What does an Army officer’s wife at West Point do, exactly? The day’s itinerary, improvised, with notation.
0700: Morning kiss. Vigorously palpate the scalp of he who got barbered last night. A military man’s haircut has four stages: Scalp-tastic, Velcro, Velvet, and Puppy Butt. Relish the fleeting Scalp-tastic phase. The Army guy’s head = Pat the Bunny for grown-ups. Listen as MAJ Hubby clomps downstairs in big boots and BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform—i.e., fatigues). During the weeklong run-up to the Army-Navy football game, which is this weekend, everyone, corps included, wears BDUs to ratchet up “spirit.” Be grateful this sartorial pep rally doesn’t extend to wives. BDUs are even more talkative than corduroy.
Make mental note to show spirit in other, quieter way, perhaps by carrying a small felt pendant that says “rock on” or, more simply, “yay.”
1000: Drain teacup (fat-free hazelnut creamer, huge Yankees mug). Hit the computer and Google “West Point wife.” Yield two links, one a guide to swingers and wife-swappers in West Point.
Feel suddenly better about West Point. Not because of any personal swinger tendencies. (Too hippie. Too Rick Moody novel.) Little ping of relief born of apparent proof that the educated, ambitious West Point staff and faculty are deeply human! With, like, vices and urges and stuff!
Follow link and discover that swingers are based in West Point, Utah, not West Point, N.Y.
Feel suddenly better about Utah.
1030: Chat with the wife of husband’s department head about upcoming Army-Navy weekend in Philadelphia. Discuss dress options for Friday night’s gala. (First gala! V. v. exciting, as Tina Brown might say. Or Gawker imitating Tina Brown.)
Suggest to department head’s wife that we throw an old-school officer’s wife tea with hats and tea sandwiches and white gloves. Laugh at camp potential for said idea. A lot.
1130: Husband calls. “You want to meet for lunch at Delta Foxtrot?” Code for Dong Fong, the cheap Chinese eatery just outside Thayer Gate, favored by faculty and cadets.
Drive. Wonder if restaurant name isn’t some great jokester conspiracy to make august military men and future masters of the universe say the word “Dong.” If so, excellent.
1215: Re-enter West Point, flash military ID to nice M-16-toting soldiers at the gate. Glide home to agonize over writing and stare at computer screen for hours—i.e., “work.” Repeat for several hours after COB (Close of Business).
1400: Open Santa-shaped Whitman’s sampler. Pick through Santa’s chocolaty guts and ponder possibility that one might just be a little sick of men due to constant proximity to high-T masters of the universe (and those in the making). Realize instead that one is simply exhausted by the academy’s atmosphere of relentless competence.
As they say in the Army, “Sounds like a personal problem.” It is.
1415: Hit shops in search of LBD (Little Black Dress) for gala. Pick a size 4, duck into dressing room, and commence Vulcan death battle with said garment. Dress wins. Dress-buying mission goes Tango Uniform (Tits-Up). Decide to wear old gray flannel strapless that has seen every semiformal occasion in the last three years.
1500: Think, Christ, it gets dark early these days. Wonder if Navy is blocking the sun as a psyche-out.
1600: Wheel into commissary for groceries. Spot, at entrance, portrait of Garrison Commander Col. Ann Horner. Admire her smile (not unlike a seventh-grader running home with a straight-A report card) and red lipstick. Realize that as garrison commander, this comely lass is, essentially, the mayor of West Point. Make little devil horns inside coat pocket. Chant silently, “Rock on, Ann.”
1645: Respond to guy in checkout line who asks: “You’re smiling. What do you know that we don’t?” Listen as he divulges that by age 19, he was sent to Vietnam. “They took my childhood from me. Just took it away.” Nod sympathetically. Listen some more as he berates current administration.
Cart bags to truck. Wave to childhoodless guy. Feel somewhat grateful that the Army isn’t one big gung-ho green mass that pulses to Rumsfeld’s heartbeat.
1650: Drive carefully down street dotted with jogging cadets. Note that female cadets are bundled into thick, fleecy sweat suits while male cadets trot along in hats, gloves, long-sleeve shirts and shorts. Ponder meaning of this.
1700: COB. Retreat. Watch as all soldiers in immediate vicinity of the flag at Trophy Point stop walking, or stop driving and get out of their cars, to salute the flag as it’s lowered. Think, “Rendering honors. That’s pretty f-ing awesome.” Rock on, West Point. Rock on.