Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Comforts of Home-- Missy Martin-- Ahwatukee Foothill News

HOME FRONT: The comforts of home

Commentary by Missy Martin
Ordinarily I hate fast food. I once rented the movie Supersize Me to help indoctrinate my kids against it. A few days after watching it, we drove past a McDonald’s where an ambulance was parked out front. The kids all gasped, certain that someone had bitten into a French fry and suffered a heart attack. The other day, while I was out of town, my husband, who is not nearly as zealous as me, suggested the family go to Burger King for dinner. “Nooooo!” the kids all shrieked, fearing for their lives. They lobbied for an organic peanut butter and jelly sandwich at home.

But ever since my brother Mike deployed, I find my hard line softening.

In his first e-mail home, Mike described driving into Camp Virginia, Kuwait, his duty station while at war. Sand was blowing so fiercely he could hardly see in front of him. Yet, to his delight, he managed to spot a McDonald’s in the middle of the small camp.

He also mentioned a conversation he had with a soldier from the unit Mike’s company is replacing. The soldier related that their trucks had been hit with roadside bombs about 150 times in the past year. As Mike will now be among the company of soldiers providing convoy security on Iraq’s deadly roads, suddenly the thought of him sitting in a McDonald’s, eating a Big Mac and fries, actually seems like a safe and reassuring place to be.

This war is making a hypocrite out of me.

Recently I took my kids to the Arizona Science Center to see Body Worlds 3, an exhibit of real human bodies that have been preserved after dying from diseases. We muddled our way through all the skin, muscle and bones to the display of black lungs where I warned my kids to stay away from tobacco, or else! Yet, in assembling the first care package to send to Mike, I drove to the grocery store, with kids in tow, for the express purpose of buying Copenhagen chew.

And chips. And candy-flavored with high-fructose corn syrup, colored with artificial dyes – more things I routinely preach are hazardous to your health. We bought four Goliath-sized bags of Mike’s favorites.

At the post office, I waited in a long line and filled out the customs form, declared the value of the contents in the box (Copenhagen = $6.74, Jolly Ranchers = $2.99, my 7-year-old son Merrick’s description of his future invention to detect roadside bombs = priceless). I felt immeasurably pleased because Mike would be receiving these “comforts from home” in only a week to 10 days.

But then the kind postal clerk with the soft, sweet voice ruined my mood when she said, “I hate to ask, but….”

I expected the perfunctory “anything-liquid-toxic-flammable-perishable” questionnaire. Or possibly, “any obscene pictures, bulk Christian or anti-Islam material, or pork?” (None of this is allowed).

Instead she said, “In case of non-delivery would you like this package returned, or to go to the chaplain?”

“Non-delivery?” I replied, puzzled. “Why wouldn’t it…?” But then I remembered where it was going, and got it.

Missy Martin is an 11-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident, mother of three and editor of Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront. Her brother, U.S. Army Specialist Michael Dunn, attended Arizona State University and graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in accounting and now provides security on convoys in and out of Iraq. He can be contacted at Spec. Mike Dunn 7th Chem – APO AE09327.