It’s deer hunting season at West Point. You can get a permit to hunt at various spots around post, and the deer sure as shootin’ know it. Around the housing areas, where it’s safe, you see lots and lots of does and more than a few bucks. This morning, I glimpsed a spike peering cautiously over the stone retaining wall behind the Catholic Chapel. In summer, the deer are as tame as you could imagine, especially in the tree-dense streets near Lusk Reservoir. When you pass by, they look up as if to shrug, “Another pink ape. Whateverrrrr.” But now they walk warily. They sprint for cover and blend into the branches. Deer season means holiday season, and since it’s that time of year, old friends are checking in. When plying me about my life at West Point, their first question is: Do people KNOW? Know that I used to be a stripper, that is. Answer: Folks around here might know, but not because I told them. I’ve got nothing to hide, technically, but I don’t make it a talking point, either. I suppose an Army officer marrying a very former stripper might shock some people. But to me, the only shocking thing is that it has potential to shock at all. Nowadays, you can’t watch a movie, TV show, or video without some reference to stripping, and every major publication features some cultural doyen rubbernecking at the collision of Porno and Mainstream. It does sound funny, though, “Ex-stripper turned Army wife.” Kind of calls to mind a Private Benjamin-era Goldie Hawn tripping past the cadet formation in platform heels or boozily peeling down to a camouflage thong in the officer’s club. But I’m not some flighty fish out of water. All appropriate courtesies are rendered: I dress sensibly, chat amiably, and can be trusted to make it through a receiving line without offering the superintendent a lap dance. I could, in fact, have submarined the matter entirely if I hadn’t published a book on the subject. But I can’t take the book back, and, honestly, I wouldn’t. It’s my personal Pledge of Allegiance to the grrrlhood, although for the sake of social ease, I choose to promote it in the media, not in conversation. And there is the small matter of the Playboy pinup awhile back. That I don’t sweat at all. Most of the fan mail I received was from—guess who?—military men. The girlie/green relationship dates back to the first stag book and is as American as apple pie. My friend, burlesque legend Sherry Britton, was not only a popular World War II pinup, her likeness appeared as nose art on a bomber. And more than one dancing girl has stepped off the stage and into a soldier’s loving arms. A turn or two at the shake shack and a couple pinups aren’t that controversial, really. Hard-core is much harder to live down. I ache for the repentant porn queens and the girls who go too far in spring break videos. Heck, I even feel bad for Paris Hilton. When pondering the complexity of how who I was squares with who I am now, men get a laugh, but women get agitated. It taps directly into a basic female social anxiety: that a woman’s past will cost her a future. Indeed, in some cases, that does happen. (Hi there, Miss Lewinsky!) I do worry that someone might snub me when they find out, and though he assures me it won’t, I worry that it will reflect poorly on my mate. In that face of those fears, I try to be Teflon Annie. Sometimes it works. Still, I don’t fret too terribly much because I know that military people are sophisticated—more so than civilians assume. They understand what it’s like to be judged unfairly. Sex work and soldiering are both flash-point vocations—rife with public misconceptions and stereotypes. When it comes to enduring negative projection, soldiers know the drill. Literally. I maintain perspective. For all the hell I might catch, nobody ever called me a baby killer. Today, as I often do, I got e-mail from a woman asking if she should come forward about her night job—she’s thinking of writing a book, maybe a play. I told her to consider the after-effects, what life would be like with paranoia as a constant companion. But what about those of us for whom it’s too late to cover up? Well, we make like the deer, dear. We step carefully. We learn to blend.