A friend of mine from high school came to visit this weekend. I don’t actually talk to many people from high school. He is, I believe, one of two, maybe four if you start to get really relaxed about how to define “high school friend.”

What I remembered primarily about him was that he sat at the desk in front of mine in French class. His assumed name in that class was Gregoire and he spent a fair amount of time picking on me. “An artless form of flattery,” he has since said to me and I suppose we were all like that, really.

I have no idea how we started talking again, either. I’m sure it was facebook related, everything is facebook related, but I don’t know if he talked first or if I did. If it was intentional or just a passing “happy birthday.” Ages ago while I was still in school and he was still making regular trips to my area, we began going on dates about once a month. I’ve been going on these dates with him regardless of my relationship status or lack thereof. Eventually, we also started going on dates while I was in his area.

Clearly, we’ve got an easy going rapport.

This weekend in all of our non-stressful interactions we kept getting stopped. We’re from the South, strangers talking to you is no big deal, but these people were not just chiming in on fun conversations. These people would interrupt our conversations entirely to say “Are you military?”

Not to me, obviously.

“Yea,” he would say. “Marines.”
“Thanks for what you do, man,” they would reply.
“Am I missing something?” I asked as they walked on. “Are you wearing some military ink? A charm? Do you have a Harry Potter-esque scar that screams ‘I’m a Marine!’ to every passing person?”

He knew no more than I did about why, though we hypothesized that it might have been the haircut and stance. He spent the weekend looking more on his guard than I’ve ever seen anyone look in my life.

But I suppose eight months in Afghanistan can kind sort of change how you define a basic level of relaxation.

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