Thursday, May 25, 2006

Goodfellow AFB

Kirk's training was at Goodfellow Air Force Base, in San Angelo, Texas. In many ways it was a typical Texas town. Walmart stores were as thick on the ground as armadillo road kill. There was only one bookstore - and the largest section in it had three carousels filled with frilly calico bible covers. The hot spot in town was the Boot Scoot 'N Bowl. To me though the town means three things - ants, wire hangers, and the Concho river.

The river has a particular smell to it. It's not necessarily a bad smell, just pervasive. The problem is that smell is also a taste, and it's inescapable. Most people we knew bought bottled water in massive bulk. The only thing we found that could kill the taste (sort of) was Koolaid. Normally we wouldn't let our kids near the stuff (mmmm- nutritious! Colored water with loads of sugar in!) but we figured for four months it was better to keep them hydrated and deal with the sugar dependence later. Making the stuff became a ritual. Kirk would fill a clear, sealable bottle with water, put in the sugar, and the three kids would gather around and start to vibrate with anticipation. He would slowly rip open the paper packet and dump in the contents with a flourish ('Ooooooooh' - magical effect of food dye making an inverted mushroom cloud), then cap the bottle tightly. 'Ready' 'Ready!!' 'Are you sure you're ready?' anticipation reached dangerous proportions. 'I'm... going... to.... ' 'Shake! Shake! Shake my sillies out...' The kitchen would fill with a preschool mosh pit.

We tried to picnic next to the river a couple of times but it seems every inch of ground is infested with tiny, vicious ants. It sounds minor, but I can't explain the evil nature of these insects. They don't just wander around cleaning detritus up and filling their important niche in the ecosystem - they hang about smoking little ant cigarettes and talking big to their friends, and when innocent people stop for a few seconds they leap on them, wrestle them to the ground and start chewing. Or maybe that's just what it feels like, but they're nasty, horrible little creatures. We threw away the wrappers from some KFC, then came back to the same trash can just a minute or two later to find it literally black with ants. Even typing this I'm shuddering and feeling those phantom, creepy little legs.

The wire hangers are a bit strange. We didn't have a washer and dryer in our small house (and for four months it wasn't going to be worth getting them) so every week we took our wash to the laundromat. For an extra dollar a load the owner would swap your stuff over which was, I thought, a darn good deal since other than boot scooting and bowling, hanging out in a laundromat is my least favorite activity. The problem was, she put every piece of clothing (socks excepted) on a wire hanger. Uniforms, slacks, button down shirts - all of those made sense. But we brought back arm-loads of neatly hung jeans, shorts and t-shirts as well. After two weeks the closets were filled with wire hangers. I was raised by a recycler, so I couldn't fathom throwing away something that technically was perfectly usable, but three weeks left us with dozens and dozens of hangers and more to come. I started taking them back to her with the dirty wash, but by then it was too late. The hangers had discovered the exceptional breeding environment in our closets, and began to quietly multiply. By the time we moved we were finding wire hangers in every room of the house, under furniture and inside cupboards. We packed them in boxes and quietly left them outside the laundromat. They would be happiest there.


Anonymous said...

Yikes! I gotta say, I agree with Joan Crawford on wire hangers. Hate the things. Though they can be useful once every year or so when I lock the keys in the car.

Once, while on a business trip, I had to take laundry to a local laundromat.

My underwear came back pressed. Thank fully, someone knew enough not to use starch.

For Kirk said...

I never asked about starched underwear around town - but I can tell you that blue jeans are starched and pressed until they stand on their own with a crease down the middle that you could cut a steak on.