Saturday, December 17, 2011

Relatively Speaking

Imagine that Heather and I had a daughter 20 years ago.  Now imagine that, due to some unknown circumstance, such as living near a nuclear power reactor, or the bite of a radioactive spider, or a mix-up at the hospital resulting in us taking home someone else's baby, our daughter somehow grew up to be close to six feet tall.

For the last couple of months Heather and I have enjoyed having my second cousin over to our house each Sunday.  She is here in San Antonio because she is in her initial training (after basic) at the same base I work at.  We have enjoyed spending time getting to know Andrea, who is sort of like the giant daughter we never had, coming home from college on the weekends.  Except that she isn't in college anymore now that she's in the Air Force, and we never knew her before now.  So imagine that we had a daughter and shipped her off to live with relatives who were more appropriately sized to raise her, but now she comes to visit every weekend.  Our lives have been something like that for the past few weeks.

One of the things we like about Andrea is that she is really laid back.  Andrea also tells it like it is, which makes for some interesting conversation. The other day after going through the gate to get on base and having the gate guard hand me back my id card with a "have a good day Major", I said off-hand to Andrea, "I still can't believe I'm a Major".  As a guy who started out as a Private in the Army, that never seemed to be a rank that I would hold.  Andrea, who finds officers of all ranks to be mean and scary, said "Neither can I!".  At least, I like to think that's why she said it, and not because she is incredulous that the Air Force would promote me to that rank.  That's the kind of thing I tell myself when I lay in bed unable to sleep at night counting chickens hopping over a fence because, in this economy, sheep are just too expensive.  And let me tell you, chickens are much less successful at soothing one to sleep, what with all the clucking and flapping of the wings.  But back to the story.

Unfortunately there's not really a positive spin I can put on Andrea's comment about her thoughts on a movie she had recently seen.  As Heather and I were watching football and talking to her, Andrea suddenly said "I watched Captain America the other day, and he reminded me of you. You know, at the beginning of the movie."

While I would like to think she was somehow referring to the moral strength and selflessness of the character, I knew she was actually drawing the obvious comparison between my diminutive size and the scrawny, pre-scientific magnification of height and muscle, Captain America.  Back when he was just Steve, who gets the crap beat out of him on a regular basis and looks like a skeleton wrapped in skin.  Despite the blows to myself-esteem, Heather and I will really miss Andrea when she's gone.  She's been a little ray of light in our lives, at least on Sundays.  And we didn't even have to do her laundry or pay her school bills.  I can't help but wonder, however, how will we get things off the top shelf once she's gone?