1. He’ll buy you shots of tequila, no questions asked, nor requests made. This is because he has a wad of money in his pocket thanks to the government wanting to “support the troops” and all. As long as he keeps going to college, we keep getting free tequila. Thanks Terrorists.
2. He makes me feel less bad over not “serving” my country. I never used to feel bad about this till my Grandpa’s funeral and some guy got up to talk about the “Greatest Generation” and all that jazz. Then I felt like I hadn’t given my country anything. But now my roommate is a veteran, so I let everyone know that in soft tones, “My roommate’s seen some shit, so just give him some space, y’all…” I wear his service with pride. My roommate is like a human-sized American flag lapel pin.
3. He says things like, “Shit, that was a Class Bravo fire” when I leave my toast in the toaster for too long, and then laughs to himself for a long time while I just stare at him and munch on crispy Wonder Bread + butter.
4. He lacks any ability to think for himself. This is great because usually around 10 p.m. when I decide to go out for the night and I don’t want to show up “alone” to the Yacht Club, he is usually either preoccupied with shoving his face into the couch fast asleep, or he’s tapping buttons on the video game controller. This means I always have a wingman.
5. Also, he can always drive—no matter how many beers he’s had. Once after proudly polishing off a third PBR, he revealed that in the Navy he made it a habit to drink approximately 20 beers. Nightly.
6. He enables all my civilian friends (meaning all) to bash military policies (i.e. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Guantanamo Boy, etc…) and feel confident that we have the backing of empirical evidence in these debates by his slight shrugs and grins between drinks of PBR.
7. He keeps a copy of George W. Bush’s Decision Points on his nightstand. Don’t know why, I just find this stirring.
8. He never “talks” about the stuff he’s seen. This could be because he a) was in the Navy and never really left dry land, or b) what he saw was so powerfully traumatic that he’s as a result developed a “carpe diem” attitude about life that allows us to really enjoy the moment.
9. I get to join the select group of men and women in this country who bitch about the VA.
10. He’s always in “post-military service” jubilation, so even on a sad Tuesday night at the bar, he’ll put his hands around you, grin big, say something like, “So glad to be free, ya know,” and you’ll feel like you’re in a Tom Hanks movie or whatever.
– Dunstan McGill
Photo courtesy jim.greenhill