War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

confession (letter to a CSM)

dear CSM,

I have a TERRIBLE confession to make that has burdened my heart for almost 2 years.

2 years ago, this May, we were at WWx. we had a water shortage and weren’t allowed to shower. we were on water rations as well. as a pansy poet, I found that after about Day 8 I began feeling manky, and made a comment to one of the guys I’d gotten to know (a Cpl For Life – CFL with the NRS) about how I was okay with birdbaths but I’d love to have clean hair esp. as the Gen. was dropping in for a visit soon and I always like to impress men who drop out of helicopters.

“I can get you hot water any time you want”, said my NBF (new best friend), a sad sack CFL if there ever was one. and whom I’d met while I was hanging around the cookshack mooching for extra servings of cheesecake.

“Really? how?” I asked as I followed him to the pot scrubbing tent where he was to spend his entire war.

“Don’t ask”, he said, “What time do you want it?”

“Well they’re not going to take me outside “the wire” to “Spin Boldak” until tomorrow. And this afternoon all I’m doing is lying around on my army cot daydreaming of ways I can drive the Sgt. Major crazy with overt laziness”

“Okay,” NRS guy told me, “1400 hours there’ll be a washbasin full of hot, hot water just behind the cooks’ storage shed.

“But I can’t wash my hair in public or I’ll get busted and have to do 25 if Sgt. Major catches me and I don’t think I can even manage 5 pushups because poets have notoriously weak upper body strength”, I told him.

We both looked at the cooks’ blue rocket next to their shed, then at each other and nodded. A huge sign on it said, “For cooks’ use only or there will be penalties – CSM Delta Coy.”.

“Right. 1400 hrs. thanks Cpl.”

at 1400, after my nap, I casually made my way to the cooks’ blue rocket. waved at the cooks taking their smoke break behind the mess tent. then when they butted out their cigs and carefully placed their butts in the CSM’s designated cigarette butt cans, and made their way back into the mess tent, I tiptoed over to their rocket and when no one was looking stepped inside. man was that rocket ever clean! no graffitti. air freshener. and toilet paper! lots of toilet paper.

best of all, there on the sparkling lid of the can, was a huge steaming metal bowl full of clean hot water.I locked the door. quickly unpacked my shampoo, conditioner, and the green army issue towel a clerk had given me at Suffield.

oh how wonderful that hot water felt on my scalp. the marshmallowy lather on my fingertips. I groaned aloud as I opened the can lid and rinsed my hair. a slight reddish tinge in the water because I have red highlights that wash out slowly, splashed on the rocket floor and onto the side walls.

I washed my hair fast, rinsed it. towelled it. mopped up as best I could then opened the rocket door and ran out as fast as I could when no one was looking.

that night at the CUB I had a certain “je ne sais quoi” about me. I sat behind a young Lt. and listened as everyone gave their reports. alternately serious. alternately laughing. there’s nothing quite like a CUB on a May evening before war.

at the end of the CUB it was your turn to speak. you stood up. gave details on this and that, joked and made everyone laugh. then a storm came over your face.

“Okay. this is serious. the cooks reported that somebody has been using their rocket. NO ONE but the cooks are to use their rocket. This is Alpha Pri for Health and Safety reasons. NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE, other than the cooks are to use their rocket. and they reported to me today that it was a shitshow in there today. If I catch whoever it is, they’ll be doing GD until the day they’re released. even if it’s 25 years from now”.

the CUB all fidgeted. I fidgeted. The OC stood up, gave his take on the CUB, outlined plans, warnings, then dismissed the CUB.

I skulked back to the supply tent where I was bivving with one of the most miserable CFLs in the world (the transport Sgt), a chain smoking SOB, and one of the most gorgeous Cpls. in the world (an Angel), lay down and went to sleep knowing I’d avoid the CSM for the rest of my stay.

I skillfully avoided the CSM until the day he and the CO drove me out of WWx (the famous “what’s the one piece of war art everyone knows Sgt. Maj” day). Next time I saw him was in a little village deep in the war zone. and even there in a small compound I managed to keep out of his way.

So now I want to take the time to say, sorry CSM. It was I who messed up the cooks’ rocket. I hope no one ever got jacked up on my behalf.

but boy CSM, did my hair ever look nice for the General who dropped out of the sky next day.

PL


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled confession (letter to a CSM). It was posted here on January 18, 2011.

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