Without further ado…
- I am somewhat tone deaf. Not to the point that I can’t enjoy music, but I can’t sing (not in any way that others enjoy) and I have trouble telling whether a note is too high, too low, or matches. In junior high I tried out for a musical. I had a lower voice than most boys in 8th grade, so the director was delighted. Until she heard me sing. “Sing ♫LA!♫” “♫la♫” I sang. “No, sing ♫LA!♫” “♫la♫” “♫LA!♫” “♫la♫” I got cast as one of the older adults. Non-singing role.
- I “see” numbers. I add two numbers together and the answer is right because they fit. 8+4=12 because the 4 fits into the 8 and leaves a 2 so 12. The scary part is, I work with someone in my IT department who has a similar way of looking at numbers.
- When I was younger, my beard showed my ancestry. Black, yes, but also red, blond, brown, and other odd colors mixed in. All but the black has gone gray, alas, and the black hair is working on it.
- I got out of the Navy in 1990, so I’ve been out of uniform for 28 years now. And yet, if you catch me at any odd moment when I’m walking from point A to point B and not thinking about anything in particular, you will find me carrying everything in my left hand, leaving my right hand free to salute. Or something. My wife noticed this a long time ago and still razzes me about it.
- I shave my ears. I don’t shave my feet, but only because my feet hair (foot hair?) doesn’t bother me. (If I was two feet shorter I’d be looking for hobbits in my family tree, I would.)
- During my midshipman cruise in 1979, our sub crossed over the Arctic Circle and I became a Blue Nose. This involved various initiation rituals, including pushing an ice cube (more of an ice chip, really) with my nose down the length of the mess deck dressed in my skivvies, and getting lard and peanut butter rubbed in my hair before finding that the hot water had been shut off in the showers. (The cold water was in a tank next to the hull; I mentioned about being north of the Arctic Circle, yes?) I still have my Blue Nose card in my wallet, because Blue Noses don’t have to go through the initiation again; I’ve only ever needed it once, but it was worth it pulling it out to show to the initiation committee, busy lining up victims.
7. Our family name was originally Hörlacher, pronounced (in the US) as HER-lock-er (not THEIR-locker, not HIS-locker, just HER-locker). My great-grandfather changed the spelling because he got tired of answering to WHORE-latch-er.
8. I was going to be a Navy spouse, father, and house-husband at one point. Not because I saw it as a life goal, but because that’s what my first wife wanted, and I wanted to make her happy. I was getting out of the Navy, she was staying in, she would continue in her career, and along the way we’d have kids. It didn’t work out (for a lot of reasons) and based on true-life tales of actual stay-at-home dads, I would have totally sucked at it. Fortunately my second-and-final wife brought along nieces and nephews, and it turns out being an uncle is like 80% of the fun with only 10% of the work.
9. I sold my first professional (as in, I got paid) article to the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings in 1987. I got this wonderful acceptance letter saying they loved my article, and they had a few minor changes but it was good to go. Then they sent me the “minor” changes they were making, which was something in every last paragraph (not counting the several that got axed); I felt like it was a good thing my great-grandfather had changed the spelling of our family name, or they’d have fixed that too. In letters to the editor in later issues, there was one short letter that liked it, and one long letter that thought I was off-base, stupid, and obviously yet another sign of the decline of the Navy’s officer corps. Well, hey, they read it, right?
10. I’m brain damaged. I was in a civilian plane crash in 1982; among my other various injuries I had a traumatic brain injury that left me with aphasia and a loss of motor skill on my right side. The hospital cleared up the external symptoms with drugs, and everyone thought I was okay, but other problems crept up later. I do okay, pretty much, when left to my own pace, but I have trouble processing when the pressure is on; for this and other reasons, the Navy decided it would be best if I not be running nuclear power plants, and I was removed from submarines. I ended up in computers, so there’s that, but there are times when I remember when I used to be smart, and that makes me sad.