There were lots of birthdays observed recently. My older brother, for example, just celebrated his birthday over the weekend. Happy Birthday, Big Brother!
We threw a party for the boss, too, on the occasion of his natal day.
(Yet again we have the situation wherein an Officer is significantly younger than me, and higher-ranking....)
One of the traditions in this unit is for Officers to get together to smoke cigars as the day draws to a close.
This is not a tradition I've chosen to participate in, however. I used to smoke. Even cigarettes. I have no desire to do that to my lungs again, even in the context of "unit cohesion."
Given the fact that most of us are from California, where it's been illegal to smoke anything indoors for many years now, there seems to be quite a bit of glee that folks can smoke anywhere they want to in this part of the world.
So before dinner had even started, the stogies came out and the puffing started.
Fortunately for me, SPC C and I wound up arriving a bit late (because another Officer couldn't leave before completing a time-sensitive task, and didn't have a vehicle to use, so we offered to drive him), by which point all of the seats at the very long table had been occupied. This meant that I got to sit on the other side of the room, at a small table, at which we had no one smoking -- at least *during* the meal.
SPC C got back recently from having spent Christmas with his new bride, as I wrote about earlier. He seems to have weathered the trip well.
Now, the properties of diffusion being what they are, not having people at my small table smoking during the meal didn't mean I wouldn't have to breathe in other people's smoke (I did), but at least I didn't have someone next to me or across from me exhaling it into my mouth as I took a bite of food or a sip of Schweppe's Bitter Lemon.
(As an aside, I'd not seen Schweppe's Bitter Lemon in probably 20 years or more. I really like it, and hadn't realized how much I missed it, until I saw someone drinking it here in Kosovo the first time I had a meal off-Post. Mmmmmmm!)
Because the boss likes his cigars so much, we pitched in and got him some expensive smokes (I guess). We also got him a customized Zippo lighter, which seems to be an Army tradition from long ago. He seemed especially pleased with the lighter, as I noticed he would take it out of its box and admire it, showing it off to the dinner guests, again and again.
If you've seen the movie "Gran Torino" -- a must-see, in my book -- you might remember that the protagonist has a Zippo lighter with the yellow and black First Cavalry crest on it. The character obviously cherished that lighter.
I suspect we have the makings of something similar here.
Despite the sea of brown Campaign Hats, there were three of us there with Stetsons. I made sure we recognized that fact, though our photo-op occasioned a few choice comments from others who were quite clearly jealous.
Blessings and peace to one and all,
Fr. Tim, SJ