By Pablo James “The basic building block of selfless service is...
Miss New Jersey
When you are deployed, you can get pretty bored. Luckily, the Army has solved this problem by providing the American fighting man with USO shows.
I had been at my hardsite in Kosovo for a week and had just traded out with my PSG for a day so I could “refit” at Camp Montieth and was informed by Adam and Darren that Miss New Jersey was performing that night. She was doing some sort of song and dance routine with a bunch of other extremely hot girls who had a title like “The Patriotic Girls” or “The Red, White, and Blue Girls” – you get the idea. We decided we were going to try hard to meet these girls, because 1) They were hot and 2) What else were we going to do?
Note: Dave just e-mailed me and said they were the “The Star Spangled Girls”. I’m all about accuracy – thanks Dave.
Our unofficial hangout was a built-up tent (floors, door, lock) that we had somehow managed to gain access to. Over the course of several months we had managed to get a fridge and a fan in there and kept it well stocked with water and soda, courtesy of Brown and Root. We even built a “bar” out of sandbags for ambience.
Why does this matter? Because that morning, only seconds after we decided to meet these girls, Adam announced that the tent was now the “VIP Tent”. Brilliant. We went to work. We had just received a ton of assorted posters from “Any Soldier”, which we really appreciated. We took all of them – Johnny Cash, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Nirvana, and pretty much any other band you can imagine – and then grabbed a Sharpie and started signing them as if the artists had signed them. Never mind that Kurt Cobain was dead and couldn’t possibly have signed his poster, and certainly wouldn’t have toured a USO show anyway.
Anyway, Darren was a bit of a liaison of sorts for any entertainment that came through our sector (not sure how he got that gig), but he actually had enough quasi-authority to make it seem as if the standard protocol after a USO performance was a stopover at the VIP tent. We were fairly happy with ourselves at this point.
The girls got up on stage and performed some pretty impressive routines. They put the Laker Girls (who also visited the Vo) to shame. Every once in a while Miss New Jersey would bolt out a song in a show tune kind of “yeah, it’s better than I can sing, but Simon would kick her ass on American Idol” sort of way. Pretty standard stuff. As they finished up, the six of us – Dave, Mac, Adam, Darren, Huzi, and I met the ladies at the front and “escorted” them to the VIP tent.
Mac immediately went around pointing out the many posters on the outskirts of our tent. The girls were impressed and were pleased when we asked them to sign their own poster which we immediately displayed prominently. In a pretty short period of time, everyone was comfortable and we determined that the girls were really cool and actually pretty funny, especially one girl named Callie. There was one problem, however. Every single time that we started to have a good time and everyone was laughing, Miss New Jersey would say something that would bring the group down a bit. I want to be clear – she was very cool, out of this world hot, and a genuinely good person, BUT: 1) She was the “leader” of this group of girls and, as women often do, these girls had clearly grown tired of their peer’s “status”, and 2) Miss New Jersey wanted to find the window into our souls (probably so she could talk about our “pain” at the upcoming Miss America pageant). We’d be right in the middle of some Mac-led onslaught of sexual innuendo and everyone would be laughing and then BAM, there’d be some reference to children injured in land mines, followed by the question, “How does this make you feel?”
We tried everything to stop the pain. Mac did the worm. I sang the Mr. Miagi Love Song from the Karate Kid. We performed a dance I like to call the “Farmer” to Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” – we left some gold out there, but to no avail. She was like a juggernaut of anti-fun.
Again, I want to reiterate, I suffer no dislike for this woman. In fact, if you ever meet her, you’ll like her and you’ll want to date her, but there is a time and a place for everything, and quite frankly, it was time for me to Ranger Up.
The Bump and The Set
(At this point we are whispering like school girls)
Dave: She’s the hottest kick in the nuts I’ve ever met.
Nick: I know man. She’s killing me, and the girls can’t have fun around her.
Dave: I could have fun around her.
(wink, wink, nudge, nudge – yeah, I f*cking laughed when he said it)
Nick: Ok man, stay with me on this and don’t laugh.
Dave: What are you gonna do?
(I stand by and wait intently for the next MNJ mood killer. I do not wait long.)
MNJ: What’s the worst thing about being here?
Nick: Oh, man…that’s tough. You know, it’s hard to see all of the ethnic strife – I mean, these people are basically the same, but they hate each other enough to kill each other. That’s hard to see. And the kids – wondering what their future will be like…that’s hard too. But (looking off into the distance for effect) probably the hardest thing is the…the…(her hand is now on my shoulder – this is what she was looking for)…the f*cking Vampires.
Nick: The Vampires.
(Dave is looking away so as not to lose it. Huzi bites his lip.)
Nick: Well, you know how large the ethnic rift is here?
Nick: And you know how in the Muslim Shiite Religion, the blood is the most valuable part of the body? (Note: This is not true.)
MNJ: Uh, huh.
Nick: Well, in Kosovo, as you know, they have an even more strict form of the religion. When a person dies, they drain all the blood out of the body and place it in a large urn which is placed in church. A person is said not to have been released to heaven until the blood has completely evaporated. (Note: This is absolutely not true.)
MNJ: Of course. (The hook is set – I almost feel bad.)
Nick: Well, in recent months, a group of young Serbs have formed into a gang called the Stani ili Pucami, which means The Vampires in English (actually – it means “Stop or I’ll Shoot”). These “Vampires” raid Albanian Churches in the middle of the night and drink the blood out of the urns, thereby sentencing the dead to wander the Earth forever.
MNJ: I did hear about this! The Special Forces guys on the helicopter were telling me about it! It’s so horrible! How could anyone do that to another human being? I don’t…
(At this point Miss New Jersey launches into an impressive and passionate tirade about how the world is an awful place and she hopes we can make it difference. It’s actually quite adorable and I almost feel bad about what’s about to happen).
MNJ: (In closing) Do you know what I mean?
Nick: Yeah…all that stuff I just told you – I made it up.
Nick: Yeah, completely fabricated. I have no idea what you’re talking about. There are no vampire gangs here – I just made up that whole story.
Nick: You heard about them from the SF guys?
(MNJ just turns bright red. She is angry. Where she once found me somewhat amusing, I now know she wants to drive a stake through my heart. She excuses herself after making some brief small talk to show she is not affected)
As she walks out the door, everyone at the table starts dying laughing. The other girls that were near the bar rush over out of “concern” for their friend. You know – the whole “What’s wrong?” thing that girls do when they aren’t really worried about the other person, but actually can’t stand to not know the gossip deal. Callie relays exactly what just happened to everyone. She is almost crying laughing and the fun level immediately amplifies. This story is relayed approximately 1000 times over the course of a great freakin’ night, each time to laughter, and a slight twinge in the back of my head reminding me that I’m going straight to hell.
Oh well – every “war” has casualties.
Sorry Miss New Jersey.
Copyright of Nick