I'm going to stop telling people...
...I went to Afghanistan.
Or at least, I'm going to stop telling drunk and/or stupid people I went to Afghanistan.
Last night at the local bar someone told a woman I recently returned from the 'stan and she started asking questions which at first were normal, but slowly started to focus on the morale of the troops. She didn't seem to accept the fact that I perceived morale to be pretty good among the people I interacted with. She went on to posit that it must be difficult for morale over there when they hear about people over here disagreeing with the war.
When I asked her to clarify what she meant, because I actually don't know many people who strongly oppose the action in Afghanistan, I began to realize that she was thinking about Iraq and not Afghanistan.
I explained that the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan were strikingly different and that I was in the latter and not the former but that didn't deter her from her pontificating. She continued to press her point of view, even mentioning that the U.S. talked about bringing troops home from Iraq in 2006, despite my constant corrections that I was actually in a different country with a different name, to wit Afghanistan.
At that point I pretended that the beer taps needed a stern talking to and walked away.
Earlier this week a different woman, also possibly drunk, said that it was terrible that the female soldiers overseas didn't get tampons.
When I kindly asked, 'what the fuck are you talking about?' she got snippy and said, 'well, you know there are women soldiers right?'
Oh no, little Ms. Condescension, I thought those were effeminate men with shaved legs and tits running around the bases I was at. I didn't bring it up because of the whole 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.
She continued by saying "they don't provide tampons."
Usually any conversation that involves the word 'tampon' this many times already makes me run away, but I had to at least mention that at the PX's I was at (a PX is a Post Exchange, a general store on base) I saw femine hygeine products readily available.
She said, "well that's on base, what about where the soldiers are?"
"Where the soldiers actually live."
"Soldiers live on the base..."
And so forth.
I realize infusing first-hand knowledge into a political discussion is not really the thing to do in this day and age, and I should stick to whatever talking points my cause has handed out. I also realize that our culture is partly to blame, we live in a world where you can watch 24-hour news channels for 24 hours and still be uninformed, but if you're only talking to hear your own opinion and not to interact with your conversation-mate, leave me out of it.
So anyway, if anyone asks, I went to the Caribbean for two weeks. Here's a pic of me at a Sandals in Gardez: