Yesterday a friend named Bill whom I know from the local Y asked how my son Johnny was doing. I gave a brief reply concerning his life at Ft. Wainwright, and said he was due to deploy in late April. Bill then slowly shook his head and said, "When he comes back from Afghanistan he's going to be ten times the man that any of us are."
I thought this a diplomatically perfect response from Bill: it was self-deprecatory, complimentary to Johnny, and he used the word "when" rather than "if."
So when we Skyped Johnny last night I passed the comment along.
Today I happened to see Bill at the Y again, and told him that I had told Johnny what he'd said. Bill nodded and asked how Johnny had responded.
I furrowed my brow. "He actually didn't say much of anything." I thought about it for another moment, then added, "To tell the truth, I think he just sort of assumes that anyway."
Given what he's volunteered to do, I can't really argue with his assumption, at least vis-a-vis me.