Sunday, December 6, 2009

Navy and Sweaters

Life in the Navy can be difficult, but for a junior supply officer, it can also be slightly princely, albeit subject to the laws of primogeniture. We had our own staterooms with two 24-hour movie channels, housekeeping service, three meals a day in the wardroom, pageantry, good pay. And when I "deployed" to Bahrain for two weeks, I stayed in a five-star hotel making embarrassing per diem.

This is important because much of the general public considers all service personnel to be always enduring the hardest of hardships. At least enough of the general public that we would get underway with donated pallets of girl scout cookies (so many that we considered tossing them overboard after a few weeks) and we'd receive care packages from moms' groups once we were in theater.

Certainly many service men and women have it rough. I met many of them during my time in, just never when looking in the mirror or across the wardroom table.

I told you all that, so I could tell you how I came to love scarves. Prior to my first deployment, I'd never worn anything wintry other than jackets, gloves and hats. Never a cap or a scarf or sweater or mitten. But when it well below freezing and you pull in to a foreign port without anything but a jacket, it's time to borrow a sweater. And how I loved the look and feel of sweaters. They're so versatile and comfortable and handsome. I've kept a stack in my closet ever since.

As for scarves, I found my first at the bottom of one of the aforementioned anonymous mom care packages. Also in the care package was playing cards, chewing gum, patriotic country music CDs, a child-written note thanking me for my service, and (hand-to-god) wool socks. How could we ever tell these moms that we had on board a ship's store with DVD players, the latest music and movie titles, and every conceivable kind of candy. That and we had been stuffing our racks and staterooms with purchases from port visits all around the Mediterranean.

So, I found the scarf and loved it. In fact, I'm wearing a scarf as I type this. And I have only the Navy to thank for my new love affair with sweaters and scarves...and my aversion to thin mints.