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By: Ed Creamer

Have you ever found yourself wandering around your quarters looking for a recipe for toast or instructions on how to boil hot dogs? It’s not that I have a bad filing system or a bad memory. Like most of us veterans, when I was hungry, chow just somehow APPEARED on the table.

Why, you ask, was a retired Marine looking for these? Well, it seems my long hair mess cook and C.O. recently checked into the local HMO co-payment surgical doctoring center to have a torn rotator cuff repaired. (Now you know why she wasn’t in the Yankees starting line-up.) My part in this was to drive her to and from the blood letting without hitting any bumps or wondering if she’d still be able to out putt me on the golf course.

Once we were back in our quarters from the surgery, I was shown the fine print on our “for better or worse” contract. Seems her ID card allowed her to be SIQ and incapacitated at a time and place of their own choosing. She chose now. Followed later by a request for food.

Look, I know my way around the galley. I can fry an egg with the best of them even if all the yokes get broken. I’ve even burned a thing or two on the grill. But, when it comes to opening ovens to cook something, nobody ever showed me the FMFM manual for that stove. Do you push the button marked BAKE or BROIL if you want fix SOS? Should you set the TEMP on 700 degrees so it will cook faster? If so, what do you do with the melted plastic stirring spoon in the bowl?

One of the questions they failed to cover in boot camp was, “How many spices can you fit into a kitchen cabinet?” What they are all for is too difficult for Jeopardy.

Food preparation is just one of the things I’m now having to learn. I can even spell Vacuum Cleaner? However, I don’t recall my D.I. taking me aside and telling me, “When you wash clothes Pvt., never pour the whole bottle of bleach over the dark clothes.” I guess bleach must be expensive.

The last thing I had to learn was how to help my wife get dressed each day. After I fumbled with lining up the buttons and hooks or slipping on the sleeveless top without bending her arm, it suddenly came to me. Years ago she and I used to do this all the time, only in reverse. Now that I think about it, I think I could get used to this part.