Except for the small, insignificant fact that the man who sat next to me during dinner happens to be one of President Obama's official helicopter pilots.
Things like that happen when you hang around with Marines for long enough. And my husband has been hanging around with one particular Marine for more than 25 years now, which should certainly qualify as long enough, although this friend has technically only been a Marine for a shade under 20 of those years.
My husband's friend is a helicopter pilot as well, and we are at Camp Lejeune this weekend celebrating a milestone in his career with him and his wife and family. Tomorrow is the formal celebration, which I am informed will involve three generals with a total of five stars between them. My primary goal for the day is not to embarrass myself in front of this crew by tripping while wearing a dress and heels. A secondary goal is to enjoy the sight of all the good looking, clean-cut men in suits and military uniforms! (Cue fanning myself and swooning.)
This base is a different world. For one thing, children can run about essentially unsupervised, since access to the base is so restricted. (Not sure I would be able to let go of my own children so easily, but I see it happening here.) In that sense, it is almost a flashback to an old-time kind of childhood. For another, they speak a different language around here. At the main gate of Lejeune, there is a visitor's center where civilians must be signed onto post by their military host. The bathroom in the visitor's center has a sign on it that says "Public Head." The one on the front door of the visitor's center says "Remove Your Cover." (Meaning take off your hat.)
And good grief, when in recent memory have I ever felt so OLD? Looking around here, so many people are in their late teens or early twenties...my own almost-40 is positively geriatric by comparison!
But I love this area, not least for the friendly people and good food. We drove half an hour out of our way this afternoon for some ethereal chopped pork barbecue sandwiches and sweet tea and I don't regret that one bit. When in Rome, I'll be darned if I eat at McDonald's.
Off to bed. Tomorrow morning will come early...