HOW TO BE MARRIED TO A MARINE FIGHTER PILOT--A Marine Corps pilot's wife: F-4s, F/A-18s and aviators from my perspective.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Aviator Brief I: Rather Be Dead Than Look Bad at the Field

One of the major tenets of fliers involved looking good at the field--the airfield. That meant pilots and RIOs--Radar Intercept Officers who sat in the backseat--were allowed to do wild and crazy things, even encouraged to do wild and crazy things in the air and on the ground. However, if they didn’t show to advantage while doing whatever, they knew they’d get a ration of shit ranging from being given a bad time, all the way to losing the respect of any flier who heard the story. Most pilots would rather die than look bad. However, no pilot believed he could or would die--the wings conferred immortality. Other guys died. Stupid guys, young guys, and guys who had no luck. No pilot claimed fallibility or stupidity--except after they escaped by the skin of their plane from the teeth of death. Then they had joined the “goddam lucky bastards” club and they were golden. Grins all around.

I hate looking bad anywhere. No one likes to look a fool, but my daughters are much more relaxed about their physical appearance. My hair has to be freshly washed, blown dry. My makeup has to be applied and my clothes worthy at least of a lunch date if I am going to step out to the store--or even step out to get the paper. My youngest daughter will rubberband her sleep hair into a sumo knot on top of her head, drool tracks still apparent across her cheek, and run out to Ralph’s grocery store dressed in pajama bottoms and a ratty sweatshirt. I envy her confidence. Actually, my non-maternal, little green meany side is totally pissed off at her.

And then I wonder, who do I meet at the grocery store or getting my paper? Why do I care how I look to the strangers and my neighbors? My life as a writer is internal and they have no control over whether I publish or perish. Come to think of it--I’ve seen some of them outside in CRAZY outfits with CRAZY hair. I am going to get my paper tomorrow wearing my robe and slippers. Proudly.

Change comes in small, often crazy increments. Looking good at the field is in the mind of the doer.

No comments:

Post a Comment