By lex, on February 26th, 2006
You know about the retirement on Friday, so: All caught up there. What I haven’t shared (because I’ve been, you know: Saving it) is the story of the other things that went on.
First a little trip backwards in time. On Wednesday I was desired and required to be up in the Front Office, for to speak with the actual Chief of Staff on a Matter of Some Import. While waiting to see himself (Himself not being in town at the moment) a female chief petty officer approached me hesitantly:
“You’re a pilot sir?”
“Why yes. Yes I am, actually,” I replied. Thinking that, you know: The wings on my khakis were a dead give-away, for anyone as had eyes to see.
“A jet pilot sir?”
“Yes. I flew FA-18′s,” I replied, absurdly gratified but wondering where this was going.
“What are you doing on Saturday evening, sir? Have you got any plans?”
“Eh,” non-plussed. What can this mean? At all?
“There’s a party sir, down at the Aerospace Museum, and I wondered if you might want to go?”
“Erm!” said I, almost forcefully.
“Oh,” she said, laughing (ha-ha!), “I meant with your wife, sir.”
Well. Turned out there was this thing down in the park. A dinner at the Aerospace museum, with all of the finer set turned out in their very best shore-going rigs. Summat to do with a rich guy who flew to Quito, Ecuador on a “goodwill trip” (Lex translation: Boondoggle) way back in 1931. Turns out his son reprised the trip in 1961. And now his grandson wants to do it again in 2006 to, you know: Cement relationships, or something. In a company-provided Pilatus PC-12. Which is a lovely airplane, that your humble scribe wouldn’t mind getting his mitts on, for all that it doesn’t have afterburners, won’t loop and can’t blow anything up but itself.
Which when you think about it, is rather sad. But still.
Jay Leno was there, accompanied by his chin. The two of them left your humble scribe and his fair lady fit fair to burst at the seams with laughter, us being nobbut a few steps from the stage and himself owning a well-deserved reputation for making the funny.
And all the other Very Rich Folks from Sandy Eggo were there as well, with a few of us from the sea services there to provide color, as it were. In our mess dress blues and whatever the Marines Call that rig of theirs that latches at the throat and opens at the waist, not unlike what I have seen of Mexican gang wear up in Los Angeles, but never mind. Speaking of uniform woes, I found to my shock and awe on Saturday morning (those festivities being the least of my concern) that the mess dress blue jacket I had a-waiting in the closet was one full gold stripe short of my current rank, egads. And the Big Boss himself would be there, so no fair pretending to be a commander.
Fortunately I had a comrade of equal rank and approximate size just over the hill, and borrowed his jacket. So that worked out. Except that I also discovered that while both of us are what is politely called “stocky,” he is also a smidgen shorter than myself, which means that I ended up looking discreditably like one of those monkeys from the Wizard of Oz, at least in my own regard, selah. Short and stocky does not equal tall and stocky, as it turns out.
Nothing for it though, head down and keep churning.
Svelte, we felt, when we sat us down to dine. Plutocrats and oligarchs on every side, and ourselves but decoration – but not alone in that: Across the table from us were three men of a certain age – shall we say mid-60′s and be kind? Accompanied by their wives, and in once case a fiancee, all of whom were at least 30 years younger than their squires and contrasted to their gents in fitness and in beauty as the day is differentiated from the night. And everywhere around us men sat with women half their age and thrice (at least) their beauty, with every here and there an island of two who had been together for the long haul, bless ‘em at every step. I suppose the sight of these pairings was supposed to engender a kind of envy, but in me at least it had the opposite effect. Let it go, says I, and acknowlege the eternal truth: Ain’t love grand?
Later, having made our apologies, the Hobbit and I made our way back up to the north country, and decided to stop in at a lovely little place in the town of Del Mar for to sink a nightcap. I had two occasions to explain that, no, as far as I knew, there was no cruise ship in town, and yes, that this was in fact a uniform belonging to the officer corps of the interlocutor’s Navy, charmed. So very many young and comfortable people, so blithely unaware of what’s going on in the world. The world itself being so very far away from Del Mar.
And today of course is but three day’s shy of the Biscuit’s birthday, so I took the opportunity to take her and her best friend on a shopping trip down to Pacific Beach, a place she favors, as, truth be told, I once did too a couple of decades back. The thing to do today is shop at clothing “exchanges,” places where people turn in their clothes for not much money, and buy new (old) clothes for not much more. You can leave a store with armfuls and not have spent very much, which suits the both of us very well. Eventually though we made our way from the places where people come to posture for dramatic effect, with tatoos and piercings on several display, to the Goodwill store, where some people come to shop. And to tell you the truth, the whole thing made me feel just a little low.
See: We were shopping there as a choice. We were slumming, sort of. And there were many, many folks shopping there because that was what they could do, to shop at Goodwill.
Between dinner at the museum, and shopping at the Goodwill store, there’s something I can’t quite get my head wrapped around.
It was a strange weekend, that way.