Sunday, May 10, 2015


It was day 225 of the Iranian hostage crisis, back in 1979. I was Kitchen Manager at The Keg, and living at Moms house. We hadnt had to put dad in the VA hospital yet with his Alzheimers. I guess I was feeling Patriotic, or maybe I was just feeling listless, being 22 and not entirely happy with the work I was doing.
Whatever it was, I thought about joining the Marines.

I told my mom.
“Mom, I’m thinking about joining the Marines.”
“Oh no Stevie. Why would you want to join the Marines?”
“Well, Mom, the thing is, I’m not very tough. I’ve never been in a fight. I wouldn’t know what to do. I’m thinking the Marines might toughen me up some.”
She looked at me real hard, then her face started to soften.
“Oh no Stevie. You don’t need to be tough. I want you just like you are. Just a nice boy who is sweet and doesnt know how to fight.”
“Ok Mom, I won’t join the Marines”

Then 12 years later, during Gulf War One I was Chef at Rivercrest. I was happy there. I had a nice house a wife and two kids, 2 and 3 years old. The phone rang one day. It was an Army Recruiter. He wanted to recruit me. I didn’t just tell him "NO" outright, but asked him what it would pay, and where they would send me, stuff like that. I told him “Hey, I make pretty good money,. I got a house, a wife, and two kids and I just don’t see me joining the Army or the Foreign Legion at 35 years old.”
“Sir, you are eligible for another two years!” he informed me.
“Ok, well, thanks for the information” and I hung up the phone.

But about a week later there was a knock at the door. When I answered it there was an Army Captain, in full dress uniform, standing there. I didn't know whether to salute or shake his hand.
“Mr. Renfro?” he asked.
“I talked to you last week about opportunities in the United States Army, and I thought I’d stop by today and give you this packet of information” and he hands me an official looking folder with an eagle and a pair of crossed rifles embossed on the cover.
Oh man! I couldn’t believe it! I invited him in, introduced him to my kids, showed him where I kept the lawnmower, the grill and charcoal I fired up every Monday night; the badminton court I had set up in the back yard; my boat and $10,000 worth of fishing tackle and camping gear which I used QUITE regularly, and explained to him again that while I was always open to new opportunities, me and the Army probably weren’t the best match at this point in my life.
I saluted as he left.

I told my brother about this encounter. He was a Colonel in the Army at the time. He wasn’t surprised and laughed.
“Yes, the pressure is really on these recruiters these days. If they cant sign enough guys up, they end up in Saudi Arabia, getting ready for the big push to Baghdad.”

Anyway, Happy Mothers Day Mom.
You were right.
I like me better not being tough too.

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