Monday, May 14, 2012

The Password

Once upon a time I was assigned to the headquarters of the US Army's 1st Infantry Division. We would go on what was called Field Training Exercises. These exercises were to familiarize the headquarters staff with the procedures that were to be followed during wartime. To simulate wartime conditions, the exercises always took place in some dense woods. One of the procedures practiced actually was more of a ritual than a procedure that has been practiced by every army since time immemorial: The daily assignment of a “challenge and a reply” - code words which were used to separate a friend from a foe.

When it got dark, the headquarters area was under blackout conditions. That is, no lights except red-filtered flashlights were allowed outside of buildings, tents and vans. These, one had to enter and exit through a double curtain that blocked any light from escaping to the outside. Needless to say, on a moonless, starless night it was pretty darn dark in among the trees. Access to the headquarters was guarded, of course, and anyone approaching by night when visual identification was impossible was challenged with the challenge word. To be able to pass, one had to know the proper reply.

As I had to enter the division headquarters one evening after dark for a high level briefing, I approached the guard point and was challenged with the appropriate words: “Halt, who goes there?” I stated my rank and name and the sentry said, appropriately: “Advance and be recognized!” I gingerly stepped one step closer to the challenger who then said: “Now,”  at which time I took another step forward and the sentry again said: “Now,” no longer in the required whispered tone. I thought, what the devil does he want me to do, I'm already in his face? At that point it came to me that some idiot had made the challenge for the day the word “Now,” and I was expected to reply to it and not step forward any closer.

Mother's Day 2012

A man and a woman were overheard while speaking. The man said: “Honey, you should treat me to a Mother's Day buffet.” To which she replied: “Why should I treat you to a Mother's Day buffet?” “Because I made you a mother!” he said. She thought for a moment and then her face took on a pained expression as she said with a raised voice: “Get outa here! I didn't want you to make me a mother, I thought we were just going to cuddle!” Happy Mother's Day all you accidental mothers!