June 4, 2011.
Dateline: B-Hut J-8, Camp Phoenix
From: George Shreves, (CUB Man)
Subject: An Officer and a Gentleman (and a little soft porn)
In other parts of the world, people live in one type of building (houses) and work in another type of building, (offices). Not here at Camp Phoenix. Here, there are row after row of what is known as B-huts. They all measure 38 x 18. In the ones you live in there are 8 separate apartments (isn’t that a quaint term). In the ones you work in, there are no interior walls, just desks all over. Probably at one time there was a rhyme and/or reason to the arrangement of desks and office errata, but the way people move in and out, they finally just said “fuck it”, and people pushed their desk to wherever they could reach a LAN line.
Having a LAN line is super important. Without a LAN line, you have no contact with anyone, anywhere. In fact, losing your LAN connection, which is your lifeline to the outside world, is about the worst thing that can happen. If it happens because of power problems or equipment failure, it is a terrible inconvenience. If it happens because you break the “access rules” it can mean a trip home for civilians, and drummed out of the service for military.
Anyway, the office here in J-8 is similar in some respects to offices back home. For instance, every office has its “funny guy” and our guy’s name is Jeff. He is ex-military, a contractor and from Texas. He’s a black guy, looks like Damon Wayans, shaves his head and is super funny. Everybody likes him, and he is a real nice guy. He gets away with pushing envelopes that no one else dare pusheth. He’s that guy. He especially likes to “welcome” new additions to the office.
Recently, we had a new addition, Major Cuthbert or Major “C” as he calls himself. He sits between Jeff and me in good old J-8. Major Cuthbert is a big old boy from Alabama (picture Ronnie Carber supersized). The thing about Major Cuthbert is: he loves his wife. Really loves her. As in, he carries matted, framed 8 x 10 pictures of her that he will show you ad nauseum. Apparently, Major Cuthbert was 38 when he married, his first, her second. He met his wife when he was stationed in Hawaii (on the Big Island as he says). She is from Hawaii and is half Filipino. The pictures are kinda weird. Instead of just face pictures with vague backgrounds from Sears, these are posed, artistic works. One shows her walking along a beach in a filmy wrap, wearing a Mona Lisa type smile. Another has her cavorting in the shallows with tanned, happy children. A third is in a lounging position, a “come hither” look on her face. In black and white. Like I say, weird.
Last week was her birthday. Major C made a big deal over that, having everyone guess her age by looking at the pictures (we all guessed low, after all the guy is a brute). He ordered some dresses from Victoria’s secret to be shipped to her. He showed me, using the on-line demo tool, how theses dresses could be worn in several different ways: off the shoulder, as a wrap, etc. He patiently explained to me that it was like getting 3 or 4 dresses for the price of one. I know, even weirder.
After about an hour of oohing and aahing over pictures of Mrs. Cuthbert and comparing fabrics and styles in the on-line Victoria’s Secret catalog, I told him I had to take a leak and made a hasty exit. Walking towards the smoking hut, I ran across the “computer guy”, K-ball (his name is Kevin Ball, but everyone calls him K-ball, which reminds me of a story of these two customers of mine named Sgt Stubbedick and Sgt Biggerstaff, but that’s another story for another time.) Anyway, Kevin informs me that my computer and Major Cuthbert’s aren’t accepting updates from the Help Desk, so he is going to come by and replace them later on. Then, when they are fixed he will swap them back out.
Well, Jeff was in the vicinity when Kevin told me this and upon returning to J8, he called Major Cuthbert over to the side and had a little conversation with him.
Jeff: Major C, could be a little problem.
Major C: What’s that Jeff?
Jeff: None of my business man, but you been goin’ out lookin’ at porn?
Major C: No !
Jeff: Are you sure, cause I heard from my boy on the Helpdesk that they had to take your computer cause there was all kinds of unauthorized stuff on there, like porn. You sure you ain’t been lookin’ at porn?
Major C: I swear man, I don’t even know how
Jeff: A’ight man, I’m just giving you a heads up
Jeff is the master at letting things perk. You could see Major Cuthbert’s unease growing by the minute. He looked at his Internet Explorer history. He went on-line and looked at Army policy for computer use. Finally, he sat upright in alarm and wheeled his chair over to Jeff’s desk. “Jeff, it just occurred to me, I bought my wife some dresses off Victoria’s Secret. You don’t think that’s it, do you?”
Jeff’s eyes widened dramatically. “Hell yes! Didn’t you get the ‘prohibited site’ message?” “Oh God no, the Major croaked, “I went in through AOL” “AOL!” Jeff hissed, “This is bad”.
“What will happen now”, Cuthbert asked, ashen-faced. A fresh wave of terror washed over his face “Oh God, this couldn’t be worse, I’m coming up for my Lt Col boards in July!”, he squeaked.
Jeff’s brow furrowed as he pondered the situation. Suddenly he assumed a serene countenance, and laid a soothing hand on Cuthbert’s shoulder. “Don’t get all fatalistic now. Make no mistake, this is bad. But I know some people on the helpdesk, and I might be able to pull a few strings and make this go away”
A glimmer of hope suddenly shone in the Major’s haunted, hunted eyes. “Really? If you could, I will owe you big time. Thanks Jeff”.
“Don’t thank me yet, Jeff admonished, I said I might be able to help” “Let me make a few calls and I’ll let you know”.
Like I said, Jeff is the master. For the next hour, he sat quietly at his desk, working on policy letters, sipping iced tea, whistling happily under his breath. The Major on the other hand, fidgeted, chewed his nails and generally drove himself mad with worry. On the one hand, it was obvious he wanted Jeff to make those calls NOW, but on the other hand, he didn’t want to irritate Jeff in any way that might cause him to renege on his offer of help.
Finally, almost as an afterthought, Jeff picked up the phone and soon was exchanging pleasantries with a friend. About 10 minutes into the conversation, he lowered his voice to an nearly inaudible ‘sotto voce’ level and after a few minutes of that, hung up the phone. Turning to Cuthbert, he blew out his cheeks dramatically. “Well, good news and bad news”. “He said that normally he could take care of this, no problem, but right now they have an inspection team in and he doesn’t want to take the chance”.
Poor Major C; his face fell like a ruined soufflé. I could almost hear his inner voice: “Well, that’s it, 20 years in the service right down the tubes. I’m done. Stupid, stupid, stupid.”
Then, again, Jeff to the rescue: “The brother owes me 50 dollars, so I told him inspection team or not, take care of it, this is for one of my boys”
Oh, the rapture! Saved! Cuthbert wrapped his bear-like arms around Jeff. “Thanks man!” Jeff wriggled out of his grasp: “Don’t be grabbin’ me and touchin’ me up in here, what’s wrong with you!” “Sorry Jeff, I got carried away; I was just so…Worried”.
“It’s all right; just don’t be grabbin’ me and shit”
Well about an hour later, K-ball came back with the computers, hooked them up and we were on our way. Next morning, Jeff says to Cuthbert, “Hey man, where were those dresses you were looking at yesterday, I’m thinking of buying some for my wife”. Cuthbert stared, unbelieving. There on Jeff’s monitor was the Victoria’s Secret on-line catalog.
“Jeff, he hissed between clenched teeth, what are you DOING? Don’t you remember? Ixnay on the Victoria’s Ecret Say?”
“Naw man, I was mistaken about that. I checked with my pardner, the Secret’s cool, it’s all good”
“But you… you said, wait, I, uh…” Suddenly his head snapped around and surveyed the room.
Every one of us was busily working away, no one was going to rise to the bait and make eye contact. We could feel his stare like a laser, shooting from beneath his craggy brow. Finally, reluctantly, he sat back down, his ham-like hands clenching and unclenching in mighty fists.
Jeff seemed utterly engrossed in his on-line shopping. “Say Cuthbert, you right, this is like getting three dresses for the price of one” “I think I’ll have my wife send me a picture of herself in this, maybe an 8 x 10”.
Cuthbert's face went from red to purple to a sort of off-black, his fists clenched rhythmically, when finally Jeff relented. He sprang from his chair, hugged Cuthbert around the shoulders and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I’m just messin’ with you man”
At that, the room broke into general laughter, and the mighty Cuthbert proved to be a good sport too. In fact, as he finally managed to extricate himself from Jeff’s hug, he did get in the parting shot:
“It’s all right; just don’t be grabbin’ me and shit”