Friday, September 28, 2012

Dogtags

When I first decided to wear John's dogtags, I never thought it would be such a conversation piece. In June, when I started wearing it, I tried to keep it hidden under my shirt because I didn't want to draw attention to it. Now, 113 days in, I forget I'm wearing it for long stretches of time.

From what I gathered (via the internet, of course) after deciding to wear one of John's tags, wearing it is actually pretty controversial in the military community. This is why I've decided to keep John's on: it's not to make other people comment or to make them pity or commiserate with me. I don't think I'm serving next to John (after all, he's in Afghanistan for a year, with all of the crud that comes with deployment. I'm just dodging bullets and crazies in Baltimore, but I can get a sub at Quiznos and enjoy plunking my butt onto my couch after a crazy day at work.). I don't think I deserve recognition for just waiting for and worrying about John; he's doing all of the hard stuff, after all.

Here's why I wear it: it's a tiny reminder of the guy I love to pieces and who I'm going to marry in less than a year. I wear it because I miss him. I wear it because, even though it sounds really, really idiotic, it's nice to wear something that he's also wearing  7,000 miles away. It feels like he's a little closer. True, maybe it only makes him feel 6,999 miles closer... but closer is closer. I'm not splitting hairs.

Even though I don't notice it anymore, doesn't mean that no one else does. It's quite the conversation starter and comments magnet! So, I've compiled (or really, just tried to remember as best as I can) the comments that I've gotten regarding John's tag.

Most common question:
Is it real?
(Answer: Yeppers. Totes real.)

Second most common question:
Doesn't he need that?  
(Answer: John has two others that he wears.)

Third most common question: 
Can I touch it?
(Answer: Really, honestly, it's just a piece of metal. It is not imbued with magical properties. I promise. Otherwise, I'd be alohomora and wingardium leviosa-ing stuff all over the place.)

Fourth most common question:
Are you in the military/Army?
(Answer: HECK NO. Does it look like I could possibly, possibly, possibly be in the military? I'm a complete wimp.)

Cutest comment:
(During the summer I was a vacation Bible school teacher, and John's dogtag was a source of endless entertainment. I'm assuming this is because it is shiny and big.) The following is the cutest exchange about the dogtag I've had thus far:

Tiny, little girl (pointing to my necklace ) : What's that?
Me: It's a necklace.
Tiny, little girl (grabs it and examines it): It's not a necklace; it's ugly!

(Answer: How can you argue with that? Yeah, it is pretty ugly. It definitely does not go with many outfits. Mostly just the ones with camo.)

Most obnoxious comment:
(Paraphrased because I was so taken aback.) You know dogtags don't work when the IEDs explode. Soldiers are in so many parts, it doesn't work for identification.

(Answer: Here's a fun fact--this isn't funny. In fact, it ruined the night. I truly think the person who said this thought it would make me laugh. It didn't and I don't think I have to explain why. I'm going to chalk this up to the person's misplaced sense of humor, feeling awkward about John's deployment, and consumption of a lot of booze.)

Weirdest comment:
In all fairness, this was asked by one of my students who is goofy and continually just a little bit "off."
Are you gonna cheat on him?

(Answer I Said in My Head: Are you stupid?)

Comment that made me cry my eyes out like the wuss I am: 
A few weeks ago, two Marines were recruiting at my school. I just happened to be in the hallway when they were hopelessly lost and looking for a room number. At the end of giving them directions, one of the Marines asked me if I had someone in my family serving the military.

Me: My fiance's in Afghanistan right now.
Marine: Well, thank you for his service. And thank you for yours.

(Answer: Say something dumb and stunned like, "Um, okay. Sure. No problem." And then walk away as quickly as possible and try to keep it together.)

Funny how a small piece of metal can be a hub of conversation! There's still so much of the deployment to go, so I'm sure there will be (at the very least) a Dogtags: Part 2 post.

-Jo