Straight Talk from the Seasoned Spouse

Q: Dear Straight Talk from the Seasoned Spouse,

The other day my DH and I were grocery shopping together at the commissary and there were so many people there! What gives? My neighbor told me that I was a fool to go shopping on the 15th. Also, what’s a “Case Lot Sale?”
–Brand Newbian

A: Dear Brand-Newbian,

You just got schooled, mil style. Seriously, you’re so new that your hair probably looks good in your ID card pic. You’re so new the gate guards still flirt with you. I mean, what in the hell were you thinking? You took your husband to the commissary? So you could shop together? Get your head in the game! The commissary is like Fight Club — now listen up and listen good, ‘cause you need to the know this: The first rule of the commissary is that you never take your spouse there. Only the old retirees do that, and they walk double-wide down the peanut butter aisle comparing prices and clogging everything up so that no one can pass, not even the woman with the triplets crammed so tight into the little car-cart that one of them is sitting on a jumbo pack of maxi pads. That lady has to just stand there and wait, trying to keep the little demons from playing dodge ball with the eggs while the old couple discusses the merits of Skippy vs. Jif. Don’t be those people. The commissary is a solo activity. Period. No one thinks it’s cute that you two are holding hands and discussing the best sauce for your hot wings. It’s just annoying.

Oh, and btw, your neighbor sounds smart. Why don’t you ask her about a case lot sale?

Q: Dear Straight Talk,

The ball is coming up in a few weeks and I don’t know what to wear. This isn’t my first military formal, so I do know that long dresses are the norm, but I’m worried about my tattoos showing. I have a mockingbird and a nest on my left shoulder, Haruhi over my right breast, my name in Hebrew on my right upper arm and nautical stars behind my ears. I don’t think it’s a big deal for one of them to show, but most of the gowns I’ve tried leave at least two exposed, and if I have an updo the ones behind my ears will show, too. How many tattoos are okay to flaunt at a military formal?
–Inky Dinky Doo

A: Dear Inky Dinky Doo,

Lemme guess, your high school boyfriend was really into anime. Then in your early 20’s, after breaking up with good ol’ Naruto, you started smoking weed, listening to Matisyahu and perfecting your barista game. No drama there, that’s a well-worn path for many of us. But then you got married to a sailor and became a mom and documenting that with some ink seemed really deep and poignant, right? And I’m guessing that somewhere in there— perhaps during your hubby’s first cruise— you and some girlfriends all got tipsy and decided to get the same tats behind your ears? Oh-em-gee. Sound about right? Honestly, the dress you wear to the ball is the least of your problems. See, here’s the thing: No one but you cares about your tats. There’s a much bigger issue going on here and it’s that you can’t seem to commit to a personality. Just go dress shopping, already. If you see something that you love and can afford and it fits you well — buy it and wear it with confidence. That’s the first step toward projecting an image of yourself that you’re comfortable sharing with the world.

Q: Dear Straight Talk,

What is with all these other spouses? Do they all suck? My husband left on a deployment a couple of months ago. It’s the first one since we got married. I try to organize girls nights out and no one seems interested. I keep posting theme ideas for weekly care packages on the FRG Facebook page and no one even ‘likes’ them. Should I take this personally? Did I do something? When my DH and I were dating, I knew some other MILSOs and we got together and shared care package ideas all the time. But now that I’m a spouse— crickets. What’s up with that?

–Love in a Box

A: Dear Love in a Box,

Bless your heart.

The problem ain’t you, Honey. That is, unless your profile pic shows you— in all your 20-something pre-baby glory— wearing a bikini. Then it might be you… Much more likely, the problem is 10 years/six deployments/three kids/ 30 minutes in line (with three kids) at the post office/and a DH who is trying to pass a tape test in order to keep his job (and doesn’t need bags of holiday-themed candy)/and babysitters who charge $15 per hour. In other words, those other spouses don’t hate you— they’re just tired and overwhelmed. The difference between a new spouse and a seasoned spouse is simply time. Deployments aren’t any easier for MILSOs or for spouses without kids. I’ve gone through deployments as a MILSO, as a childless spouse and now as mom of three— and none of those deployments were fun or easy. But back before I had kids, time was more abundant. Those spouses probably think your ideas are super cute but, given a choice between finally getting the minivan’s oil changed or spending two hours buying stuff for a Flag Day care package, 30 minutes assembling it and another 30 minutes mailing it…they’re going to choose to take a nap. Try not to take it personally. If there’s a specific spouse that you really want to hang out with, just show up at her house with wine. If she doesn’t let you in, then you should take it personally.



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