To the Americans

To the surprised lady in the grocery-store parking lot this afternoon. When someone brings their hand up quickly in the manner that you did, I assumed (incorrectly) that you were saluting. Every now and then I get salutes from civvies. Mostly from kids, who I always salute back. That said, I gave you a nice, crisp one. How was I supposed to know you were shielding the sun from your eyes? I am either well-trained or stupidly robotic. Or both.

To the also-surprised lady, trailing twenty feet behind the first surprised lady. No, the Navy is not desperately recruiting insane people. I was chortling and giggling to myself because, ah well, just read the above story like everyone else. . .

To the two prior linguists, now Navy Lieutenants (one of whom I briefed this morning and the other whom I ran into after my brief): pretty neat they let linguists do what we do, eh? To the first, a Somali linguist, how do you like me calling you out and asking how you were in the middle of my brief to twenty-five folks? And incorporating your experience to answer a question? And we’ve not spoken in nine years! And to the second, sorry I thought you were a Chinese linguist. You were my next-door neighbor in the barracks, you would think I would remember you were an Arabic linguist. Marahaban, ya ach!

To my gym buddy, the retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major whom I chatted with early this morning. It is sad we face suicide in military. And you are right, it is not an epidemic. That story you told me about seeing a guy hanging by his bedsheets out the window, in 1950, really saddened me. As did the story of the Army private who shot his rifle cleaning-rod through the back of his throat.

To the owner of that Argentinian restaurant, I did not know that Pope Francis had a connection to the Peróns. I do, however, feel terrible about singing that song in your place of business. It was a natural response once you said Perón. (For context: please read the first story about me saluting. I am like a trained dog. You say Perón, I try not to cry.) Thanks for the comped garlic fries. I’ll never hum that tune in your restaurant again. (Prometo solemnemente no volver a cantar. La verdad es que nunca te dejé A lo largo de mis días salvajes. . .)