Friday, October 26, 2007

The World Works Against Me

I don't get men, and I don't get women.

  1. The crew with whom I'm flying currently has been here all of two weeks.
  2. The majority of this crew is married.
  3. I have been here for the majority of this year.
  4. I am single.
Here in our little corner of Hell in the Horn of Africa, we have a bar-tent that is appropriately named "The Bitter End." It is accessible only by those of us working in my field, not to the General Population (so to speak) of the broader camp "outside the wire", unless they are personally invited.

By nature of the customers (us) and its relatively exclusivity, it is very popular among the women of every service in GenPop. Consequently, it is with little surprise that one notes the Bitter End -- when opened (though irregularly) -- is chock-full of what some have derisively nicknamed as "Frog Hogs." Having been to the Bitter End is, apparently, a mark of distinction among women.

Seven minutes before the expiration of my otherwise non-descript birthday recently, I was cajoled into visiting the Bitter End for a beer or six. I had been reluctant to do so, as I needed to get up early the next morning and go for a run before our mission. Nonetheless, I succumbed to the sweet siren call of beer.

I spent the evening bullshitting and playing darts and having as best a time as I could, given the circumstances.

The guys on my crew and the other operators-in-residence, however, spent the evening joking, massaging, insulting, flirting... all in patent effort to get in some girl's pants. Any girl's pants.

Please refer to Stipulation 2. As well would it serve my argument for you to know that these same married men in drunken efforts to find a rackmate for the night also continue wearing their wedding rings... they don't even bother to hide it.


Here are my complaints, in easily-digestible bullet form:

  • I don't excuse (or tolerate, or stomach) infidelity in any form, but at only two weeks separation?
  • And what about the women who knowingly ignore their suitors' marital status?
Inescapable lessons:
  • Women have reason to distrust men.
  • Women are as complicit in this condition as are the men.
  • Men will hit on even the fugliest and wholly personality-devoid women when deployed.
  • These same women enjoy fame while deployed they can only imagine at home.
Now then. Two important Justin-factors:
  • Of the reasons for electing to divorce my wife over three years ago, prime among them was her constant fear of my infidelity (discussed here.)
  • When my subsequent love, S., broke my heart, her infidelity while I was deployed was paramount among reasons (discussed here.)
I can't win.

Does this shit happen in the Real World, too?... I wouldn't know, as I've been wearing the uniform since I was a wee-impressionable young man. I'd like to think it does, and that it's not the military culture that engenders this loathsome behavior, but... really? Xerox and The Washington Post and Maggie Moo's? Doesn't seem to fit...


Slightly Disorganized said...

eh. I can't think of a reason that would ever make infidelity ok either. It rund contrary to the entire nature of a relatiosnhip in my opinion.

I don't think it's military culture per se, but certainly it is a pressure cooker of stress from your job that perhaps allows these men to feel that their behavior is excusable? that they deserve to getheir rocks off abroad because they're doing what they do. I don't know. Cops, Pilots, firefighters, politicans, military. A lot of professions come with a disclaimer that the men in it are known to be unfaithful. Personally, I think that part of that is bullshit. Most of it in fact. Infidelity is always a choice, and whether you're away or you're at home, your job or your significant other's job in no way excuses your bahvior.

but that's just my 5 cents. I'm with you J, bring back the fidelity and stop the bullshit excuses.

Ashley said...

I think the military and the metro north trains have something in common. I used to commute to nyc last year and i was the youngest girl in the company of all older married men. I got hit on every. day. It was ridiculous. They wouldn't bother hiding the rings or withholding information on their kids but would make it known that they were interested in more than chatting. Gross.

Now, I'm not entirely innocent, I have been the mistress to one of those guys on metro north that I met nand became good friends with and for that choice I made to overlook the fact that he was married, I feel horribly about. Worst decision I have ever made. It didn't help that I was straight out of a long term relationship gone bad and lonely, but that is no excuse. Anyhow.

Infidelity is the worst of sorts, no matter what your profession, nothing ever excuses that behavior. I've been on both ends and neither one is fun. I will never cheat on someone I'm involved with, no matter the distance/stress of job/how much i hate commuting. Its amazing how some people just dont see the wrong in it. Justify it somehow in their minds and go with it. I still don't understand my rationalizing of being with the married guy.

I could go on and on but I'll stop monopolizing your comment section. As long as there's still people out there, like you, who believe in fidelity, then there is still hope! :-)

SFC MAC said...

I know you're navy, but in the Army there's a line that goes like this: "What goes TDY, stays TDY". I was in for 30+ years (Active and Reserve) and some, not all Soldiers, considered deployment an opportunity to practice the "I'm not married, my spouse is" concept. It disgusted me. Unfortunately, the Chain of Command usually looked the other way unless the relationship was indiscreet to the point of absurdity. Believe me, I fended off more than one married guy. My mantra was and is "married men are off limits". Of course, as a female, the behind the back "dyke" insults sometimes occured, but at least they got the message.

Mood Indigo said...

Ugh, I'm with you. This makes me want to grab an honest man and hold onto him - regardless if he's the one for me or not. That said - I get what goes on in these people's heads, because unfortunately, once you get the drinks going - wrong/right takes on a different definition. Troubled marriages, depression, insecurity - they all become the basis for decision making, not the standard right/wrong that I think most of us try to live our day to day life by. Unfortunately, said definitions only last until the drinks wear off - and for many - that is enough to never let it happen again. More unfortunately are the people that get used to the sting of feeling how wrong it was, and let the next time happen. I would lose my mind being surrounded by that and trying to have a long distance relationship - but I get a sense of strength from you that many people don't have, and somehow I know that at the end of this time - you'll be even stronger in your own convictions AND a better judge of who shares them and will give you the commitment and fidelity that we all deserve.

Anonymous said...

dude you are just a one woman man

other guys and gals like more than one partner

c'est la vie

~Justin said...

slightly disorganized: I agree with your final conclusion... in that, primarily, it is bullshit that guys in the military and similar fields use the "pressure" excuse. In my opinion, it's nothing different from the more everyday excuse: "I was drunk, man, so I didn't know what I was doing (driving, screwing, what have you)." A decision is a decision made. How I loathe these excuses...

ashley: I nonetheless deeply respect you for being accountable for your mistake... everyone among us makes mistakes; God knows I certainly have. But learning from them is the important part... and understanding the pain they cause the innocent -- at least in terms of fidelity. I still say, though, that it takes two to tango... that, and my biggest issue is the permissive culture that seems to engender the behavior. To pretend that cheating doesn't or won't exist is naive, but it doesn't have to be part of the culture.

sfc mac: It's not just an Army thing, trust me. I've heard the saying as many times as you have, I'm sure. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a squid that coined it first.

mood indigo: You're sweet, and inspiring. Thanks for your kinds words.

carrie m said...

truly, a sad state of affairs, no pun intended. i hear about affairs or whatever far more often than i ever thought i would. and it really is sad.

startingtoday said...

That "men will be men" attitude is bullshit. Having a stressful job is not an excuse for infidelity.

The difference between men and boys is that boys want to run around screwing everything in sight. And they do.
Men? Well, the thought might cross their mind, but if they're in committed relationship, they won't act on it.

To anonymous - it has nothing to do with Justin being a one woman man. It has to do with the fact that those men are married. Unless they have an open marriage, which I highly doubt they do, then their actions are wrong.

Men wonder why women are insecure. We hear or experience stories like this, or of guys chatting with women online, or weekends in Vegas, or on the train to work, or whatever.

If guys want to play the field, I'm all for it. If you're single and haven't promised to be faithful to someone else.

But if you're in a relationship and have promised to be faithful? A lie of omission is still a lie.

~Justin said...

starting today: I agree with everything you've said, but I'd add: don't forget the women being hit upon that are also purposefully ignoring the guys' marital status. Takes two to tango, as I've said...

Where you say "[and] men wonder why women are insecure", I could nod in agreement but also add, "and women wonder why men think this is okay -- because it (at least sometimes) works.

startingtoday said...

Completely agree with you. Why a woman would choose to sleep with a married man is beyond me. I'd venture to guess (maybe incorrectly) that it is because their self confidence is low, and the guy plays that whole "woe is me" sob story about how their wife doesn't fulfill their needs. The woman with the low self confidence thinks she can give him something better. But of course in the end, he'll never leave his wife.

Or, the woman just wants to have sex.

Who knows.

But stuff like this makes my stomach turn.

It sucks as a woman to hear - "Calm down, you're too sensitive" (as in insecure), only to find out that you were right all along about your suspicions. This has happened to me. More than once.

And it sucks trying to build new relationships. You want to assume that you can trust the new person - and you don't want to be "that girl"... The one that's insecure and clingy and needs reassurance all the time.

But it's really hard to find that balance between "My past tells me that 80% of men are assholes...." and the present where maybe you have met someone decent, and don't want to screw it up with the assumption that "all men are the same."

That was kind of rambling. Sorry!

SweetEscape said...

It's not just the military, although I do think that given those deployed in the military and their circumstances it's probably somewhat magnified. Not that that makes it any better or worse. Just is what it is I guess.

You should know though that it's comforting to know that guys like you with your values and morals exist. I mean not that I've encountered them but you're proof right? ;)

Anonymous said...

men are the bees and women are the flowers

bees visit many flowers

honey is sweet!

it is a force of nature

inowpronounceyou said...

Totally agree; they should have taken off thier rings.

Juuuust kidding.

When you're a kid, you do what you do and you hopefully grow up. I would hope that when you're taking wedding vows, you've already done the aforementioned "growing up" but often is that the case?

The real lesson here, in my humble estimation, is that marriage just ain't what it used to be. You can get out for any old reason you choose and you can get in for no reason at all.

startingtoday said...

I'd like to think that many men (and women) grow up a bit when getting married. Not BECAUSE they are getting married, but because they choose to make the decision to be faithful to someone else.

As far as marriages ending, it's true, you CAN get out for any old reason at all nowadays. I'd venture to guess that a huge portion of those divorces are due to the fact that no on knows how to communicate anymore. (Me included.)

I'm not sure that marriage isn't what it used to be - it still is something to the people who are successful. Just because it isn't what it was in general doesn't mean that the rules go out the window if someone does decide to get married. If a man (or woman) promises to be faithful, then they need to do what they say.

It all comes down to honesty and communication. Two things that are hard to come by.

~Justin said...

INPY and starting today: *grin* You know, I read a very compelling article recently (in a months-old Esquire, methinks...) that suggested marriage as a concept has undergone fundamental change in just over a generation.

In that, say in the '50s, it was the mark of beginning of adulthood. Early-20s-ish somethings would get married and then do the growing-up together. Wheareas today, late-20s-ish through mid-30s-ish people are getting married only once they've done the growing-up, establishing careers and buying homes and generally being secure with themselves.

Compelling, as I said.

Bag Blog said...

Wow, I'm impressed! I just dropped by via, and you have great style, interesting thoughts, and a nice little blog.

With 30 faithful years of marriage under my belt, I don't think age or being "grown up" has anything to do with fidelity. How you were raised and having a sense of right and wrong plays an important role in whether you are faithful or not. In this day and age most people flock to immorality because it is acceptable and expected. Why would they let a ring and a few vows stop them? Sounds to me like you have not met the right women, but they are out there waiting on the right man. They just seem to be few and far between.

By the way, I recently toured the Lexington in Corpus Christi. I am very impressed with all things Navy. Gee, that sounds like I am just easily impressed with anything.

Sarah said...

Everyone left these really deep, thoughtful comments... but I just wanted to tell you that I laughed out loud when I saw that you used the word "fugliest." Love it. :)

~Justin said...

sweet, sweet, sweetescape:

You should know though that it's comforting to know that guys like you with your values and morals exist. I mean not that I've encountered them but you're proof right? ;)

A quotation:
If we keep treating our most important values as meaningless relics, that's exactly what they'll become.
Michael Josephson

I refuse to relegate my values and morals to history or a prevailing culture that disavows them; consequently, yes, dear, I am proof.