Sunday, March 13, 2011

WAR? What is it good for?

My pregnancy with Emma was "high risk" for a bunch of reasons. The good news was that I got to take a year off from law school. The bad news was that I got to spend a lot of my pregnancy in bed. Sounds like a dream, now. But, at the time I was so angry. I was 28 and had A LOT to do. Those weeks in bed taught me a little bit about patience and an awful lot about war.

It was 1989, and Blockbuster had been around for just a few years ( I understand it may be in Chapter 11 bankruptcy now). We had an outlet less than a mile from our house; it had replaced the old Bells Supermarket on Elmwood at Auburn. Blockbuster was a Godsend. Bill would stop every night to pick me up 3 or 4 videos. He rigged up a tape player and placed it atop our bedroom TV set. Since I was missing law school, he figured I could educate myself with some of the old classics that, because of my cohort level, I had missed. Some of the more memorable movies that he chose for me were: Patton, The African Queen, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Manchurian Candidate and The Seven Samurai (especially the Seven Samurai).  I couldn't wait to talk about them with Bill when he got home from work. I remember giving Bill only one stipulation: no musicals. I think Bill must have interpreted that to mean: only manly war movies. We had only been married three years, and I still hadn't figured out Bill's utter preoccupation with all things "war".  His movie choices for me should have been a huge hint. What can I say? I was a bit pre-occupied with a wee baby trying to desperately hold on.

Later, when I was going through some of his memorabilia and framing some of his old pictures, I found a poster from his university days. He was in a jazz trio with Richard Shulman and Bobby Previte and the name of the band: Thermopylae - the famous battle scene between the Spartans (and other Greek city states) and the Persian empire. Yes, 25 years with Bill and I've learned a few things about battles, too.  Who names a jazz trio after a Greek battle ground? Someone who is enamored with war. Someone like Bill.

Today when he turns on the TV, his first choice is always something to do with war. It doesn't matter which war:  Civil, WWI, WWII,  or even old Roman battles.  As long as they talk about airplanes, ships, armaments, troop movements, or they interview old guys who were "on the ground", then the channel flipping will stop. I can't tell you how many times he's seen "Siege at Leningrad".  It's become a joke around here.

The funny thing is that when his dad used to wax on about the war, we would indulge him, but secretly want him to shut up. Even Bill. Especially Bill. When it was that close to home, he didn't want to know.

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