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August 14, 2006

"Kibble with Mustard"

Bill's post below this one, in the closing of which the title of this post appears, reminded me of a TINS.

Not because I know what kibble with mustard tastes like, but because... well, that would be getting ahead of myself.

January 1, 1970. Fryar Circle (named after Private Elmer Fryar, Medal of Honor recipient), just outside of Sheridan Kaserne, Augsburg, Germany. Home to a tank battalion and an artillery battalion of the 24th ID (FWD). The artillery battalion, the 2nd Battalion, 35th Field Artillery, has just installed a new commanding officer, fresh from commanding a battalion in Vietnam. Back in a time when the military was rather more insular than it is today (yes, we really were) there were many social traditions in place who's purpose was to civilize the Lieutenants and acclimatize their ladies to the Service. Traditions observed more in the breach than with any regularity today. While that represents an overall positive - the soldiery getting out amongst the normals more now than we did then - there has been a loss of the sense of community, too.

One of those traditions was the Commander's New Year's Reception. A stylish, formal affair, officers and their ladies dressed up (before 5PM, Dress Blues) and on a schedule worked out by the battalion exec, everybody trooped by at a designated time and stayed for about 30 minutes, then left. One of the reasons for that was to control the flow - so that the Commander and his Lady could actually meet 'n greet and talk with everybody rather than just flit about in a mass. The intent, while seemingly sterile, was actually to facilitate conversation, as well as letting the Boss and his wife get a sense of the social graces of the officers and what, if any, polishing needed to be done.

Children (i.e., my sister and I) were chattel servants, to be seen restocking the hors d'oeurves and such, and little heard from.

Well, not this reception. They all showed up and no one left. Vietnam was in full swing, half of them had just come from there, the rest would be going over soon. The place dripped with Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars, a Distinguished Flying Cross, and 4 Bronze Stars with V.

We ran out of food. Oddly, we didn't run out of liquor, but it was a different Army then.

A young Lieutenant discovered to his delight a Sweet Young Thing who would listen to his stories of intended martial glory and seemed swayed by his tipsy wit and charm. Tipsy enough his Career Preservation Sensor was intermittent.

His face, when apprised by the battalion XO that he was chatting up the battalion commander's 15 year old daughter was... priceless.

As I said, we ran out of food. The Colonel's Lady informed Number One and Only Son to go rummage up something from the kitchen. My initial foray was fruitful, there being a hitherto unobserved box of Triscuits hiding out in a corner of the pantry, behind the Cheerios. That lasted all of 20 minutes. And that only because the alcohol was flowing freely.

The Colonel's Lady was not one to be put off my the mere absence of comestibles. Number One and Only Son was directed to find more. The Colonel's Lady could hold her liquor... but, well, let's just say Mom wasn't firing on all cylinders anymore. Heh. No one there but my sister and I was...

I've got French Onion dip. And I've got... Milk Bones.

Heheheheheheheheheh. And a room full of drunken officers and their spouses, them what had 'em, anyway.

Y'know, if you break off the little rounded bits (a groove facilitating that process thoughtfully provided by the manufacturer) and put a dollop of French Onion Dip on 'em... they make a passable-looking hors d'oeuvre. At this point, Captain Stewart, commander of Alpha Battery, pokes his head in the kitchen to see if there's any food. Knowing the good Captain to be a Practical Joker, I wave him over and show him my creation. His face lights up with an evil co-conspiratorial grin. "I'll take it from here - you just keep making 'em!" Taking up the serving platter, he sweeps from the kitchen. First victim - his wife (last I heard, a few years ago - they were still married). She partakes, bites into it - gets a funny look on her face, and, oddly enough, dawning recognition flares.

With a dimpled grin, a muttered "You b@st@rd!" she deftly takes the platter (not as drunk as I thought, methinks) and starts making the rounds - while Captain Stewart comes back for more.

The party went on until I ran out of Milk Bones. It would appear that if we'd cut the hogs from the trough early, Mom and Dad would have gotten off a *lot* cheaper that night.

The Duty Driver and his jeep were kept busy ferrying the married sots to their quarters, while a deuce-and-a-half dropped sotted single Lieutenants back at the BOQ.

While I've not tasted "kibble with mustard" per se, I *am* familiar with dog food and condiments.

And to this day, I tell that story to all the officer's kids I meet, when they are forced by their parents to attend a soireé as chattel servants. Usually much to the dawning horror of their officer parents. Consequently, SWWBO and I don't get invited to those parties much any more.

John | Permalink | Comments (17) | I think it's funny!
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