Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Storytelling II: The Sequel

A couple of days after my latest storytelling venture with the LTC K family, I was back with them for lunch, but this time with two Army friends of mine in tow. They had both been ROTC Cadets at the midwestern university where I was teaching almost a decade ago, and this was the first time the three of us had been together in uniform since I joined the Army two years ago.

CPT J had "Battle Assembly" over the weekend, and had arranged for me to come to do Chaplain-things on Sunday morning, essentially on the same post where LTC K and his family live. I finagled an invitation for the two of them, knowing that they'd appreciated the culinary stylings of Mrs. LTC K. Hope does not disappoint (Rom 5:5).

LTC K was out running an errand when we arrived, and Mrs. LTC K was busy upstairs, so their daughters answered the door and showed us in. Daughter Three (D3) was immediately smitten with CPT J, and soon brought out her "My Little Pony" collection to share with him. Not long thereafter, all three of us Soldiers were playing with her toys.

CPT J began accosting CPT S verbally, in the voice of "Princess Sparklepony" (or whatever the name of the thing was). "CPT S, did you know that you missed a spot when you were shaving this morning?" CPT S responded with, "CPT J, did you know you were ugly?"

The girls laughed uproariously.

Daughter One (D1) said for the first time that day, "I've finally found my people!"

CPT J ripped the unit patch off of CPT S's uniform and gave it to D3: "Here, CPT S wants you to have this." I responded by taking off CPT J's RANGER tab and giving it to D3. "You're now the only girl in the world with a RANGER tab, so that makes you *really* special."

"No it doesn't," said CPT S's pony, "it just makes you more prone to needing me to put you back together again."

D3 put the RANGER tab in her hair, and tried to get it to stick to her shirt. She put it into the rather outrageous hair of one of the ponies (though why it's called a "pony" when it has a unicorn's horn in the middle of its head escapes me; I guess I'm just an old curmudgeon....).

Energized by the RANGER tab, "Princess Sparklepony" began accomplishing great feats of derring-do at the hands of CPT J. Her voice became rather dark and menacing, and she turned into a weapon, it seems. This evidently encouraged the other ponies to become weapons as well, brandished by CPTs J and S and the girls.

As LTC K and Mrs. LTC K finished up the preparations for lunch, we kept on splitting our guts laughing in the land of Princess Sparklepony.

I certainly have not laughed that hard or long since going Down Range.

At one point CPT J had two ponies in the front pockets of his blouse. They were engaged in some sort of contest, which I never did quite understand, because I was laughing so much. Needless to say, while it was all in good fun, and remained within the bounds of good taste, given the assembly, the dialogue between the ponies held by CPT J and CPT S simply had to be heard to be believed.

D3 brought her RANGER-tabbed pony to the dining table, having made sure she'd be sitting next to CPT J. After she'd finished eating, she climbed into his lap, while still clutching her pony with the RANGER tab. She lounged there for quite a while while the adults (i.e., LTC K and Mrs. LTC K) and my buddies and I talked about topics not very interesting to young people.

She and D2 later went off with CPT S to read stories in the other room while CPT J and I remained at the table with the grown-ups.

As the three of us were leaving the house later on, the girls accompanied us outside to say good-bye. D3 repeated her mantra of the day: "Dad, I have finally found *my* people!" D2 and D3 begged us not to go. Hugs all around, and a final sortie for Princess Sparklepony RANGER.

D3 gave CPT S his unit patch back, but kept the RANGER tab.

LTC K told me the next day that when he went to tuck D3 in for the night, she had her RANGER pony with her. She told her Dad that she was afraid of something or other, so he replied, "Darlin', you know that I'm always here to protect you, so you don't have to be afraid. Besides, you know that CPT J told you that Princess Sparklepony with her RANGER tab was going to patrol the perimeter for you while you're asleep."

D3 looked at him, rolled her eyes, and in a rather exasperated-seven-year-old fashion, said, "Dad. It's just a *toy*!"

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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