Lea had been stationed in Afghanistan for a while, but they were letting her and several others she had become close with have a brief leave, right around Thanksgiving. She learned some things about loneliness, and self-amusement while she was there– much like her buddies. Even when you’re back in the States, you don’t immediately snap out of the way of thinking you’ve gotten so accustomed to over the months, or years, so it makes for some interesting little anecdotes sometimes.
She and Jonah were staying together for Thanksgiving and decided they were going to call their pal Mike. They were all relatively close, regionally, to one another during this time. As Lea had kind of expected (and hoped), she reached Mike’s voice mail. She and Jonah held the phone between them to their ears, but she did most of the talking.
“Mike!” she said, “You gotta get your ass down here. It’s Thanksgiving–“
“We’re at the mall!” Jonah added, almost yelling. They were not at the mall. They could barely contain their laughter. It was just like when they were kids getting high. They were just silly trying to keep it straight to sound serious.
“It’s freaking awesome, Mike. Get down here. They’re having a ball. A real ball. The yearly Thanksgiving ball, here. Get down here, man.” Lea said. I shouldn’t have to tell you that this was a lie.
And for some reason as she told me this, I could just picture her all dressed up like Cinderella for some kind of fancy ball at the mall on Thanksgiving. Gold poofy dress, elaborate hairdo with lots of extensions, maybe even a masquerade mask. It was weird, ’cause it was so not her. I would probably never see her dressed like that, ever. And I thought to myself (secretly, of course), how cool would it be if there really were an annual Thanksgiving ball… at the mall? I would go.
After they hung up the phone, they laughed ridiculously for like, 2 minutes. Then after they composed themselves, Jonah shouted, “Call him again!” Again they reached voice mail– Mike was probably having an early Thanksgiving dinner with his family that afternoon. They were so gleeful considering his thoughts when hearing these messages… “Dude, you gotta come down here,” Jonah said. “This ball is insane. We are having the time of our lives. It’s the Thanksgiving ball!”
“Oh, we’re at the mall,” Lea added quickly before Jonah hung up. Priceless. They laughed some more.
The next day Mike called Lea back. “What the hell was up with those messages?” he asked her. “Was there really a ball at the mall?”
This is the type of behavior they had learned to engage in while stationed overseas, but of course it was something natural enough to them to continue here, as it did tap into something of their teenage selves. Like I said, loneliness and amusement… it makes for some strong bonds, and some interesting behavior. She told me this story completely amused, and I didn’t point out to her that it had no punchline, because it didn’t matter. It was just amusing in itself. Knowing these people and being able to perfectly picture how it happened… that was funny, and I loved hearing about these little things that kept them happy, sane, and bonded.
“Where did you even get that idea from?” I asked her. She pulled out a picture from her wallet and showed me. It had President Obama and a bunch of men sitting around laughing, smiling.
“This was taken the day that I got to meet the President and sit in on one of his meetings. Remember, when he was visiting Canada and I was there, last year…?”
“Are you serious?” I asked her.
“What, did you think they were joking about foreign policy?”