Tribute to PTSD Service Dogs

Chesty Puller, one of the first PTSD service dogs.

Chesty Puller, one of the first PTSD service dogs.

 

Jack is an idea man.  Big thinking.  Lots of vision.  Follow through and fitting together the ten thousand pieces necessary to go from mental image to successful event?  He’s not so good at the detail work.  So a month or so ago, when he told me he planned to put together a Tribute to PTSD Service Dogs on November 10th, the Marine Corp Birthday, I had some trepidation. 

Okay, I sort of shook all over.

But, one of the ways I survive marriage to the big guy is by doing my very best, trying my hardest, forcing myself not to take responsibility for his actions or decisions. 

For years, people used to greet me with, “Are you keeping Jack out of trouble?”

To which I always replied, “I’m doing my best, but not having a lot of success here recently.” 

Finally, one day, I just stared at the person asking the question and answered, “Well, no I’m not keeping Jack out of trouble.  Turns out that’s not my job.”

Who says ten years of therapy doesn’t work?

So, while I did agree to be his speaker at this Tribute to PTSD Service Dogs, I made it clear that he was in charge of everything.  This latest adventure began, as I said, about six weeks ago.  Today I could not stand it one more hour and I talked him into sitting down and putting on paper what he had so far, and what still needed doing in order for this event to happen.  It was a long list. We checked off two things as done. 

However, we marked another six must-haves in red ink with the words ‘tentative yes’.

To me a tentative yes means no.  To Jack, the same phrase means no problem.

Now, that might mean simply that I’m negative and he’s positive.  Really.  It could mean no more than that.  I tell myself this to ease the shaking and twitching when I think of two hundred veterans showing up for a barbecue of hotdog buns.  Well, to be fair, hotdog buns and tentative hotdogs and game hens and hamburgers and paper plates and soft drinks and six side-dishes.

The thing is, I’ve seen Jack at work before.  In the past he’s put together a formal evening of recognition for over 100 POW’s, a barbecue where 500 Vietnam Vets and their families were fed and entertained.  Hell, the man got me through relocation to Panama with two giant service dogs attached to our wrists. He often has no more than a vague image of what should happen right up until about two days past the last possible moment of salvation for his latest project.  Then, with some God blessed hail Mary pass, he succeeds in putting together a miracle.

The worry is that he’s not as young as he used to be.  Which, okay, none of us is.  But Jack hasn’t gotten the memo.  He still thinks he can bull his way through any challenge with Marine Corp grit, a loud bellow, and a huge grin.

I’m less sure of this tactic.

So, stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted.  Or, if you’re anywhere near Fayetteville, Arkansas, come on out to Wedington Lake on November 10th from 1-4 and see for yourself.  I hear there’s going to be a marching band.

Sometimes a Cigar is just a Cigar

chimps fighting

 

We’re having an issue at our house right now with what I call inappropriate behavior toward women and what the old Marine calls, the entire world picking on Jack when he means no harm and is such a lovable character no one could possibly take offense at his off-color remarks and too tight, too long hugs.

It’s a very old battle, prone to stalemates and standoffs.  Like every battle ever, there are lots of losers and never any winners.

But the issue popping its head up again this week does give me a reason to look at another point about living with PTSD.  Here it is.  Big, huge, shocking revelation.

Not everything in every freaking day is about war trauma. 

Jack was a misogynist before he ever pulled on those snazzy dress blues with the sexy red stripe down the outside of the leg. Though, in fairness, most all seventeen year old boys are mesmerized by boobs and the possibility, no matter how remote, of getting between some girl’s legs. Did participating in a war that blew him apart, physically and emotionally, end his emotional growth and freeze him in that seventeen year old mindset?   Does he now use offensive behavior as a blockade against emotional intimacy.  I don’t know.  It’s possible. 

But I suspect the man is simply un-trainable when it comes to women.

I tell him (here read shout, rant, rave) it is NOT acceptable to call my friends or the wives of his friends and breathe into the phone, “What are ya wearin’, you sexy thang?”

“What?” he blinks.  “Sure it is.  They know I’m kidding around.”

“No!” You’re right, I’m shouting and my face is almost certainly the same color as a baboon’s ass.  “It’s predatory behavior.  Don’t do it.  Ever.  Again.  Not.  Ever.”

“Huh.”  He shakes his head.  “Well, that may be how you feel, but most women enjoy that kind of witty banter.”

“No woman.  Ever.  In the history of the world.   Likes answering the phone, safe in her own home, to some jackass asking her what she’s wearing.  Not ever.  Everevereverever!”

“Well,” my jarhead says, “that’s your opinion.”

Or, how about this conversation. . .

“Full body hugs complete with running your hands along women’s backs and sticking your tongue in their ears is NOT appropriate.”

He glares, tries intimidation. 

“A lot of women like it.”

“NO WOMEN EVEREVEREVEREVER LIKED IT.  Except maybe on Patpong in Bangkok and even then, those women GET PAID TO LIKE IT.”

“Well,” he says, “you’re entitled to your opinion, I guess.”

Which leads to this conversation:

He scratches his beard, eyes like a puppy after a bully has aimed a boot at his ribs.

“What do you mean I can’t go to Jane’s birthday party?”

“Last week you called when I was over at her house.  I had left already but you did your stalker thing.  That whispering nonsense that so many women just adore?”

He glares and I admit it, I own it.  I’m a sarcastic shrew.  I exhale, draw a deep breath, unclench my fists and drop my shoulders.

“Well, I love you,” I say through gritted teeth, “and there are consequences for behavior. Jane is now uncomfortable around you and therefore you are not going with me to her party.”

Or

“How come I’m not allowed to stay alone in the house with your sister?”

 Or friend, daughter-in-law, niece, or any women, really, between 18 and 80.  And I’m being very conservative here with those ages.  There are exceptions on both ends of that scale. 

I shake my head. 

“Because last time she was here you made her uncomfortable, consequentially, you now have to put on your shirt and ride to the Wal-Mart with me.”

“Hey!  The second she told me to knock it off, I backed away.  And now, because you have hang-ups about affection, I’m to be punished?”

“Yep, that’s right.  Marriage is a bitch of a compromise, ain’t it?”