My son recently came home from Afghanistan for a two week leave. My biggest worry, of course, has always been that he would be injured or worse. But I was also mildly worried that he might get some form of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, so I was on the lookout for any signs that he might not be his usual rude, obstreperous, humorous old self.
He was kind enough to allay those fears even before he arrived home. We spoke to him by phone when he first arrived in the States, and he said that he had brought us a present: a camel spider and scorpion encased in glass. I commented, "As long as the spider's dead and it's not going to break out and escape in our house." Johnny immediately replied, "Well, actually it's not dead, it's cryogenically frozen, and the glass it's encased in is pretty fragile. Oh, and just so you know, it's a pregnant female."
He added, "I was also going to get one of those plastic severed fingers you can get in a novelty store, you know, just to make Mom happy, but I didn't."
When he arrived at LaGuardia, we of course greeted him joyfully, whereupon he informed us, "I just came home because it's an obligation, not because I wanted to. What I really wanted to do was send two of my buddies to the house to tell you I had died." He chuckled at the thought, "Yeah....that would have been good." (It wouldn't have been good for him; had he done that, he probably would have died, at my hands.)
At dinner that night, he kindly put any remaining doubts we had about him having PTSD to rest. He looked at our dog and mused, "I wish Tyke would stop telling me to shoot couples in parked cars." I laughed at this Son of Sam reference; my daughter laughed as well. Johnny then asked Rebecca, "Do you know what I was referring to?" Rebecca couldn't answer, so Johnny mocked her for being the type to laugh at jokes she didn't get.
When Johnny's mother pointed out that -- like most people -- her ears were not exactly at the same level, he reassured her, "You know, I always thought you looked like a Picasso painting."
After we had discussed politics for a bit, Johnny said to his mother, "Unless you have a certain testosterone level, I'm really not all that interested in what you have to say." When he saw me trying to repress a grin, he added, "Dad, I'm not sure you qualify either."
When my parents came for a visit, my wife suggested they try the sea salt -- rather than the regular salt -- with their lamb. Johnny then said, "Mom, you've got to stop calling it that, it's so pretentious." A few minutes later he pointedly asked, "Could you please pass the mine salt."
After a few days Johnny went to spend the weekend with an old friend now going to college in New Orleans. Upon coming back, he wasn't particularly forthcoming with any details about his trip, but he did volunteer that he had made a mistake by coming back and should have stayed in New Orleans longer. To underscore the point that he was bored at home, he said, "You know, after being back here for several days, I realize, I really miss the Taliban."
At one point, after I had made a few lame jokes, Johnny offered, "You're so funny Dad. Geez, my diaphragm can't take any more of the spasms from laughing at your jokes."
When I mentioned to him that I was going to put up a post about the Lord's Resistance Army, Johnny asked, "Didn't Steve Sailer just write a post about that?" I said yes, but mine was going to make a different point. Johnny then retorted, "If you're not going to call your blog 'Just Not Read,' you really should call it, 'Just Not Said -- Except By Steve Sailer, Who's Already Said It'."
Well, at least Johnny doesn't have PTSD.
Five more months....a long time to hold your breath.