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March 9, 2006

Flawed drama about post-combat tragedies

I'd love to know from which angle this play comes? The horror of battle? The problems with separations? The loyalty of spouses? I have a sneaky suspicion it comes from the bullshit angle that war turns men into brutal beasts who come home and take it out on their women who sat home like angels crying their eyes out while they were gone.

Has anyone ever heard of "Jody?" The mythic figure fabled in military lore and talked about every time soldiers march or run in formation?

"Ain't no use in calling home...Jody's got your girl and gone."

Well, a fight between a returning soldier and his wife that leads to his beating her to death has to have another element involved that would lead him to snap than just her moving the furniture. A scene in a play like that makes the assumption that soldiers are ignorant neanderthals that club their women unless they follow orders to the letter.

Having served at Fort Bragg, I can report that not a weekend goes by that you don't see wives of deployed soldiers out in the clubs, on dates, involved with other men, and doing things that are definitely not designed to help their marriages. That's Jody. What's worse is that other soldiers at Bragg not deployed disrespect their deployed brethren by pursuing their wives while they're away. That's Jody too.

"You know what happens when you're gone...your wife's got Jody mowing the lawn."

Then you have people who carry a weapon and live in danger for over a year and need to depressurize, only to come back and have things thrown on them. I know a troop that survived six IED attacks, two offensives, the initial invasion, and a year of street patrols and firefights, only to be told by his wife that staying home with their three year-old was harder than what he was doing. Then he went home to find out that she was involved with a soldier three ranks and 10 years younger than he, and that the neighbor's wife (whose husband was deployed, and was the person who was supposed to help his wife), was pregnant by the buddy of the soldier his wife was dating. When he confronted the soldier, the troop actually acted proud of what he was doing. To add insult to injury, during the divorce, the wife got custody of the three year-old. Did he take out his baseball bat? No, but if he did, I'd understand.

"Ain't no use in feeling blue...the kids call Jody 'Daddy' too."

Have some soldiers just come home and snapped? Sure. Have these soldier's upbringings and battle experiences contributed in some way? Probably. Could they have snapped because of something stupid like the bills, the house, the car, or thinking they've been disrespected? Are there tragedies out there? Yes. It happens. That's Jody too. But did the men have sole responsibility and the women are all just victims? Hell no. Oh, and remember, in an equal-opportunity army, Jody's a girl too.

"Ain't no use in feeling blue...Jody's got your girlfriend/boyfriend too..."

Writing a play about this kind of thing is sticking your nose where it doesn't belong, and talking about something you don't know jack-shit about, so stop it.

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