My son is in a gang, y’all.
Not just the army, although… yeah, that too. No, he’s in a gang within a gang and I’m not sure as his mother I can approve.
I started noticing it last year, when he was off on some training whatsit. I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying attention—he was perfectly safe back then, I didn’t need to know exactly what he was doing!
ME: So how’s it going?
OFFSPRING: Pretty well. I mean, better for me because I roll with Special Forces.
ME: I’m sorry… what?
OFFSPRING: Well the SOCOM guys are all on this side, and we kind of have our own rules. We don’t have to wear our uniforms, and we get to cut in the chow line—
ME: Oh. My. God.
ME: YOU’RE IN A GANG.
OFFSPRING: … You knew this.
ME: YOU’RE IN A GANG!
OFFSPRING: … Remember when you took me to the recruiting office, with all the gang members, and told them I could join their gang?
ME: No, you’re in a gang within the gang!
ME: Do you wear special colors?
OFFSPRING: … our berets—
ME: And do you do whatever the fuck you want and expect everyone to treat you with respect?
OFFSPRING: … I’m in a gang.
OFFSPRING: Okay. But at least I’m in the really good gang!
I’ve talked to Husband about this, and Husband rolls his eyes and tells me not to worry. That it could be worse.
HIM: He could’ve joined the Navy.
ME: That was never on the table. (huffs off)
I’ve tried to discourage this as much as possible while still supporting his adult-y independence.
But now he’s at Bagram, and I worry.
OFFSPRING: This place honestly seems like a shittier Colorado. Similar climates, elevation, and mountains. The difference is they burn tires and shit here, and the mountains shoot rockets at us sometimes.
ME: And the “food.”
OFFSPRING: Yo, the curry here is amazing.
ME: I read the TripAdvisor reviews.
OFFSPRING: Oh, and one of the guys I’m replacing has malaria.
ME: (quietly hums Letter From Camp)
OFFSPRING: And you know how you insist that I’m in a gang?
ME: Because you ARE.
OFFSPRING: We have our own section of the base we don’t allow other people on.
ME: Jesus, protect my baby from the TURF WAR.
OFFSPRING: On our side, we ignore all the rules. No hat, no salute; no PT belt. We can wear open toed shoes.
ME: But YOU don’t, because Safety First.
OFFSPRING: And whenever someone gets on our ass about “professionalism” or whatever we jump through the gate back to our side and laugh.
ME: (puts phone down, walks away)
Husband, to his credit, has been no goddamned help whatsoever alleviating my fears.
He’s actually taking Offspring’s side, if you can believe it.
ME: … So they’re literally just walking around, pissing everyone off and when they get called on it they hop the wall into their turf and mock! All, “Ooh, yeah, what’cha gonna do, huh?”
ME: How are you not worried about our son’s gang activity?
HIM: Because he’s in the right gang!
HIM: Look, if you’re in the Latin Kings and you’re in LA, you’re fine. But if you’re a Latin King in Boston, you’re fucked.
HIM: He’s with Special Forces, on a US Army base. He’s in the right place.
ME: Gang territory!
HIM: The right gang!