No, this post is about Celeste Trudeau, who already found this blog and commented, thus forcing me to a tad more genteel than normal if I want to avoid once again issuing sincere groveling apologies. The vast majority of my time in the Air Force somehow got spent playing big brother and paling around with a younger female airman who really liked me, but just not that way. Celeste fell in between Carrie Pierce and Tiffany and our time of hanging out together was limited to the brief period after I moved into Cordoba and had the place to myself before shipping off to Saudi.

      She came into the shop like all female airmen do; an object of much speculation and interest from the males and immediately threatening to most of the few females who had grown used to the status quo and feared a reduction in the scarcity of their kind. Plus she was the only blonde and thereby rare and threatening. She ended up in my area, TISS, on dayshift and I managed through some well executed cockblocking to be the one to show her around as none of the women were raising their hands. She also didn’t have a car so like a slavish drooling fool I volunteered to schlep her around anywhere she wanted to go; a condition she enjoyed many times a day.

      Please understand that at the time I was still under the impression that women could be won over through over the top kindness, accommodation, generosity and infinite patience. Ha! The perils of being a nice guy in the prime of youth, cluelessly pummeled with passive rejection until the aggressive beast finally comes forth and puts down the decisive foot she was secretly seeking all along. There will be none of this in this tale as I was not done finishing last quite yet. I attribute my marriage, among other things, to the fact that when she originally suggested we start as friends I made it clear that we would certainly not, having had enough of that sort of thing. Perhaps Dan will one day learn the lesson to be less tender and don the shackles of marital bond as well.

      In any event, she became a near constant companion for a few months, generally engaging in animal related activities. Please still your filthy thoughts; I feel I have disclosed my negative progress in that area clearly enough! No, we instead spent time searching out various zoos and nature type museums and parks. I had never been that big a fan of the zoo but my need to accommodate the modest request of a comely young woman to stare at unmoving caged beasts potentially even less enthralled than I to be there.

      One of the things I had begun to notice was that I was universally volunteering to pay for these excursions and usually the meal or meals that inevitably came along with them. In the words of Bill the Butcher, “You pay to enjoy the presence of my company”; how apropos. Having run into nearly the same situation with Carrie but a year prior I initially determined this would not be a repeat, at least until we started dating, were that ever to occur. She countered this deftly; her feminine sensibilities no doubt tingling at the prospect of an uncomfortable money discussion. She had a mother, you see, on grave disability that no where near covered her expenses and thus she sent nearly the whole of her paycheck home each 1st and 15th that the sainted woman might eke out an existence. Faced with such a touching example of familial sacrifice I stifled all impulse to slide the check over to her side of the table with a triumphant look. I do believe the claim was true, if only to feel less a patsy.

      I started looking for more free activities to engage in to ease the strain on my wallet and found a little nature preserve in Poquoson to hike around in that didn’t charge admission. From there we began an earnest and concentrated effort to attempt to steal turtles. We noted the little turtles swimming about by the shore down a steep embankment and she became obsessed with having one. Although I knew it would be foolish or worse to face court martial for smuggling a salmonella ridden reptile in my pants, she was so enamored with the idea that I knew winning her over might just be so simple as poaching the little varmints. My failure then was maddening as despite two trips back to the site with various bits of equipment and containers I never even came close to netting one of the buggers.

      Like every woman I met in the Air Force, and despite keeping trim, she sure liked to eat and I was encouraged to develop my cooking a bit further. Knaus used to always say, “The fastest way to person’s heart is though their chest”, a bit I think he nipped from Mad Magazine. I was a traditionalist, never quite mastering Knausian philosophy, and focused on the stomach to bend others to my will.

      Prior to the AF my cooking experience was limited to the sardines sautéed in soy sauce and parmesan cheese I tormented the Comstock residents with, as well as a seafood potluck dish I brought to some function of Megan O’Boyle’s that ended up making a lot of people sick. I vehemently denied it was my tasty concoction of well aged shrimp cooked rare and cast suspicion on the potato salad, but in truth, my guilt was obvious. Months prior to meeting Celeste I got into a jam and needed help from some of the shop guys to help fix my car. As a bribe I promised good food; no take out, as what passes for pizza, wings, and subs in Virginia was ghastly. Somehow, I became inspired and concocted spicy hot chili, pulled pork in the Crockpot, and what was to become my signature dish for years after, my special Greek pizza. The success of it all inspired me and I became the uncontested master chef of our group for the duration.

      Celeste somehow managed to throw my mojo off but good with that as I’m fairly certain that everything I made for her in this timeframe was complete crap; a crushing circumstance as I was relying on my culinary prowess to shake her apples just a bit. I invited her for dinner one night, Bryan safely in Saudi, and offered to cook anything she liked. She settled on fried chicken and garlic mashed potatoes. Both I claimed significant expertise in preparing and was confident I would meet expectations. The chicken I burned to a crisp somehow, but still the better dish. The garlic mashed were atrocious as I apparently selected the most pungent bitter head and mixed in quantities far too vast. She spit out the first bite, though I was adamant in refusing to admit error and consumed a whole plate. I’m sure my breath thereafter was pleasant wafting the stench of the corrupted potatoes about the room.

      I attempted to impress her with food once again as we had mutually decided to get on a health kick, work out each day, and bring fresh salads topped with grilled chicken to work for lunches. I volunteered to prepare the chicken. She had some hesitation but no kitchen, so reluctantly agreed. I bought a family pack of chicken tenders and was determined to come up with 5 unique and succulent marinade recipes: Italian dressing, garlic and oil, Asian (using sesame oil and soy sauce), spicy, and lemon basil. I don’t know what happened. The Italian came out OK but the rest were a nightmare of bad taste. The garlic was once again pungent enough to ward away vampires as far as London. The Asian were stygian strips of mystery meat not even fit for the Navy (a friend of mine in the Navy told me about loading supplies on to the ship and noting that the packages of meat were labeled ‘Fit only for animal and military consumption’). The spicy were too hot and vinegary and the lemon basil just plain weird.

      I had split up the results between us and she returned her half with regrets soon after and I could not blame her in the least. Any ideas of becoming charming in this manner had long set sail and it was well another year before she would consent to eat something I had a hand in. The bad fingers were consigned to my freezer where they lurked waiting for a hungry drunk until the place was finally vacated. No one was every quite that hungry or quite that drunk to enjoy the Virginia equivalent to Mrs Mooney’s pickles.

      The peak of summer hit and with it came the annual mandatory fun day, otherwise known as Wing Sports Day. The purpose of said event was that each shop would field individuals or teams to compete in a sort of Langley Olympics. Since the prospect of playing tug of war against the missile goons and other such silly contests lacked universal appeal, the Wing King (the cleverly rhyming name for the base commander) brought in Budweiser trucks that dispensed 50 cent drafts. The lines were always long with those of us wisely imbibing in 100 degree heat in between athletic contests.

      I would like to make the observation that the Air Force, and probably the military in general, is the alcoholic’s wet dream. I can’t think of an event, no matter how small or insignificant that didn’t have free or very cheep beer or booze provided. On top of that, every single base has a fully stocked liquor store called the Class 6 that is open from the early morning hours to late at night, and is generally situated somewhere remote enough on the base that everyone has to drive there, especially from the dorms. Yet even more telling is that aside from all the name brands of hard liquor, they also stock ‘Military Special’ brands of all the spirits that are significantly cheaper. Why spend $30 on a liter of Dewar’s when you can get two liters of Military Special Scotch for $7.99, tax free? None of us were brave enough to try that swill, preferring to stick to safe old beer. As a side note they carried good old Genesee Cream Ale as a premium beer; the same cheap suds we got at the Unity Mart for $5 a twelve pack fetched $8 a six.

      Celeste and I paled around at the sports day doing our best to avoid getting pulled into any athletic contests. It was pointed out to us by people of rank that participation in something, anything, athletic was mandatory given the theme of the day. Celeste and I, as well as a few other lazy folks brainstormed for a bit and decided to go bowling. Although not on the official roster of events, bowling was a sport, wasn’t it? It certainly looked so on ‘Kingpin’, so were it discovered that was what we decided to do; no one could fault us for non-participation, right? We headed over to the base bowling ally, nicely air conditioned, rented some shoes, got a couple pitchers and bowled a few games to while the time away.

      We wandered back to the sports day events afterward and came to conclusion that things were going to start wrapping up soon. Most importantly, our assistant shop chief and fearless leader, SMSgt Wood, was no where to be found. She was a force to be reckoned with; the epitome of senior noncommissioned officer leadership, tough as nails, yet wise and fair; we were lucky to have her. Crossing her was not recommended. Assuming she left for the day, Celeste convinced me to take her back to the dorms. I was hoping to hang out with her longer, but she claimed heat exhaustion.

      A half hour after I got back to my apartment, I got a phone call from Celeste. Sgt Wood had busted her at the dorms and “forced” her to give up me, Tiffany and Harley as well. I wasn’t very pleased about this at all and reported into work. We got quite a dressing down, me most of all as Wood apparently viewed me as the most respectable of the bunch, and sentenced us to the rest of the day working in the shop rather than seek more formal military discipline for our desertion. The three of us were quite unhappy with Celeste for breaking the code of junior enlisted non-disclosure. We had endured over a year of Charlie Ford’s horrid rhino attacks in stoic uncomfortable silence only to have our own minor misdeeds revealed by a newbie songbird. I began to question my pursuit just a bit.

      I questioned it a hell of a lot more a few days later. Tiffany, still probably irritated over being busted, revealed to me that the reason Celeste was so eager to get back to the dorms was because she had plans with another fellow she had been seeing. While she and I were definitely not dating and therefore she was technically doing nothing wrong, her complete lack of mention of this shadowy douche bag drove me toward a hasty conclusion that the deliberate omission may have been a calculated move. I was providing transportation; frequent meals (now from restaurants) and I dare say quality companionship. I was understandably feeling less than charitable at the notion that some punk with a full head of hair was doing all of the receiving as I continued to give. I immediately made myself much less available offering no explanation; though I think Tiffany, now becoming a much closer friend, told her off on my behalf.

      I went to Saudi (the next story to follow) and when I returned found she had an official boyfriend to supply all of her needs and was happy with the outcome, as my interests had moved on as well. We remained cordial friends thereafter and she even moved to the midshift team I lead for a time. That in itself was an interesting experience, especially when one of the others, a skinny high strung punk named Black declared she would never have as small an ass as he, forcing me to both beat him down and discuss with her the better qualities of her caboose in as professional a manner as one can in such situations.

      History has a strange way of repeating itself. Around the time I was leaving I found that Jeff Lawinger, arguably the nicest guy anyone has ever met and somewhat resembling Jerry O’Connell, had taken my old role as her cabana boy. I was sorely tempted to step in to warn him, “You are too nice Jeff! This approach never, ever works!”, but decided to mind my business. To my astonishment, I later received word that the two had married; a fact that I cheered to the heavens that a genuine nice guy finished first. Hm, I guess it was me.

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6 Responses

  1. Ah, the “Substitute Boyfriend”. My wife had a few of these over time, including one she found particularly unattractive but enjoyable as company. It all eventually ended in cursing. Naturally I also served this role (aka “sucker”) at one point – who hasn’t?

  2. I can’t help but wonder if after spending a day with suckers women go home and think, “Why? Every time I meet a nice boy with great personality he never turns out to be gay.”

  3. You have failed to keep the “What is Comstock?” Page updated with recent stories. I have added them but no doubt OUT OF ORDER. Your assignment is to put them into proper chronology!

  4. Very well, this can be easily accomplished especially since I have made it a point to keep them in order.

  5. Okay, I have to say that this whole article has left my laughing so hard, I was in tears. Especially the turtles part.
    But in my defense, it was SUGGS who ratted everyone out to Missy on sports day, not me. Suggs found me at the dorms and was only too happy to inform me that he had ratted me (and you and tiff and harley) out and that Missy would be waiting for us at the shop. Semantics, I know, but I thought I’d add my two cents.
    Besides that, it was very funny, all be it slightly slanted. 🙂

  6. Crap! You are right; it was Suggs that day. I hereby absolve thee and apologize twice over for mistaking you for that galoot.

    Glad you got a kick out of this and took it in the spirit in which it was intended – everyone gets a good tweaking here.

    Hope all is well!

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