Let’s address an especially awkward social situation: the inside joke. I’ve been wrapped up in many a great conversation only to have person A say some perfectly random word to person B which causes them both to erupt with laughter. As person C in this scenario, I respond by:
- Giggling along in hopes that they won’t notice that I’m not part of their memory
- Acting like I didn’t hear what they were talking about
- Checking my phone
- Pretending to swat at an imaginary bug (bonus points if there is an assist from an actual insect)
None of these responses is particularly effective, but sometimes the best thing you can do is tread water to stay afloat and tie yourself back into the conversation on the next topic.
I doubt I’ve heard the last of the infamous inside joke. Bouncing around the country, or even the world – I can only imagine the confusion of an inside joke in a foreign language – makes for missing out on a lot of inside joke-worthy moments. So, when the opportunity presents itself that we, military spouses, can all share in an inside joke that we all “get,” we should embrace it and laugh together. And when non-military spouses stare and wonder what in the world was so funny, let’s just sputter out between our phrases of laughter, “You…just…had…to…be…there.”
- PCS, TDY, MOS, CO, XO, TAD, PT, PFT, PRT, OPSEC, etc. Maybe you laugh along watching people try to decode these acronyms, or maybe you laugh along nervously in hopes that no one asks you what these really mean.
- The loaded question, “Where are you from?” We can’t help but laugh, and it’s a great way to kill some time while we wait for you to pull up a chair.
- Lingering inventory stickers are not only something to laugh at, but they can also become a source of family fun in a pinch. Who can find the oldest sticker, or which move was this from? Sounds fun, right?
- Flight suits require the sniff test before wearing. I can’t think of another situation where that is not only acceptable, but the norm.
- Shopping sprees at the uniform shop are big deals. My husband gently broke the news to me that he needs to spend some serious cash on new socks. I know dear; I do your laundry. Why don’t you do me a favor and buy a whole new batch that all match!
- Our service members wear the same thing nearly every day, but produce the most dirty laundry. Insert irritated laughter here.
- Order envy must be real. Why am I getting stir crazy and borderline jealous of people moving the year before us? In this case, laughing at myself is required.
- The mystery box that moves with us each tour, but is never unpacked is not only a funny family quirk, but it may just qualify as an heirloom at this point.
- Phone numbers and addresses change so frequently that I often take a moment’s pause before reciting them. To a civilian, I probably seem a little spacy, but it takes a while to sift through all those numbers.
- Dress up for military kids involves a sharp uniform, a cover and a backpack bigger than they are.
- Customs forms are probably the biggest inside joke of all time. I fill mine out according to the snowflake policy – no two ever look the same. But, it’s all fun and games until you get stuck in line behind someone at the post office who’s never heard of them.
- First names, I’m sure my husband’s colleagues have them, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what they are.
- The Internet went berserk the day the Marine Corps brought back rolled sleeves. That wouldn’t be cause for celebration anywhere else.
- The commissary is closed on Mondays, but we’ve all shown up with grocery list in hand at least once. It’s never funny at the time, but we always laugh about it later.
- Dinner is cold, again because our service members are unexpectedly late, again. We only laugh because it wasn’t unexpected to us. We knew it; we always know.
- A familiar face around town is usually an exciting chance meeting, until we realize the person we “recognize” is from a different city, in a different state.
- Kids can say some hilarious things. My son has started responding to my instructions with: “Aye, aye, captain.” How can you do anything but laugh when a 3-year-old says that?
Nervous laughter, belly laughs, lols, LOLs or a contagious case of the giggles — it doesn’t matter how we laugh or why as long as we remember never to take military life (or ourselves) too seriously.