20. July 2006 · Comments Off on More Stolen Kisses at the Skylark · Categories: Air Force, General, History, Iran, Pajama Game, Veteran's Affairs

Our TI, Sgt. Petre’s pre-liberty lecture as regards the possibly alien mores and amorous intentions of various foreign military members that we might encounter was all of a piece with other informative lectures, mostly tinged with a certain air of dark warning. The famous Dempsy-Dumpster story was featured prominently, presumably as a cautionary tale for those of use whose lusts were so uncontrollable and whose aesthetic senses were so un-fastidious as to pick exactly that venue for a tête-à-tête. The choice of venues for engaging in sexual congress were pretty slim, on Lackland AFB’s training side, where total privacy was by practice and edict impossible. For that substantial portion of the world who has not gone through USAF basic training during the last four decades, the Dempsy-Dumpster story involved a male and female trainee who chose one of those enormous metal industrial trash containers for their particular brief encounter, only to be brutally interrupted in coitus by one of those enormous trash trucks, mechanically picking up the dumpster, and dumping all contents into the back of the truck. Hilarity ensued, along with least one broken limb, a considerable amount of embarrassment and a folk-tale for the ages. It might even have really happened, sometime in the early 1970ies, but I myself would have to see the contemporary incident report to believe it.

Anyway, we were forewarned, and presumably forearmed about the dangers posed to our virtue… although I thought it was very amusing that we had the birth control lecture a couple of days before we had town liberty, by an NCO who frizbee’d a diaphragm the entire length of the classroom, by way of catching our attention. Which she certainly did for some of us; that was the first time in my life I had actually seen any such thing. It was probably lost on others, though; one of our number included the wife of an E-6 who had four children. Others women were married, or had been married, or hoped to become married, and had practiced a bit… but we didn’t have much in the way of illusion about some of the foreign troops, after what happened to four of us, one drear December day.

It was at the point in our training when we were allowed in pairs and fours to go to various places on base by ourselves, on formally sanction errands… after overcoming a certain amount of disorientation. Like: how the hell can you find your way back to a place when all you have ever seen of the way there, is the back of the neck of the girl in formation ahead of you? And what the hell do you do, when the four of you are marching along, two and two— as you have to, because your TI said so— when you are about to intersect with a full flight of fifty or so other trainees, with their TI and guidon and all the pomp and majesty of a flight of trainees marching on their way to somewhere or other? Why, of course, just has you have been told— stand at full attention, until they have marched by, and then you can go about your own business.

But this flight was a flight of Saudi tech school trainees, and I had the dubious honor of standing at rigid attention on the sidewalk, while an entire flight of them marched by, making every sort of vulgar comment, sotto voice out of the ranks; bird-whistles, crude suggestions, rude noises, low whistles… the entire armory of disgusting guy behavior, all in one fell blast, on four female Air Force trainees, who were under orders to stand there at attention, without responding, in obedience to military protocol, as we were verbally treated like whores in a particularly disreputable neighborhood. Sgt Petre looked particularly black, when we reported this to her, afterwards. We were distraught, and particularly outraged that this would happen to us, on a military base, and when we were constrained from showing any kind of reaction. It was a thoroughly nasty experience, and during twenty subsequent years in the military, nothing quite equaled it for the feeling that it gave me of slugs crawling over my bare flesh. We all agreed that if we were ever out and about again, and spotted a Saudi flight, we would turn around and go a couple of blocks out of the way. No one wanted to repeat the experience, although Airman Duncan— tall, gawky, plain and outspoken— was haunted for the rest of her base liberties by a short, squat and silent Saudi student who magically appeared in any place were Duncan was, and spent the time watching her yearningly from across the room. We couldn’t figure out how he always knew where she was. Efficient information pipeline among the male students, I suppose. I had developed my own admirer, but at least he could bring himself to make pleasant conversation.

On Christmas Day, we had liberty base liberty for all of that afternoon, but no better place to spend it than the bowling alley. The snack bar was open, and a half dozen or so of us were making the most of a couple of hours of freedom; free to drink soft drinks, to laugh with the usual constellation of male trainees. After a certain point, I noticed that one of the Iranian trainees had been drawn into the happy little group. We knew he was Iranian because his uniform was hung with a lot of ornament, and in two clashing shades of blue. Oddly enough, he reminded me of Kiet, my Vietnamese foster-brother; the same air of gentle diffidence, even shyness. He lingered on the edge of the group, not speaking very much at first, but eventually he began talking to me. His name turned out to be Nassir. He had a picture of the Shah in his wallet, and one of the Empress Farah, too. We pointed out Dunc’s admirer, watching her as per usual from across the room, and Nassir laughed and told us how the Iranian students looked down on the Saudis as uncouth and ignorant country bumpkins— hicks from the sticks, with no culture.

We met a couple of more times, after that, and spent some pleasant hours in the darker corners of the Skylark, holding hands and kissing shyly, while he paid me elaborately flowery compliments… which amused me no end. I had never met a man in real life who could unreel yards and yards of it, like Elizabethan love poetry. I never took this gallent compliments seriously, being fairly level-headed about my own attractions; knowing that my own citizenship probably featured rather highly among them. No, I took his attentions not the least bit seriously, but I liked him and wished him well. He wrote to me a couple of times, after I departed for tech school and that real world outside from those stolen hours of base liberty. I fell in love with someone else, and went on to Japan, and about four years later the whirlwind of Khomeini’s Islamic revolution swept away the Shah’s government. I’ve always hoped that Nassir was able to avoid being caught up in that, or the war with Iraq that followed; it would have been such a bad place for a gentle, courtly poet, who was so proud of being a Persian, and had a picture of the Shah in his wallet, and stole kisses from the girl I used to be, in the shadowy corners of the Skylark.

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