Combat Addiction

by Lois Overton

aka Foxhole Filly, August 1999

Combat Addiction is an insidious disease, and yes, it is a disease. It starts innocently enough...watching an episode every now and again on Plex. Then you find yourself watching both episodes. Finally, you are taping them and have progressed to the Adventure Channel and ten hits a week.

Your wedding ring is gone in favor of dog tags. Eventually, people start to notice that you are wearing a "Love Me, Love My Sarge" button hidden inside your sweater so no one will see it. They question you, but you are in full denial. You tell them that you are just a social watcher and that you know your limit. You can quit any time you want. At this point, you actually believe that you can handle it.

On the sly, you are up to two new eps and 4 old taped eps a day. You have stopped cooking for the family, preferring to serve dinners of cheese, French wine and Spam. You spend a lot of time with Colonel Sanders, thinking that Sarge just got a big promotion.

The kitchen is now the mess hall, and the garage is the motor pool. The lawn is unmowed, and there are funny holes dug all over your yard. You cannot admit that they are foxholes, so you tell everyone that you are doing a series of fishponds but ran out of money. The sandbags around the outside perimeter of the house are harder to explain. You no longer even try to explain why your doorbell now says, "Incoming!" instead of ding-dong or the grandfather clock in the hall no longer plays Westminster chimes, but the Combat! theme song.

You sign up for a discussion list under the premise that you will learn something important. At first you learn the difference between a carbine and an M1. You eventually find yourself actually reading messages from the Hubba Hubba Brigade. You even pick out a call sign so no one will know it is you. Those around you think a clip and a magazine are found at the beauty shop, but you know better.

You start hiding tapes so your family will not know that you are getting up in the middle of the night to catch an ep or four. There are three of them hidden in the freezer under the broccoli and the liver. You are not letting family members anywhere near your underwear drawer for fear that they will see that you have stockpiled sulfa packets in case anyone in the family is wounded.

Finally, it starts to affect your work and your relationships. When you walk up to a group of co-workers, they scurry away so they will not have to hear what happened to Caje last night. Your boss asks if you can get a job done and you tell her, "I think I can Hanley it fine." Your reports are generously sprinkled with expressions like roger, saddle up, and <clunk> sound of head hitting screen. If major jobs are not done on time, you have even taken to blaming those dirty Krauts!

When your family has had enough, they force you to sit through an intervention, as they tearfully tell you how Combat! has ruined your life and theirs. Your son tells you he wants to be Chuck, not Chip, from now on. Your husband tells you that he is tired of you bringing him stockings and chocolate bars. At this point, you have crossed into the anger stage. You rant and rage that you need no one in your life except the sarge. But your family has no mercy.

The next thing you know, you find yourself at the Combat! Annex of the Betty Ford Center. You are locked in a steaming bath covered in canvas with only your hot, sweaty head sticking out You scream for them to let you out because they are showing "Survival" on Plex and you haven't recorded a first generation copy of it yet.

 You suffer through the shakes and the CT's (Combat tremens -where you are seeing bayo-bearing Krauts and ditzy nuns creeping into your room at night). After months of cold turkey and being treated with back to back Mickey Mouse Club reruns of "Annette," you are released. Taken home, you sit for endless hours staring at the silent TV, the cable unhooked and the dish gone. Your family hugs you and tells you how wonderful it is to have you back and finally done with that horrible Combat! stuff. You spend your days weaving baskets, but your family wants to know why they are so small. "They are called pineapple baskets," you say. Then they ask you what that funny looking metal hooked thing coming out from the top is.

 "Oh, just a handle," you reply with a hint of a smile on your lips.