May 29, 2010

Small Talk in Afghanistan

A few months ago, I was sitting around on a Saturday morning before a rugby game when I got an email on my blackberry from Greg Jaffe, who was in Afghanistan. I started reading this email aloud to some of my teammates, pausing every few seconds because I was laughing too hard to continue. I told Greg that he had to publish this email in some format or else I would post it on Abu Muqawama. Greg finally dressed the email up for publication in the Washington Post (meaning he deleted several items: the F Word about 34 times, a not-fit-for-the-Post story about coming home from war and seeing a girl you knew from high school working in a strip club, and -- most sadly -- the self-mocking references to his own condition as a print journalist in a war zone), and you can read it here. This dialogue will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever spent any time stuck in some godforsaken place with an infantry platoon filled with 19-year old American men. Hilarious.

[I like Greg a lot, not only because he had the sense to marry a nice girl from Chattanooga, but also because he is one of those smart, humble journalists, completely lacking any ego, who really take the time to get to know soldiers, officers and U.S. Army culture. One of the good guys.]